American Nations - Colin Woodard

American Nations

By Colin Woodard

  • Release Date: 2011-09-29
  • Genre: History
Score: 4.5
From 105 Ratings

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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 (author of American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good)  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.


  • Assertions Presented as Facts

    By phobiophobia
    The fact that Woodard is a journalist as opposed to a historian is clear just from the incredibly grating writing style. The book constantly presents assertions as though they are plain facts, and occasionally outright dismisses valid alternate explanations as incorrect without bothering to provide arguments for why his framework is superior. It consequently leaves little room for nuance, despite the fact that the boundaries of his proposed “nations” are definitionally arbitrary. I’m not even saying that his underlying thesis is wrong (it’s certainly interesting), but the unacademic approach makes it hard to take this book seriously.
  • Good but slightly disillusioned

    By tri3ngulr_stan
    Read the book and enjoyed it until I did some research on the author, Colin Woodard. Although he did do a lot of research Woodard isn’t an actual historian, at least to my current knowledge, making this seem somewhat disingenuous. He also uses labels for the American “nations” that aren’t commonly used by actual historians which, again, is according to my current knowledge. In the end though, it appears to be a thoroughly researched book with interesting ideas and thoughts.
  • Huge Disappointment

    By John Kannon
    This book was not good for me personally, but I can see the draw to others. I find history interesting, but not much in this book speaks to my specific interests. The text is super dense and just seems like the reader gets pelted with facts. I found it arduous to read and found myself wishing that the book would end. I ended up reading less than 1/3 of the book even though I had a test on it.
  • American Nations

    By GreatBallsOFire
    If you would like to believe that (republican) neo-confederates working for substandard wages in foreign owned automobile plants located in the deep south are responsible for the downfall of the american auto industry then you’ll love American Nations.
  • American Nations

    By mindphalanx
    I great big brushstrokes picture of American Geo-Ethnic History. Basically, the premise of the book is that various regions of the USA have their own cultural legacy (see Malcolm Gladwell "Outliers"), which determine their politics and social order more so any any particular ethnic group. Essentially, the USA is more of a confederation of competing political and social orders in different regions, and not a monolithic country. The author reasonably explains a variety of historical conflicts through this lens. The explanations are satisfying, and continue to the present day. His explanation of the political coalitions which have dominated at different times is very plausible. IT bears relevance to the current times, and explain why the Republican PArty, despite being essentially a Deep Southern party, which virtually no Latin American or African-American members, has a dominance all out of proportion to their numbers, and indeed even the popularity of their agenda.