American Nations by Colin Woodard is a revolutionary and revelatory take on how America’s myriad have shaped our past and are molding our future.
The book takes 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.
Woodard proposes a framework for examining American history and current events based on a view of the country as a federation of eleven nations, each defined by a shared culture established by each nation’s founding population.
These nations include Yankeedom, New Netherland, the Midlands, Greater Appalachia, Tidewater, Deep South, El Norte, and the Left Coast.
Woodard illustrates and explains why “American” values vary sharply from one region to another.
The main themes of the book are the differences between the various nations of America, the importance of understanding these differences, and the need to recognize the unique cultures of each nation. Woodard argues that immigrants to the US do not lose their identities in the great melting pot, but instead, we are 11 nations within one, each with its own culture and politics.
What I Liked
I loved, loved his big idea and how he describes it. I felt like I could see America and American politics much more clearly. It’s rare to find a “big explanation” of something like American politics, but this one comes very close.
What I Did Not Like
Nothing! It’s amazing – I recommended it to my 12 year old, who also thoroughly enjoyed it.