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American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

Написано Colin Woodard

Озвучено Walter Dixon


American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

Написано Colin Woodard

Озвучено Walter Dixon

оценки:
4.5/5 (58 оценки)
Длина:
12 часов
Издатель:
Издано:
24 окт. 2011 г.
ISBN:
9781596599888
Формат:
Аудиокнига

Описание

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 take on America's myriad identities and how the conflicts between them have shaped our past and are molding our future.

©2011 Colin Woodward (P)2011 Gildan Media Corp

Издатель:
Издано:
24 окт. 2011 г.
ISBN:
9781596599888
Формат:
Аудиокнига

Об авторе

Colin Woodard, an award-winning author and journalist, is State & National Affairs Writer for The Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, and a longtime correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor and The Chronicle of Higher Education. His work has appeared in The Economist, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Smithsonian, Newsweek/The Daily Beast, Bloomberg View, Washington Monthly and dozens of other national and international publications. A native of Maine, he has reported from more than fifty foreign countries and six continents, and lived for more than four years in Eastern Europe during and after the collapse of communism. His investigative reporting for the Telegram won a 2012 George Polk Award. His book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, was named a Best Book of 2011 by the editors of The New Republic and the Globalist and won the 2012 Maine Literary Award for Non-Fiction. A graduate of Tufts University and the University of Chicago, he lives in Midcoast Maine.


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4.5
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  • (4/5)
    Woodard suggests that the United States has never been a single nation. Rather, it’s comprised of eleven regional cultures that aren’t confined to political boundaries. According to Woodard, the Yankee and Deep Southern cultures have always been opposed to each other, and the other cultures have aligned themselves with one or the other at various points in U.S. history. I didn’t find a lot of new insight here, perhaps because I’ve read many of the books he recommends for further reading. It’s not possible to address eleven cultures in depth in such a short book, so this is largely generalizations about the cultures. The author provides examples to support his thesis, but he doesn’t discuss points that might contradict his thesis. For example, he doesn’t address potential homogenizing effects of mass media and globalization.
  • (4/5)
    America, like Europe, China, India and elsewhere is a complex patchwork of cultures. Homogenizing elements like McDonalds, television and nationalistic patriotism can make it seem like a "melting pot", but that is a naive and idealistic view. Traditionally the North/South divide was the standard view of America's differences, but in the 20th century the Red State / Blue State narrative has arisen. But America is more than two teams. Colin Woodard proposes there are 11 archetypal "nations" in North America, as seen in this map. Ever since the founding of the United States, these 11 cultures fought over the ultimate prize: control of the institutions of the Federal government, namely the Congress, Military, Supreme Court and Presidency. Some of the cultures are well known: Yankees of New England, the Deep South and the French of New Orleans and Quebec. Others are more novel, such as my own home state of Maryland which is in the "Midlands"; and the "Borderlands" at the heart of America but named after the border regions of Scotland, Ireland and Wales were its people and culture originated.This is a very revealing book. It will provide a useful lens to view politics in America, Canada and Mexico. Now that I understand the 11 distinct nations, some things start to make more sense. For example in the news today, aging rocker Ted Nugent told an National Rifle Association assembly that they should fight back against a totalitarian Government and act more like Braveheart. I didn't get mad at his seeming stupidity, like I normally would, rather I understood he is a Borderlander speaking romantically to his "nation" with images they understand - a nation very distinct from others. In the end, America could fall apart if the differences between nations become too pronounced (there is evidence this trend is worsening), but what will hold it together is a common bond of self interest and a strong federal government that is not dominated by any one nation or coalition of nations.
  • (5/5)
    I finished this over the summer of 2015, and it has quickly become the second book* I recommend to anyone wishing to have a better structural understanding of the US. The author takes an approach more common in other regional histories, but unusual in studies of North America, to first differentiate "peoples" (or cultures) from their governmental units, and then identifiy several different such peoples within the scope of our continent spanning Federal Republic. It has provided a valuable thread in understanding many of the historical and current "domestic" conflicts in the US.*Note: the first is The Fourth Turning by Strauss and Howe)
  • (5/5)
    This a grand sweeping book, showing how various cultures settled or evolved on North American soil. It is gives an alternate view to history, going beyond a description of events to sociological causation of the various peoples of the United States, Canada, and northern Mexico. It is a worth successor to the Nine Nations of North America (Joel Garreau) that came out 30 yeas earlier.While reading the book, I began to realize the author was probably not a Southerner as he seemed to regard the various Southern cultures (Tideater, Deep South, and Greater Appalachia) as very much 'other.' This does not detract from his analysis, which I found quite illuminating. For instance, he describes the Midlands as starting in the Philadelphia area and pushes through north Central Ohio and Indiana, and all of Iowa, with branches down to the Oklahoma panhandle (not sure about this) and up the Missouri River Valley into Canada. Certainly the Philadelpia accent (slightly modified) carries all the way west, unlike other east coast dialects wnich got changed quite a bit: Michigan and Wisconsin in Yankeedom do not have New England accents; the Tidewater accent got changed as both the Deep South , Appalachia, and Texas all have distinctive acccents to my ear; nad the New York accent of New Netherlands is not heard beyond 60-70 miles of New York City.This book is insightful on the wars fought on American soil, as well as the various textures of race relations. I do recommend this book.
  • (5/5)
    This is a valuable and provocative book, in the best sense, For me at least, it took some of my assumptions about the U.S, shook them up, and showed me some new and unexpected patterns -- patterns that make a lot of sense in terms of current political realities. The book, of course, has much in common with Joel Garreau's 1981 "Nine Nations of North America" (also a book that I valued highly). The big difference, for me, is the more historical focus of Woodward's book. It makes sense to me that the town meetings of old New England have a lot to do with the community-orientation (blueness, if you will) of modern day Massachusetts, and the loneliness of the frontier with Rocky Mountain libertarianism. This is not to say that Woodward doesn't stretch some arguments awfully far, reaching conclusions that can seem formulaic, and with which I don't always agree. But the book is both informative and thought provoking, both very valuable things. I've recommended it to several friends, and recommend it to you!
  • (5/5)
    I kept starting and stopping this book, but was determined to get it off my "currently reading" shelf one way or the other so made one more attempt. (It's in good company, the other book I tried to read for several years before finishing was A Tale of Two Cities.) I haven't taken an American History class in a very long time, so this was a good review in addition to being very thought provoking. I grew up in Yankee nation and I can see how that colors my approach to many things-- one of the things I am most sure about in life is that education is the key to a better life. This book helped me clarify that a bit-- education when it causes thinking and true assessment is what I mean, not necessarily social indoctrination, although I can see how those would be hard to separate. I had not previously thought much about how the United States would progress into the future-- this book shows you that there might be several possible tomorrows. What I need to do next is figure out how to apply this type of thinking to decisions I need to make now (elections, volunteer causes, etc.) so that the future is one I'd like to see happen.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this book. The author makes no secret of his yankee leanings, and is clearly anti-dixie. That being said, I still enjoyed the analysis; especially the speculation about possible futures in the last quarter of the book. I'm not a huge reader of history for fun. This was an excellent blend of history and supposition. It was light enough to interest any reader, and yet insightful/researched enough to keep history buffs engaged. All in all a good read.
  • (5/5)
    Excellent cultural history of the United States that succinctly explains how the eleven regional cultures of the country influenced history to this day. Anyone with questions needs to read this book!
  • (5/5)
    A fine tuning and expansion of [Albion's Seed] about the 11 cultural nations created upon their inception and holding firm through time, expansion of influence, and immigrant influxes. A very fascinating and revealing way to understand the hegemony of the Americas.
  • (4/5)
    The subject matter for this book is fascinating. I’ve taken tons of history courses, but after reading certain key books, including this one, it is clear we teach mythology rather than history in U.S. schools. Take this book, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, and Ronald Takaki’s A Different Mirror and you would have the basis for an honest, clear-eyed history of the U.S.
  • (5/5)
    Important historical perspective that explains a lot even as it complicates the topic of how we “reunite” our country. Good read - well researched and written.
  • (3/5)
    This started out with such an interesting premise, but as I went into it further, I became uncomfortable with the author's bias (my perception). I probably won't finish it, but his descriptions of the different cultures will be with me. Best to try to understand where others come from I guess.
  • (5/5)
    At last, I think I have begun to understand what this USA entity is.
    All my life, I, like the rest of the west, have been heavily influenced by American culture. I have often made a stab at understanding exactly what makes this political beast tick, and still manage to tock, despite obvious division.
    It's difficult enough to understand the country of my birth and abiding, let alone that movie that's always playing across the ocean. And what a movie! What a book! How does someone manage to figure out and grasp all that story, then manage to explain and entertain in such a way that even I begin to see it? Great, incisive, valuable book.
  • (4/5)
    By Colin Woodard – This 2011 book—a pick of my book club—is a thought-provoking analysis of the different cultural strains, mostly organized along geographic lines, that make up what author Sarah Vowell calls “the (somewhat) United States.” Woodard’s subtitle is “a history of the eleven rival regional cultures of North America.” Many of those rivalries, which date to our earliest history, well before the Revolutionary War, have been amplified, not erased, by subsequent events, and help to explain some of the political schisms we see today. The answer to a frustrated electorate’s “Why can’t our politicians (and voters) ever agree on anything?” is partly that they never did. Of course, aggregate data hide a lot of individual differences, and none of the characterizations Woodward has developed for his eleven regions describe every individual living there, just the region’s general cultural tendencies. Some of his regions cross over into Canada and Mexico too. The regions, which he says “have been hiding in plain sight throughout our history,” are:•Yankeedom began as a “religious utopia in the New England wilderness.” Those early colonies emphasized education, local political control, and efforts aimed at the greater good of the community. •New Netherland laid down the cultural underpinnings of greater New York City; a trading society that was multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and committed to freedom of inquiry. Its precepts were memorialized in the Bill of Rights.•The Midlands, founded by English Quakers and organized around the middle class people predominantly of German background and moderate political opinions who don’t welcome government intrusion.•Tidewater catered to conservative aristocratic elites who were gentleman farmers, strong on respect for authority and dependent on slave labor. It was dominant during the colonial period, but lost its standing by dint of its culture’s inability to expand beyond coastal areas.•Greater Appalachia was founded by “wave upon wave of rough, bellicose settlers from the war-ravaged borderlands of Northern Ireland, northern England, and the Scottish lowlands” who in their native lands formed a strong independent spirit, suspicious of aristocratic overlords and social reformers alike (think Mel Gibson in Braveheart).•The Deep South, founded by Barbados slave lords, became the bastion of white supremacy and aristocratic privilege. It is the least democratic of the 11 regions while being “the wellspring of African American culture.”•New France is an amalgam of the Canadian Province of Québec and some other areas of far eastern Canada as well as the Acadian (“Cajun”) territories of southern Louisiana. •El Norte dates to the late 16th century, when the Spanish empire founded missions north into California. It includes Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Colorado and Texas, as well as northern Mexican states that, Woodard says, are more oriented toward the United States than Mexico City.•The Left Coast is a narrow strip from Monterey, California, to Juneau, Alaska, and includes San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. The cities were originally developed by Yankee traders who came by ship and the countryside by overland arrivals from the Appalachian region and the culture today is an amalgam of Yankee idealism and Appalachian independence.•The Far West is the only area “where environmental factors truly trumped ethnic ones.” The region is unsuited for traditional farming, but its resources have been exploited by companies headquartered in distant cities and they and the federal government own vast tracts of land. Locals largely oppose federal interference (just in the news again lately), even as they depend on federal dollars.•First Nation he defines as a large region in the far north, where the indigenous population has never given up its lands and still employs traditional cultural practices. Like any analysis intended to look at history through a single lens, Woodard may tailor his arguments to support his approach. Nevertheless, he presents an intriguing hypothesis that carries the ring of truth. In this political season, many of the old antagonisms and patterns he describes are newly visible and, frankly, any cogent explanation of why Americans do some of the things we do is welcome!
  • (5/5)
    This is an excellent exposition of how the multiple "cultures" in the US developed from the time the first settlers arrived from Europe. This aspect of US history is far more illuminating and valuable to understanding how we got to where we are today as well as our likely future.

    The book is dense and requires quite a bit of concentration by the reader, but its well worth it.
  • (5/5)
    In the 1970s there was a book called "The Nine Nations of North America" - this is a more recent version of it. Highly recommended if you want to understand the interplay of cultures and regions in American politics -- and how the American history of immigration is revealed in contemporary life.
  • (5/5)
    The best! telling of the story of the history of the United States. Also concise, very informative & very readable.
  • (4/5)
    The thesis is brilliant in its simplicity. Woodward goes a little wonky when he attempts to explain the religious aspects of these various "micro-geographies" but his political analysis is wonderfully done and insightful.
  • (5/5)
    The concept behind this book struck me the same way the theory of Continental Drift did--it's so freaking obvious we should have sen this before. It certainly makes it easier to comprehend the history of North America.
  • (2/5)
    American Nations, journalist Colin Woodward’s history of the rival “cultures” that comprise North America, might best be understood by aspiring writers as a cautionary tale about scope. It is one thing to write a convincing op-ed piece that makes the same arguments as Woodward’s book, but it is another thing entirely to try to document the histories of eleven cultures over six centuries in a three hundred page book. Woodward tries. He fails.Woodward’s failure is not, as many students of history might sneer, that journalists shouldn’t write history. Woodward simply takes on too much, as is evident from the subtitle: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. That’s not what American Nations is really about, though. Woodward pays short shrift to Canada (although he does mention it, favorably, near the end of the book) and essentially ignores Mexico, with the exception of its northern states, which form the southern reaches of the culture dubbed “El Norte.” (Yes, Mexico is part of North America, even its south.) This book is not really about America the geographical entity, as in “the Americas,” but the USA. Woodward is mainly concerned with the white cultures of the United States, which he terms Yankeedom, New Netherlands, Appalachia (or the Borderlands), the Midlands, the Tidewater, Deep South, the Far West, and the Left Coast. His history of these regions, at least through the Civil War and Reconstruction, seems sound, even if it is sparsely documented. There is something to be said for the arguments Woodward makes in the first half of the book. The Civil War, for instance, was obviously a regional conflict, but Woodward’s argument that it was also a cultural conflict between Yankeedom and the Deep South over control of the federal government sheds some light onto the hostilities and the subsequent political history of the country.The second half of the book is less convincing. The tone is rushed. I imagine Woodward realized at this point the scope of his project and was eager to complete it. There are inconsistencies in Woodward’s arguments. If, for instance, New Netherlands (i.e., New York City) valued economic expediency even more than it did multiculturalism, why did its people consistently align themselves with Yankee policies over those of the Deep South? Yankees favored the progressive “perfection” of society, while the Southern oligarchs sought deregulation in order to enrich themselves and their brethren. One answer might be the presence of so many immigrants in NYC, but Woodward earlier dismisses immigrants as a cultural force: they were everywhere rapidly assimilated into the majority cultures in which they found themselves. (The descendants of certain immigrants might object to this statement!)African-Americans, the minority that most shaped American history, are portrayed as victims of slavery and segregation. The cultural influence of blacks is limited, apparently, to barbecue and rock and roll. Not bad, but certainly African-Americans provided more to America than labor, foodways and music? Woodward mostly ignores the political influence of blacks, noting that they sided with Yankeedom in the wake of the Civil War. Blacks sided with the “Northern Alliance” (Yankeedom, the Midlands, New Netherlands and the Left Coast) when they regained voting rights beginning in the 1950s and ‘60s, but what about more recently? Presumably African-Americans mindlessly follow the lead of whatever culture is opposing the Deep South. Woodward, stressing the racist sentiments of the Deep South, Tidewater and the Borderlands, wholly ignores the extreme racism present throughout even the “tolerant” cultures of the North. (See James Loewen’s Sundown Towns for a horrifying description of Northern racism from the mid-nineteenth century through 2000.) It goes without saying that the indigenous peoples of the United States are wholly ignored, and Canada’s First People nearly so.I don’t list all of these faults to pick on Woodward or to harp on how his thesis fails. I think there is something there. The first half of the book, in which Woodward discusses the histories of the cultures through the Civil War is especially strong, if one takes into account that Woodward is really limiting his attention to the white cultures that made up the United States. The second half of the book is rushed and overall less convincing. Woodward lists politicians and the cultures from which they originated, making slim connections between their platforms and their supposed cultural values. Cultures are, in the second half of the book, reduced to stereotypes. I’d certainly like to read a Southerner’s take on Woodward’s portrayal of the Deep South; I suspect it would be enlightening. An interesting effort that falls short of its lofty goals.
  • (4/5)
    It is a great read to see the history of this country that certainly explains some of what we see going on here today in this difficult moment. I do question the history writing norms though that report on cultural details and symptoms of difference as if they alone are explanations for the way history plays out. It is clear the youth movements of the Midlands, Yankeedom, and Left Coast had to be stopped. The progress they established laid the ground work for perhaps the most energetic, creative, and economically accomplished generation ever on earth. They created a lot of middle class wealth and middle class political power wherein lies the real reason behind the story here. Like the Moors and Jews of Spain in another golden age, or the Amsterdam middle class who came after them, with other enlightenment moments like Prague in Bohemia, they had to be stopped by a Reactionary Royalist Putsch! Elizabeth I of England is well documented for her plots to dampen the scary wealth and political power of her woollen makers by importing waves of French Huguenot linen-makers as competition from a civil war she actually funded. Using the ends against the center is perhaps one of the most masterful Machiavellian strategies. Pitting strategies are de rigeur in Oligarchy and Empire. That they go so undetected by history writers in 21st Century USA is just mah-veh-lous for the descendents of the Oligarchs!The mysteries embedded in this book can be fun reading for hapless Americans with a lot of family history they never really knew. In the wrong hands it can be the playbook for divide-and-rule and the dismantling of the Republic, never a moment too late! The market for natural resources still buried under public and private lands here is just now hotting up for the century to come!These details can also explain the very explicit efforts to engineer culture war in this country since the 1970s. Ralph Reed admits his goals of divide-and-rule using conservative Christianity in the Appalachia/Midlander/Deep South/Far West nations. He details the techniques he used for his bosses to get Roman Catholic blue collar workers throughout the Midlander region to vote with the Plutocrats as if they suddenly shared some profound common interests.These efforts are explicit. They are no accident. They are real tools of war. Scholars write about these things including how NATO uses them on enemy populations to topple enemy Plutocrats. Mr. Woodard doesn't mention any of this at all, but instead seems to suggest a foregone conclusion that culture war would naturally arise here simply because the people were different. If there weren't economic shortages of work and inadequate resources for decent life and retirement caused by legalized hoarding in the first instance, there would be no reason for culture war to erupt between these nations. The Robert Morris tricks with money are great. But, the remaining tricks over the last century with money to trigger all this stuff like what is going on here today remain hardly mentioned, and certainly not as root causes of simmering tensions.Mr. Woodard clearly shows that the Aristocratic Authoritarian South has spread its influence over the rest of the country. Plutos everywhere beyond the South must recognize the usefulness of these methods, once they too got hands on astronomical fortunes to protect from the "mob". It is clear some Michigan, Ohio, Omaha, Southwestern PA, CT, TX, etc., along with Wall Street (New Netherland) Plutocrats of course, now all recognize the usefulness of these Deep South strategies. The Courts went along with it too approving such game changing legislation as FEC 1974, and rulings like Buckley vs Valeo and now Citizens United.This knowledge in the wrong hands can also perhaps explain the combination of international and local home grown (made here) capital backing media enterprises operating in the central regions like News Corporation, Clearchannel, or Community First Newspapers Holdings, Inc. who purvey dubious media and news products for certain ends. Culture war is right up there with disinformation and misdirection in the list of NATO approved and used information warfare practices. It looks like these techniques have been waged right here on us to exploit long understood from the very beginning differences Mr. Woodard so carefully now elucidates for us.He cites the Southern Planters using religion and denial of schools to control poor whites throughout the region, but doesn't take it a step further to the current times. I wonder why this is. Aristocrats in Europe always used religion, denying education, and even degrading economic and social life to pit against each other, control and manipulate their subject peoples. Bismarck waged "kulturkampf" against Catholic small holding village based farm communities to drive them off the land and into city slums for factory work in the "industrial miracle". This is the same thing happening to villagers in Africa today driving them off ancestral lands into new Chinese and Western financed mining enterprises. The same things are happening here now, and they are not happening simply because cultural differences exist. They are actively exploited. Woodard mentions the front of camera preachers Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Jimmy Bakker et al, but not Lewis Powell, nor the money funds that made those TV networks and continue to do so in other incarnations.It is clear Aristocratic methods emanating from the Authoritarian South are achieving similar social engineering against us today. Richmond VA lawyer Lewis Powell's famous memo reflects this insidious plot to take control over many institutions including education and publishing. The Supreme Court enabled it all of course agreeing every step of the way. The scary thing is that British money has always been a big player in natural resources in this country, along with Saudi money. While BP is clearly an international Anglo-American owned affair, the impunity they've enjoyed from their Gulf Spill shows what they've together achieved in the US over the last 30 years exploiting regional differences here just like their great-grandfathers did everywhere else in the world their money once dominated.Perhaps Mr Woodard's most revealing remark was the one about the Southern Authoritarians accepting universal suffrage when it finally happened to them. "They didn't mind poor whites voting as long as they voted for who they were supposed to." This kind of explains the two-party system we have here today where private business interests fund both party committees more or less equally. It is funny though that Mr. Woodard suggests that one day "the nation's leaders will betray their oath to uphold the US Constitution". Most critics of the US today at home and around the world contend that the constitution has not been upheld for quite some time! That is if representative government as a basic right really is part of the constitution. FEC 1974 certainly seemed like the beginning of a long slide into this Authoritarian abyss. And, "the incarceration of the Supreme Court justices" hardly seems necessary when they have complied with the needs of Authoritarian Aristocrats from home and abroad throughout this long slide.The part about "inviting meddling from imperial powers overseas" also seems funny considering the capital structure of News Corporation, and now SuperPACs flooding our elections with legal foreign corporate money for attack ads carefully constructed to play off these regional cultural differences, that goes without saying, that is what Machiavellianism is, but also even deeper psychological patterns in individuals.I do recommend the book. It is very insightful about our culture and full of useful history for any of us with deep roots in this country. However, US history writers had better change their norms and report what manipulation is really going on behind the symptoms. Machiavelli wrote the textbook to exploit cultural differences. The Southern Aristocrats already knew that with their Jim Crow culture they maintained for so long. The British Aristocrats knew how to play it for 300 years around the world to their advantage. The little border disputes between CT and PA, and VA and PA, and VA and MD are also evidence they knew what they were doing with their latitude based land grants. That the rest of them now know it and remain free to practice it on us is the real story here.This book and most others like it have a long way to go in explaining cause and effect. I agree that the place could fall into violence between all these peoples described in this book. But, that will get funded to be a coverup for what really happened here!
  • (5/5)
    Colin Woodard has given us a thought-provoking, deeply researched, easy to read look at the various ethno-cultural groups making up the North American continent from Canada to Mexico, from the Native Americans who were subjugated by the Spanish (or annihilated by the Anglos) to the Inuits of Canada who are enjoying a resurgence of their identity and culture.He posits these 11 "nations" to be Yankeedom, New Netherlands, The Midlands, Tidewater, the Deep South, Greater Appalachia, New France, The First Nation, the Far West, El Norte, and the Left Coast. For each, he introduces us to the earliest members, traces their original settlement and the subsequent expansions to other areas of the continent, their expectations, educational levels, governing style, religious and cultural influences from the "Old Country", and analyzes their influence on key historical events of the North American development from elected officials, wars, and legislative achievements to looking at the current political gridlock occuring in the US.His insights are exceptionally provacative and give the average reader pause to re-examine what we have been taught. For example ....
    In the end, The U.S. Constitution was the product of a messy compromise among the rival nations. From the gentry of Tidewater and the Deep South, we received a strong president to be selected by an "electoral college" rather than elected by ordinary people. From New Netherland we received the Bill of Rights, a set of very Dutch guarantees that individuals would have freedom of conscience, speech, religion, and assembly. To the Midlands we owe the fact that we do not have a strong unitary state under a British-style national Parliament; they insisted on state sovereignty as insurance against Southern despots and Yankee meddling. The Yankees ensured that small states would have an equal say in the Senate, with even the very populous state of Massachusetts frustrating Tidewater and the Deep South's desire for proportional representation in that chamber; Yankees also forced a compromise whereby slave lords would be able to count only three-fifths of their slave population when tabulating how many congressmen they would receive. pg. 148 It's a profound book that is not a quick read; neither is it a plodding read. He often offers us "What ifs?" that introduce stunning possibilities e.g., if South Carolina hadn't fired on Ft Sumter, the Union might have been able to negotiate a settlement, and eventually the many nations would have re-aligned themselves into several --up to four--separate confederations, or ended forming a collaboration somewhat akin to today's European Union. To supplement several well-drawn and clearly notated maps, Woodard's style is enjoyable, clear and concise. He gives us an especially thoughtful look at the role the Canadians and northern Mexicans have played (and continue to play) in the culture and politics of the US. He poses questions, synthesizes the best of scholarship available at the moment to give us intelligent and interesting answers. Never did I feel I was reading a text book, although I'd certainly hope that all US history and political science majors will be required to read this. It is simply one of the most interesting and fascinating books I have read this year. It will certainly be on my Top Ten Non-Fiction list for 2011.