Colin Woodard

American Nations

A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

Viking Press 2011

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network November 10, 2011 Marshall Poe

Europeans like to say that “America” (aka the “United States”) is not a nation. They are right and wrong. It’s true that Americans come...

Europeans like to say that “America” (aka the “United States”) is not a nation. They are right and wrong. It’s true that Americans come from all over the place, unlike, say, Germans. Just ask an American where she comes from. She’s likely to reply that she comes from Ireland, Africa, Korea or Germany even if she has never set foot in Ireland, Africa, Korea or Germany. We Americans self-identify as a “nation of immigrants,” not really a “nation” per se.

But if Colin Woodard is right there are in fact nations in America, or rather North America. In his terrific new book American Nations: A History of Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America(Viking, 2011) he identifies a bunch of them: First Nation, Yankeedom, New Netherland, the Midlands, Tidewater, Greater Appalachia, the Deep South, El Norte, the Far West, New France, and the Left Coast. Colin deftly traces the historical origins of each of these cultural regions and then explains how their particular character affected–and continues to affect–North American history. What this amounts to is a new and refreshing way to look at the North American past and present.

And not only that. It turns out I’m a Midlander and my wife is a Yankee. That actually explains a lot…

 

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