American Nations

A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

Colin Woodard - Author

Hardcover | $30.00 | add to cart | view cart
ISBN 9780670022960 | 384 pages | 29 Sep 2011 | Viking Adult | 5.98 x 9.01in | 18 - AND UP
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An illuminating history of North America's eleven rival cultural regions that explodes the red state-blue state myth.

North America was settled by people with distinct religious, political, and ethnographic characteristics, creating regional cultures that have been at odds with one another ever since. Subsequent immigrants didn't confront or assimilate into an "American" or "Canadian" culture, but rather into one of the eleven distinct regional ones that spread over the continent each staking out mutually exclusive territory.

In American Nations, Colin Woodard leads us on a journey through the history of our fractured continent, and the rivalries and alliances between its component nations, which conform to neither state nor international boundaries. He illustrates and explains why "American" values vary sharply from one region to another. Woodard reveals how intranational differences have played a pivotal role at every point in the continent's history, from the American Revolution and the Civil War to the tumultuous sixties and the "blue county/red county" maps of recent presidential elections. American Nations is a revolutionary and revelatory take on America's myriad identities and how the conflicts between them have shaped our past and are molding our future.


Origins: 1590 to 1769

Chapter 1: Founding El Norte
Chapter 2: Founding New France
Chapter 3: Founding Tidewater
Chapter 4: Founding Yankeedom
Chapter 5: Founding New Netherland
Chapter 6: The Colonies’ First Revolt
Chapter 7: Founding the Deep South
Chapter 8: Founding the Midlands
Chapter 9: Founding Greater Appalachia

Unlikely Allies: 1770 to 1815

Chapter 10: A Common Struggle
Chapter 11: Six Wars of Liberation
Chapter 12: Independence or Revolution?
Chapter 13: Nations in the North
Chapter 14: First Secessionists

Wars for the West: 1816 to 1877

Chapter 15: Yankeedom Spreads West
Chapter 16: The Midlands Spread West
Chapter 17: Appalachia Spreads West
Chapter 18: The Deep South Spreads West
Chapter 19: Conquering El Norte
Chapter 20: Founding the Left Coast
Chapter 21: War for the West

Culture Wars: 1878 to 2010

Chapter 22: Founding the Far West
Chapter 23: Immigration and Identity
Chapter 24: Gods and Missions
Chapter 25: Culture Clash
Chapter 26: War, Empire, and the Military
Chapter 27: The Struggle for Power I: The Blue Nations
Chapter 28: The Struggle for Power II: The Red and the Purple

Acknowledgments and Suggested Reading

The New Republic Editors’ Pick
The Wall Street Journal
The Globalist Top Books of 2011The Wall Street Journal
2012 Maine Literary Award for Non-fiction

“Mr. Woodard’s approach is breezier than Mr. Fischer’s and more historical than Mr. Garreau’s, but [Woodard] has earned a place on the shelf between them."
The Wall Street Journal

“[C]ompelling and informative.”
The Washington Post

“One of the most original books I read in the last year was American Nations….During my five years as an Ambassador in the United States, I spent a lot of time studying the voting patterns of different states and reading American history, and I have to say I find Woodard’s thesis to be fully borne out by my own observations.”
John Bruton, former European Union Ambassador to the United States

“[American Nations] sets itself apart by delving deep into history to trace our current divides to enthno-cultural differences that emerged during the country’s earliest settlement.”

“In a compelling mash-up of the contemporary political geography of authors like Joel Garreau and Dante Chinni with the ethnography and history of David Hackett Finscher (Albion’s Seed), [Colin] Woodard divides North America into eleven distinct “nations”.

The New Republic

“[A] fascinating new ethnographic history of North America.”
Alec MacGillis, The New Republic

“Colin Woodard debunks the simplistic notion of Left Coast, red state, blues state and other broad-brush efforts to peg America’s differences….American Nations pulls off the unlikely feat of both offering the tools for just such a broader, deeper understanding—and demonstrates why, in a larger sense, that effort is doomed….The key to the [American Nations]’s effectiveness is Woodard’s skill—and irreverence—in delving into history with no qualms about being both brisk and contrarian….[I]n offering us a way to better understand the forces at play in the rumpus room of current American politics, Colin Woodard has scored a true triumph. I am going to order copies for my father and sister immediately—and I hope Woodard gets a wide hearing for his fascinating study.”
The Daily Beast

 “[Colin] Woodard offers a fascinating way to parse American (writ large) politics and history in this excellent book.”
Kirkus **Starred Review**

“In American Nations, [Colin Woodard] persuasively reshapes our understanding of how the American political entity came to be….[A] fascinating new take on history.”
Christian Science Monitor

“Provocative reading.”
News and Observer

“Well-researched analysis with appeal to both casual and scholarly readers.”
Library Journal

“Fascinating….Engrossing….In the end, though, [American Nations] is a smart read that feels particularly timely now, when so many would claim a mythically unified “Founding Fathers” as their political ancestors.”
The Boston Globe

The Portland Daily Dispatch

“[Colin] Woodard persuasively argues that since the founding of the United States, 11 distinct geographical “nations” have formed within the Union, each with its own identity and set of values.”
Military History Quarterly

"[Colin] Woodard’s account of American history is a refreshing take, and one I’d recommend to those curious of what causes our cultural differences.”
Montana Kaimin

“If you want to better understand U.S. politics, history, and culture American Nations is to be required reading….By revealing this continent of rivals, American Nations will revolutionize the way Americans think about their past, their country, and themselves and is sure to spark controversy.”
The Herald Gazette

“[C]ontroversial and thought-provoking….This is an important sociological study.”
Bill Bushnell, Morning Sentinel

“[F]or people interested in American history and sociology, American Nations demands reading….American Nations is important reading.”

St. Louis PostDispatch

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