114 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Book
This is a remarkable book, synthesizing many earlier efforts to explain the distinct differences among different regions of the US - and Canada and part of Mexico too.
Some reviewers have stated that there is not much new here compared to Joel Garreau's 1980s book postulating 9 nations. I disagree - to me the historical thread tracing the origins of these...
Published on November 22, 2011 by Anthony Close
163 of 210 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How many sub-nations compose the USA?
Many people think of the United States as a nation with two regional or sub-national entities --- the North and the South. The two sub-nations have identifiable differences in outlook. The South, a traditionally rural and agricultural region, has always been perceived to have a relatively conservative and individualistic outlook, oriented toward small government and...
Published on October 10, 2011 by Alan F. Sewell
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114 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Book,
This review is from: American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (Hardcover)
This is a remarkable book, synthesizing many earlier efforts to explain the distinct differences among different regions of the US - and Canada and part of Mexico too.
Some reviewers have stated that there is not much new here compared to Joel Garreau's 1980s book postulating 9 nations. I disagree - to me the historical thread tracing the origins of these differences are what makes it so compelling. Woodward's romp through that history is worth the price of the book. And there are startlingly different accounts of many of the historical events that are not covered in high school text books, that's for sure.
As a Canadian, it is interesting to see a treatment of history that, for Canadians, does not stop at the US border; and for Americans, does not stop a the Canadian (or Mexican) border.
I do agree with reviewers that Woodward's comments at the end of the book add too much personal opinion that diminishes the historical objectivity he shows elsewhere.
In summary, this is a compelling explanation of the enormous regional differences that make up the cultural and political landscape of America - and explains a lot about those same differences in Canada too. I strongly recommend this book to both those interested in North American History and those interested in its cultural and political trends.
90 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like scales falling from my eyes,
This review is from: American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (Hardcover)
Colin Woodard has written the story of North America that should be taught in school in place of the simplified, sanitized, nearly fictional versions created, like all national histories, for the purpose of welding disparate peoples into a single nation by convincing them they all share a common history. I just got it back from loaning to a friend and re-read it. Like other reviewers here I had read Joel Garreau's "Nine Nations" in the 1980s and more recently Kevin Phillips' "The Cousins Wars" and Dante Chinni's "Patchwork Nation". They were full of interesting information, but Nine Nations and Patchwork Nation didn't address the origins or persistence of the notable regional differences among North Americans. I think Woodard's main thesis is that these regional cultures left their marks so deeply that we are no longer consciously aware of them, and should be. My experience living and working in several of these "nations" indicates that the regional differences do persist, though national media and advertising have masked them.
Reading "American Nations" I felt the pieces falling into place. I am undecided on the question of just how valid the thesis of eleven rival nations is as political science, but it makes for a fine explication of our history. And as cultural anthropology it provides the same level of explanatory power for understanding our cultural differences that the theory of evolution provided for understanding biology, or that the theory of plate tectonics did for understanding planetary-scale geologic processes. Just as those two sciences could not advance beyond the observational phase without a theoretical framework, this third dimension of historical immigration patterns transforms a two-dimensional hodgepodge of cultural observations into a meaningful three-dimensional portrait far more illuminating than the usual North-South analysis.
The map on the "American Nations" cover showed me that I grew up roughly where the Deep South, Appalachia, and El Norte meet in eastern Texas. We said we were "Scotch-Irish" but seemed to have no knowledge of or interest in how we came to be there, nor did I ever know anyone who was aware that there were early Spanish missions in the pine woods of East Texas or that there had been a large Cherokee village not four miles from my home. Later I learned that my own family had entered the U.S. in South Carolina from Barbados in the 1680s; little is known about them except that they were poor whites, so now we know there is a good chance they were indentured servants to Barbadian slave lords. How many Americans know the Deep South was founded at Charleston by migrants from Barbados? I never did. I had always lumped Tidewater, Appalachia, and the Deep South as "the South", but distinguishing them by origin explains a lot.
Now I have some insight into features of my county that have puzzled me for decades: why the tiny community where I attended school in the 1950s and 60s was clustered around its original plantation house, Cumberland Presbyterian church, and cotton fields (it was founded by a slave-holding family from Savannah, Georgia in the 1840s or 50s); why my neighbors had such casual contempt for blacks, Jews, Mexicans, Indians, Catholics, Chinese, and all other foreigners; why Ku Klux Klan actions were still fresh in older folks' memories; why blacks lived either in their own parts of town literally across the tracks or entirely separately in their own towns or isolated communities tucked away in the woods; why my parents were so puzzled that "our Negroes" seemed dissatisfied with our hand-me-down clothes and an occasional pig (I recall puzzled discussions of "What do they want?" implying lack of gratitude); why some neighbors said "Bide a wee" for "stay a while" or occasionally exclaimed "Gott in himmel!" but otherwise spoke in Texas drawl; why hillfolk in remote cabins in the woods practiced subsistence hunting using antique Springfield and Henry rifles, had a near-religious devotion to one-shot kills and complete disregard for hunting season and licenses, and distilled their own liquor (Appalachians for sure!); why there was a deeply ingrained presumption that gentlemen rode horses and peasants walked, so any poor farmer that came into oil money bought horses immediately (Deep South cavaliers influence); why there was hardly any familiarity with or emphasis on attending college, and disdain for the (rare) "know it all college boy" (Appalachian ignorance and apathy influenced by Deep South resistance to education for the masses); why employers referred to employees as "hands"; why our relatives in far southwest Texas seemed to us to live in a different country (they did - El Norte), while relatives in Tennessee and business associates in Mississippi seemed to come from an earlier and more violent time; why Cajuns in south Louisiana and southeast Texas seemed like such an anomaly in the Deep South in their Catholicism and complete disregard of racial boundaries (New France egalitarianism); maybe even why some blacks in East Texas practiced a strange mixture of Southern Baptist services and voodoo lore - one local black church was even named the Voodoo Baptist Church, and the pastor roamed the area on foot wearing an animal skin cape and carrying a long shepherd's staff (West Africa via the West Indies). Does any of this sound like growing up in Michigan? Have you lived in a state with a state religion? Texas has one, best characterized as southernbaptistfootball. Recognition that the region is essentially Appalachia with a strong Deep Southern influence and only faint traces of Spanish and Indian influence remaining provides the key to unlock all those scattered observations made as an ignorant but curious youth.
Knowing the origins of Yankeedom, the Midlands, Tidewater, and the cavalier South even sheds light on why North Dakotans and Minnesotans, coastal Northern Californians, Oregonians, Washingtonians, and my in-laws in Evanston, Illinois are so similar to New England Yankees, while my prospective in-laws in northern Virginia were deeply interested in our "bloodlines".
Appalachia and the Deep South were of particular interest to me, but the story of the founding and migrations of El Norte, New England, New Netherland, New France, the Midlands, Tidewater, the Far West, the Left Coast, and more recently the founding of the Canadian First Nation are completely fascinating and illuminating, and leave me embarrassed at how much is new to me. (Woodard could've made it an even dozen by including New Sweden, a Swedish colony along the Delaware River in parts of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania from 1638 to 1655! I guess it didn't leave enough of a cultural mark.)
Lastly, I did not think Woodard unfairly favored the Yankees; his description showed the harsh, violent, and meddlesome parts of their Puritan cultural heritage along with the elements we still cherish (for much more detail see Fischer's "Albion's Seed"). The key difference is that Yankees changed with the times. Nor did I take the epilogue as an unwelcome interjection of personal opinion. I read it as unflinching commentary that grappled with unpleasant realities and made some educated extrapolations regarding possible futures for the U.S. and North America. Woodard is not the first to speculate along these lines of fracture, as he notes. And I have made the same comments on "the Baptist equivalent of sharia law" since the conservative coup of the Southern Baptist Convention in the mid-1990s. The Deep South has been a reluctant participant in the U.S. federation and has routinely made threats to withdraw since the Articles of Confederation days; in the 2010 mid-term election we again heard southern politicians talk of secession. That would be either puzzling or shocking without this deep background. Can a nation-state cobbled together from Dutch, Spanish, French, and multiple waves of incompatible English colonists, along with unwilling Indians and Africans, really hold together for another 200 years? Maybe a mutual divorce based on irreconcilable differences would eventually result in more compatible second marriages for all or even decisions that they prefer to go it alone.
And really lastly - I've enjoyed and learned nearly as much from the reviewers and commenters here as from the book.
66 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unfied field theory of American history,
This review is from: American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (Kindle Edition)
If you like your history big, all-encompassing, different, quirky, and bound to make you think, you'll love this one.
It's basically a follow-up to David Hackett Fisher's Albion's Seed. That book, which came out in 1989, posited 4 basic cultures that settled the US, and which continued to have a huge influence up to this day.
To those cultures (Puritan New England, Quaker Pennsylvania, Cavalier Tidewater, and Scots-Irish Appalachia), Woodard has added a few more (New Netherlands and the Deep South, for example), and extended coverage of them up to the current day. He does an excellent job showing how different the nations were at the time of the Revolution, and why uniting the country was as difficult as it was. He also shows how the different cultures extended across the landscape (for example, a Yankee influence in the Western Reserve of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota as well as a similar influence on the "Left Coast"). He does a good job showing how immigration fits in as well (basically, the original cultures were so strong that immigrants went where they fit in). Finally, he shows how the current impasse between red and blue states can all be tied back to a basic cultural division between Yankeedom and the Deep South. It really does help explain "what's the matter with Kansas?"
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slicing America Differently,
This review is from: American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (Hardcover)
Given that North Americans by and large have been quite a migratory lot, is it possible that the author could label what we would normally and vaguely identify as "regional differences" as "nations" with powerful and distinct identities? Colin Woodard, historian and journalist would have us believe that even today the North American continent embraces eleven of these, which he describes as "rival regional cultures" that beg serious attention, if we are to understand and deal with North American politics, economics, and above all social values. Woodard would have us believe that "one nation indivisible" is a myth created and sustained to cover our incompatibilities and deter our further fragmentation.
Though I did not identify it as such at the time, my migration from Ohio to be educated in a Maryland highschool and later to take up a Fellowship to earn my doctorate in California in the mid-1970s involved substantial amounts of what we describe today as culture shock. Caught in the midst of what Woodard in retrospect calls "culture wars" I was mostly just humored by the bumper stickers worn on cars from the Pacific Northwest that read, "Don't Californicate Oregon," and "Water in Oregon is pasteurized: it flows through pasture after pasture,"--the aim was to deter the surge of unbridled urban expansion and development into pristine, "wide-open spaces."
Perhaps the key distinction here is that, according to the author, nations are what have culture; states try to create them. He reminds us that the dynamic of artificial boundaries, "bringing states into existence" are a result of colonization or political gerrymandering, and not necessarily coherent or coterminous with the cultures of the people enclosed by them. While most of us are familiar with this concept from analyses of the discord in sub-Saharan Africa, where European colonial powers carved up and negotiated political boundaries with little or no sense of the peoples, both sedentary and migratory living across them, we have not thought much about how the concept may apply elsewhere. Some are beginning to recognize in the bloodshed of revolution and in the turmoil of the Arab Spring, that this is the case as well in what we call the "Middle East." Woodard would extend this as well to the colonization of the North American continent with the eventual establishment of the United "States," where the cultural blocs he describes as "nations" thrive across boundaries, despite how politically and geographically fixed they appear on maps.
For the reader's reference I list here Woodard's eleven "American Nations," (along with his mapping of them), each with a couple of identifying cultural descriptions. I leave it to the reader of the book to enter into the complexity of the cultures, their development and their geographical reach, along with their alliances and their enmities that are detailed in the book itself:
1. First Nation: indigenous peoples, today reclaiming sovereignty and influence.
2. New France: liberal, earthy, egalitarian, including a nation in waiting (Quebec).
3. Yankeedom: once religious, now secular Puritan moralism, in pursuit of the greater good. Communitarian but authoritarian, feudal, and declining, but by migration extending its cultural influence over the northern Midwest and the Left Coast.
4. New Netherland: A global commercial trading society, tolerant, pragmatic and creative. Dutch in many ways, despite declining numbers of those of actual Dutch origin.
5. Tidewater: historically influential aristocratic gentry, declining influence due to its geographical isolation to the mid-Atlantic coast and the size and strength of its neighbors' cultures.
6. Deep South: British colonial origins in Caribbean slave plantations, polarized on racial lines, frustrated nation state, bellicose, currently struggling to maintain recently acquired political ascendency.
7. Greater Appalachia: Scots-Irish roots, warrior ethic, seeking above all individual liberty, culturally insouciant, often impoverished, rural.
8. The Midlands: Germanic, government skeptical, trying to mind its own business, passive and sometimes pacifist, includes the core of English-speaking Canada, as well as a swath across the center of what we commonly call "the Midwest."
9. El Norte: Hispanic, divided by a militarized border, growing, a potential reconquista.
10. The Far West: developed, colonized, and exploited by the seaboard nations, big business and federal controls.
11. The Left Coast: Related to Yankeedom in values, at war with a libertarian-corporate agenda of the Far West and the values of the Deep South.
The critical question which the book raises and which the interculturalist must ask, is: Does the cultural discourse, values and behaviors of these "nations" actually persist and acculturate the constant flow of newcomers from the other "nations" as well as from abroad, given the mobility of Americans and the constant stream of immigration? If so, how, and to what degree? What are the dynamics of hybridity? What is stable within them and what has shifted over time? How is the culture of each shaped and perpetuated? The author cites ample evidence in mental and behavior patterns that persist and, despite the ingrafting of substantial immigration and mobility, still bear fruit from their founders' cultural roots. We are reminded that these cultures are alive and well to the degree that they consistently and currently steer the efforts of politicians to get elected on both the local and national tickets and are inevitable predictors of legislative positioning on many national issues. They can also be traced linguistically by the present day distribution of accents and speech patterns.
Part One of American Nations is called "Origins" and addresses the period from 1590 to 1769. These opening chapters are dedicated to describing the detailed history of the founding of the first eight of these nations. It is briefly interrupted by a chapter describing "The Colonies First Revolt," which took place against the policies of King James in the 1680's, roughly a century before the wars for independence from Britain and from each other, commonly lumped together as the "Revolutionary War" were set in motion.
Part Two tells the story of "Unlikely Allies, 1770 to 1815." By the beginning of this period, each of the eight eastern nations had formed substantial cultural roots, derived from class, ethnicity, common experience and regional interests. The period is marked, according to Woodard not by one, but six "revolutionary wars," between the nations as well as against their British overlords, and the attempts to found workable alliances despite stark culturally rooted divisions in both loyalist and independence minded camps. The shaky alliance, while it laid the basis for confederation and then union, was threatened repeatedly by secession from the very beginning and in fact consolidated the national identities in the not so "United" States. Independence did not necessarily equate with coherent democracy, sometimes explicitly rejected by the cultural discourse of certain nations and, where not, often eliminated on a practical level by wealth, class and disenfranchisement. The existence of democracy is still being fought over along these traditional lines.
Part Three is entitled, "Wars for the West," and traces the period 1816 to 1877. The first four chapters document the westward spread of Yankeedom, Midlanders, Greater Appalachia and the Deep South and the conflicts that occurred in the movements and cultural rub of the westward migrants with each other which often meant conflict not only of manners but verbally and physically bellicose behavior. This also, inevitably, meant the cultural and military conquest as well as genocide perpetrated on the native peoples whose lands were being appropriated.
Part Four, "Culture Wars: 1878 to 2010," begins with a history of the founding of the Far West, a more detailed description of the wars for the West that concluded the previous part. The story begins with mineral booms ends with industrial exploitation of the terrain and its inhabitants, at first the railroads in cahoots with the federal government, offering worthless farmland to settlers, then the mining conglomerates and other big business. The resultant deep resentment of the federal government is now exploited by both the cartels and the politics of the Deep South.
A chapter on "Immigration and Identity" follows, in which the author starts to answer many of the questions the reader may have about if and how these cultural "nations" sustain their original values and acculturate newcomers to them. In the author's own words, "Immigrants didn't alter `American culture,' they altered America's respective regional cultures", actually accentuating the differences among them. Accustomed as we are to looking at US diversity through the lens of hyphenated American groups in terms of their origins, we are not used to looking at their settlement patterns according to region and density in the influences that had on their acculturation in the various American "nations" where they settled. Immigrants did not become "Americans," because, according to the author, "It is fruitless to search for the characteristics of an "American" identity because each nation has its own notion of what being American should mean.
Religion is the topic of the next chapter, "God and Missions," helps to explain the great divide found in today's polarized religious climate, providing historical perspective on the secularization of Puritan communitarian ideals and the fundamentalist orientation of the Dixie bloc, exploding in the culture wars of the 1960's and persisting to this day Its influence on both the domestic and international policies as well as the search for individual identity.
The final two chapters of the book provide copious examples of how the nations and their alliances continue to influence contemporary politics, foreign policy, and the endless propensity to go to war. The epilogue discusses possibilities for the future or non-future of the union. This wrap-up is persuasive about how the influence of the archetypal cultures that shaped the earliest nations of America continues within and beyond the borders of the contemporary United States.
Frankly, I could not lay the book down, not only because I'm somewhat of a history buff, a discipline of which I find all too rarely utilized in intercultural work, but because it literally made me reflect on who I am, adding a dimension unfamiliar to the sense of diversity that I have lived out to this point. History can both explain how we got to where we are and substantiate who we are. US Americans often seem to be engaged in a search for self-esteem in order to build an identity frustrated by the very individualistic denial of the substance of diverse identities. In other words, "identity crisis" describes a vicious cultural circle. We wonder how neighbors and even family members can become so different from each other, trying to avoid stereotypes while experiencing rock solid differing perspectives, beliefs and values.
American Nations provides a perspective that led me to hear me repeatedly saying to myself, "Yes, of course! That's it. That's why." It helped me understand how and when I connected to and disconnected from others in the US context. We live and work in a time when cultural diversity has been promoted to the point where its significance is called into question on both practical and moral grounds, and in particular where the influence of culture is pooh-poohed despite clearly identifiable strains of cultural discourse in the pooh-poohers. There are many ways of picturing US demographics, e.g., urban and rural, red and blue States, diversity of ethnic origins, etc. Woodard's perspective helps us bring a lot of these together and helps us make better sense of them.
86 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing context for contemporary America,
You think the great fissures in American society are something new? Hardly. Far from being "one nation indivisible," America, from the very start, has been a collection of fragments, always at tension, and only rarely cohesive. In this comprehensive, compelling, and cogent work, Colin Woodard explains the origins of what divides us. Highly recommended for anyone interested in American history, sociology, politics - really, if you've the slightest interest in how we got to where we are today, read this book.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but the Book Degenerates as it Progresses Through History,
This book covers the historical settlement of North America quite well. Many questions I had about the early colonial period were answered. Regional divisions are quite evident to folks with a set of eyes and any sense in their brain, yet US history books seem to claim a united 13 colonies devolved into two halves - a north and a south (simply over slavery), expanded into the wild west in the 1800s, and somehow became further divided into schisms in modern times. The history presented in the book is easy to read and ties everything together.
In summary this is what the book says: New Englanders and later Great Lake people were Anglo Saxon Protestant utopians, mostly of the Puritan persuasion, who though meddling in everyone else's affairs, mean well and have always valued education as a sign of status. New Netherland is basically greater New York City, which due to its size, and profit-first mindset, gave it a unique immigrant identity, largely of Dutch-reform Calvinists at first, and just about every group imaginable thereafter. Their money-first mentality also fueled the American end of the slave trade, as many were shipped to NYC and even stayed there on the many farms in the area. Midlanders are a heterogeneous blend of people Quakers liked - the "default" American. Appalachians were a rare group that clashed with tolerant Quakers of Philadelphia, and fled to the hills before spreading from coast to coast as rugged pioneer people. Tidewater cavaliers were the first American aristocracy, based in disinherited Normans scions from the old country, and produced the great founders like Washington and Jefferson. The book says were slave owners but genuinely better people (in the author's mind perhaps) than their Deep Southern Norman cousins that at least valued education in their slave-based agrarian lifestyle. Deep Southerners are described as the bane of America pretty much. Hardcore slave owners that defended their "rights" to treat people as owned livestock, and somehow managed to fend off numerous rebellions in spite of being a minority in the region they ruled over. They liked to dance in balls and sit on their rockers drinking tea while watching their "property" sweat it out in the field, and carried the same mentality to their Bible Belt conservative politics of today.
Other areas are described, though not really part of the original British colonies. New France is really the first serious colonization project of Northwest Europeans in North America after Columbus. It is said to be pretty much the same as today's Quebec, yet somehow Acadians found their way down to Louisiana in some unusual satellite colony that largely absorbed into the Deep South after the Louisiana Purchase. The Left Coast was settled by Puritan Yankees via boat, with only San Francisco area keeping some names from earlier Spanish "Indian conversion" missions and a few architectural motifs. They didn't have much time before some Appalachian ruffians of other sorts came over during the Gold Rush. The Wild West was really land no individual farmer could tame, and needed great colonization efforts by mining and railroad corporations. I guess the Mormons were a colonization corporation too. El Norte was the first European settlement of North America after Columbus. They settled the Gulf and the rugged deserts along the Rio Grande and up to Pueblo, Colorado. They were largely isolated from the core of Aztec-Spaniard Mexico City, and were a rugged rural people who brought us the cowboy culture (BTW Young Guns is a decent movie depicting how "frontier hillbilly" Appalachian and El Norte culture merged in New Mexico).
The area covered is pretty extensive, but some areas are forgotten or merged with areas they have little in common with. One notable example - that he does mention to his defense - is the Mormon settlement of Utah.
Mormons were as New Englander as they come, but allegations of sorcery and witchcraft (remember Salem?) led them to flee to the Cleveland area of Ohio. Persecution there was more based in financial failings of Joseph Smith's bank in a Jacksonian time dominated by Appalachian Borderlanders. (Jackson himself had a history with banks - namely fighting off big European ones.) Anyway next stop was the area bordering Indian Territory in present-day Independence, Missouri. Actually this area was settled simultaneously with Kirtland, Ohio, but Joseph Smith did not have the main group there. Joseph Smith marched "Zion's Camp" over there when the Appalachian-based frontiersmen there took offense to their meddling "Yankee" and utopian ways. (Mormons claimed it was the site of New Jerusalem, a city for the new Millennium, which obviously chaffed against the other settlers). After a jail stay in "Liberty" of all cities, Smith took his fledgling faith to Illinois to establish a city then on par with Chicago. Within half a decade it was over 12K and flourishing. The city was in the buffer zone between Yankeedom and Appalachia, called Midlander in the book. Again trouble arose - this time with the issue of church vs. state and freedom of the press. When Joseph Smith had an anti-Mormon press in town torn down as a "nuisance", this led to more mobs of haters and finally Smith's execution in jail from a face-painted mob. While Yankee in origin, Smith and his associates had veered quite a bit from the increasingly secular and civil liberty-loving mindset of the Northern states.
While all this was going on in America, converts were being drawn in from around the country. Mormonism was a heavily-proselyting faith that swole in numbers in the first few decades from the original six members in New York. One of my ancestors came to Nauvoo from the East Tennessee Smokey Mountains of all places. (another ancestor of mine being Brigham Young himself). England was the first European country to be heavily tracted, with the first ward in Europe in Preston. Many Englanders and British sailed to "Zion" in the 1830s and 40s before the fall of Nauvoo, so the English ancestry of many Utahns cited in the book was not colonial or New Englander - it was an entirely new batch of Victorian "Brits" (whom Charles Dickens once positively noted at the port before as they were leaving for America.) These people, along with converted people across the country, joined the wagon trains westward for one of the first massive migrations across America in 1847. While they stopped near present-day Omaha along the way, the final destination was a valley that represents a 180-degree rotation of the ancient Holy Land, with a fresh-water "Sea of Galilee" (Utah Lake) pouring upwards into a salty "dead sea" (Great Salt Lake). I think Brigham Young recognized these features (the river was even named Jordan), along with the desert climate of the valley and said "This is the right place". The rest is Utah history as we know it, and that of those "strange polygamous Mormons".
But it doesn't stop at Utah. The Mormon Battalion was an advance scouting group that helped map out the Southwest during the Mexican War. They also helped found San Diego and some members were in California during the first gold discovery. They have a substantial influence in California's, Idaho's, Nevada's, and Arizona's history. Deseret was originally proposed to be a megastate encompassing all of the Mormon colonies - including San Bernaardino, CA, Las Vegas, Mesa, AZ, western Idaho, and the Wasatch Front. This demand and polygamy are two main reasons why it took so long for them to obtain statehood (over 40 years).
In spite of the Utah War, rejected state demands, church/state issues, and the polygamy imprisonments, they still cooperated with the federal government and corporations in creating the great railroads that spanned the country, and mining the Rocky Mountains. In this way they did fit into the Far West. They also surprisingly have influence in outlaw legend with Butch Cassidy, and the high stakes world of modern corporate Vegas with Howard Hughes' "Mormon Mafia". Mormon culture has always been unique from Yankeedom, the left coast and the old west, even though it has pieces in common with all these. I think the biggest points of conflict have been church and state, living revelation, polygamy (which no other American nation liked) and what many see as a "forbidden" mixture of science and theology/religion. Just look at the recent snubbings by the Left Coast Pac-12 conference of the Mormon BYU. They would rather take BYU's secularized older sister, the University of Deseret...I mean Utah instead (the school that the previous two Mormon prophets attended). Both however were founded by Brigham Young for basically the same reason - educate "the Saints" while maintaining the Latter Day Saint faith.
So yeah they have Yankee focus on education and social betterment, an almost Appalachian pioneer mindset of do it yourself (minus the moonshine), and a corporate Far West identity. But the restoration of ancient cultures, namely the Anglo Saxon tribe hierarchy coupled with Biblical to ancient Israel's top-down government that Moses set up (Stakes and wards), a restoration of ancient temple worship (which Templars tried but couldn't get all the pieces together), and the fact that Salt Lake City and Provo are Meccas of Mormon converts worldwide justifies a unique cultural grouping. Even non-Mormons in heavily Mormon states like Nevada, Arizona and Idaho inherit some of the Mormon influences like the wide street grid, and Mormons are senators, governors and congresspeople in those states. There are anti-Mormons in these states, but same goes for the epicenter of Salt Lake City, which is only like 40% Mormon. It could be argued anti-Mormonism and Jack-Mormonism is a culture in and of itself, and even part of the greater Mormon culture (yin and yang). It has followed the culture wherever it went, yet somehow manages to coexist. Some like the friendly and safe Mormon atmosphere while paradoxically complaining about their strict moral laws and government influence. That's enough about the Mormon culture. (While not a Mormon historian, I know a bit about its history just growing up in the faith.) Now on to other parts of the book.
The author also leaves out the substantial French influence in the settlement of Mississippi River and Great Lake cities like St. Louis, Detroit, and Chicago. Why are there still places and universities in those cities named after French people like Marquette, Champaign, LaSalle or DePaul? This would have been a good tie-in between the contrasting Cajun culture and the Quebecois culture. The Cajun settlement was not really as isolated as the book claims. The French followed a settlement path down the St. Lawrence into the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi. Also Mobile and Biloxi are equally French in their origins as cities as New Orleans and Baton Rouge are. The reality is that the American Revolution inspired the French Revolution, which weakened a vast colonization of the American interior. Before that there was heavy colonization. It was not neglected territory as much as it was territory that became an excessive expense with war costs and management changes. This was purchased in the "Louisiana Purchase". With the inclusion of "El Norte" as a significant Catholic/Romance culture in North America, in spite of the fact that states like Arizona, Southern California and New Mexico are heavily anglicized today, why leave out the interior culture influence of the fur traders and settlers of the Louisiana Purchase portion of the United States?
The deep south characterization is, as other reviewers said, biased. I liked the first two thirds, up to the turn of the 20th century, but the last third seems to follow the liberal/Yankee line of "all southerners are backwards people clinging on to superstitions and social casting of feudal times, ruled by 'massas' in white hats and bow-ties". But somehow the fact that the South has been a center for technological development since New Deal and World War 2 gets omitted. Those Tennessee "hillbillies" have Oak Ridge, the "cotton pickers" in Northern Alabama have Redstone Arsenal, Cummings Research Park and Marshall Space Flight Center, the "crackers" on the Central Florida coast have Cape Canaveral, the "cowboys" of Houston have NASA command center, the "tarheels" in North Carolina have Research Triangle Park, and greater Atlanta is home to many high tech industries. The "uneducated" south is also responsible for some of the first and highest-caliber public universities in the country - Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Georgia Tech, as well as group of prestigious "southern ivy" or "magnolia" group including private schools like Rice, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Southern Methodist, Tulane, Duke, Miami and Emory.
32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Divisions: Moving beyond red states and blue states,
There are eleven nations in the United States. The U.S. was first settled from the south, El Norte, 1595. Spain was then the superpower. In 1493 it had ownership of virtually all of the Western Hemisphere. The plan was to assimilate Native Americans into Spanish culture. Mestizos, mixed Indian and Spanish individuals, became a majority. Between 1598 and 1794 the Spanish established many missions, about seventy-three, in New Mexico, Texas, Alta California, and Arizona. The system for religious conversion had flaws. In the civilian sector there were self-perpetuating oligarchies. (Local boss George Parr helped elect Lyndon Johnson.) Franciscans introduced the cowboy culture to California and Texas. The founding and progress of New France was assisted by Indian endeavors. Louis XIV sent thousands of settlers to New France. French commoners exhibited independence. Many became traders. The Tidewater was founded by private investors. Survival in Jamestown was iffy. Settlers were incompetent. Men of the Virginia Co. expected to put the Indians to work. Eventually Indian lands were cleared to grow tobacco. Mass exodus from the English Civil War, 1640, formed the Tidewater aristocracy. Indentured servants performed the plantation labor. By the 17009's the Cavaliers made the Tidewater a country gentleman's utopia. There were no cities, no public schools. Power became hereditary. There was a haughtly sense of personal honor. Tidewater gentry embraced classical republicanism. Only a handful of people had full privileges.
The Pilgrims and Puritans insisted upon religious conformity. The Yankee settlers came to America as families. Yankeedom's settlers intended to rule themselves. They were educated. New England had few epidemic diseases. The people were hostile to aristocratic and royal prerogatives. Townspeople were to work together for the common good. Congregations were self-governing. Direct democracy, town meetings, determined town expenditures. (Everyone is to participate and to manipulate the political process for private gain is considered despicable.) Basic education was universal. New Netherlands was founded in 1624. The Dutch supported free inquiry, a free press. The people had religious tolerance and economic freedom. Manor lords or patroons were granted county-sized parcels of land. Deep South was founded not by settlers from Europe but from the Barbados. The Barbados was notorious for its inhumanity. There were radical disparities of wealth. The Barbadian culture spawned Charleston and the Deep South. Deep Southern society was militarized, caste-structured, and differential to authority. Greater Appalachia was the last of the nations to be founded in the colonial period. (The Midlands was also founded in the colonial period, notably standing for multiculturalism and religious toleration.) The people of Greater Appachia came from the border regions of Scotland, Ireland, and England. They arrived in five groups between 1717 and 1776. They embraced a woodland subsistence economy. They moved upcountry, specializing in blood feuds. The highlands of South Carolina and Georgia began to resemble the lawless frontiers of Scotland. The inhabitants formed vigilante gangs.
The Revolutionary War, the American rebellion, was caused by the Seven Years War. Yankeedom rebelled first. The Articles of Confederation passed in 1781. Regional differences remained. The notion of democracy was becoming a political force. Appachia was largely excluded from political discussion. Subsequently the Western Reserve and Muskingdom Valley in Ohio were settled by Yankees. New England culture was consciously extended. Cultural infrastructure was laid down in the founding of colleges, Marietta, Oberlin, Case Western Reserve, Beloit, Olivet, Ripon, Carleton, Grinnell, and Illinois College, (Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois). Andrew Jackson was the first Appalachian president. He promoted the Indian Removal Act. Prior to the Civil War the Deep South began to assert pride of color and caste. The Deep South was hemmed in by climate and ecology. El Norte leaders looked to the U.S. because it was cut off from Mexico city. The Gadsen Purchase of 1848 separated El Norte between two countries. The Left Coast's early colonizers were Yankees. Yankees, though, became outnumbered by Borderlanders. California's north-south split was apparent by 1845. The Gold Rush set off a migration.
The Civil War was a conflict between two coalitions. After the attack on Ft. Sumter the Deep South lost Midland support. The Tidewater was forced into the orbit of the Deep South. Borderlanders were on both sides. The Far West was the last nation to be colonized because it was inhospitable to settlers. Beginning at the 98th Meridian it averages only twenty inches of rain per year. The High Plains and Western deserts were frightening. Railroad companies were agents of colonization. Sometimes they made false claims about the agricultural suitability of the land. Government land grants were ill-conceived. The Far West caused the collapse of frontier culture. Internally there was corporate control over Far West politics and society. People of the Far West have come to resent corporations and the federal government.
Pre-existing regional nations have not been displaced by immigration. The melting pot idea is of Yankee origin, the Henry Ford English School, for example. After the Civil War the Lost Cause ideology created a southern alliance. Appalachia, the Tidewater, and the Deep South organized against Reconstruction. Southern clergy helped foster a new civil religion. The book presents a new thesis, (at least it is one I haven't encountered), to explain cultural and political disunity in this country. The case is made by means of copious illustrations of the points raised tending to compel the reader to agree with the author. The book is simultaneously ambitious, interesting, and well-conceived.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars intriguing historical and sociological thesis might explain a lot,
This review is from: American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (Paperback)
Pursues for this generation the same themes as "Albion's Seed" did for the last ...although with considerably different details. Where "Albion's Seed" was largely about the pre-revolutionary period, a much longer span of years including the Civil War era as well as the present day is analyzed here. A book not of new research through primary sources, but rather of synthesis of other carefully chosen works of history around a theme few even imagined and almost none expressed quite this way. Specifically, the themes here are that the several cultures within the U.S. are more different from each other than quite a few nation-states, and that although the "Borderlanders" were a majority of the population, they were egregiously excluded from political power until the time of Andrew Jackson, and are still often thought of derogatorily.
He tries pretty hard -and fairly successfully- to be even-handed. Nevertheless I managed to form the impression his personal tendencies were toward progressive causes and away from the Deep South. And he does say explicitly at one point "Since 1877 the driving force of American politics hasn't primarily been a class struggle or tension between agrarian and commercial interests, or even between competing partisan ideologies, although each has played a role. Ultimately the determinative political struggle has been a clash between shifting coalitions of ethnoregional nations, one invariably headed by the Deep South, the other by Yankeedom."
Among other things, this history explains why Ohio is such an important swing state in presidential elections (different land ownership resulted in _three_ different "nations" settling inside a single state ...and in dis-contiguous areas). Although he doesn't explicitly cover it at all, it seemed clear to me from reading that both a large and growing population and economic might are keys to a culture being influential. He very briefly covers the apparently uncontroversial historical maxim that the original settling (or resettling) of an area often determines its culture for hundreds of years, even after both the original people and the original economy have largely vanished.
Since there are currently very few pursuing this unfamiliar line of historical inquiry, he perforce paints with quite a broad brush. As a result, some of his details feel "half-baked", and once in a while at the edges there's a whopper that has trouble standing up to a few moments deep thought.
U.S. history has become mostly New England history (can you imagine relating the mythology of the U.S. without mentioning Plymouth Rock?). What happened to all the other colonies, including the older one at Jamestown? He explains how the Tidewater culture centered on Virginia was very large and enormously influential through the early decades of the union, but ultimately was hemmed in by geography and ecology and shrank to not a whole lot more than an appendage to the Deep South. He explains how the original Georgia colony was overwhelmed by the economy of the Deep South (which was founded by immigrants from Barbados rather than from Europe) and disappeared into it. And he very briefly explains that the Florida explorations and colonies were originally tied to the Spanish empire and so largely lost to the U.S.
He makes a convincing case that the odds were heavily stacked _against_ the very dissimilar "New England", "New Netherland", "Tidewater", and "Deep South" colonies allying to fight for independence and federate under the constitution; splintering of the union was a very real threat for much of the next century.
He shows how the settling of the coastal areas of the west coast by immigrants who came by ship (many from New England) produced a culture quite different from the more interior areas of those same states that were settled by different immigrants who came overland. Genesis of "The Left Coast" cultural nation is one of the sketchiest parts of his book, and as one who lived in California for quite a while, I found it maddeningly oversimplified. Still, he's put forward a seemingly reasonable novel point of view that brings order to a lot of loose ends.
He opines that although the cultures in the U.S. had to fit reasonably well into their local ecologies, most of them were not really determined by it. (I sometimes felt he actually underplayed some obvious ecological constraints.) The one glaring exception to U.S. cultures not being determined by ecology is the "Far West", whose dryness and vastness completely stymied all the cultures that attempted to expand into it. It ultimately was settled only by following the lead of large corporatist frameworks that could organize thousands of people and support them with pinpoint application of large amounts of capital, and is still dependent on the largesse of the federal government.
He's young (not long out of grad school) and he makes his living writing books and articles, rather than as an academic historian, so he has a very fresh approach to everything. For example he explains that in the backcountry folks used "whiskey" as currency (coins were almost completely absent); the tax that prompted the "Whiskey Rebellion" was essentially a blow by the coastal elites against backcountry currency! He explicitly covers every bit of background, not assuming anything at all, so readers never feel like "something's missing". He unabashedly take firm sides on current controveries, for example stating the Civil War was clearly about slavery rather than states' rights. And he's not constrained by either the "conventional wisdom" or the need to publish only defensible interpretations. Without any qualification he refers to the "Far West" as an "internal colony". Often where an academician would remain silent in the face of ambiguous or conflicting primary sources, he'll say frankly what he reads "between the lines". For example he plainly states that the scheme of Robert Morris, Alexander Hamilton, and others after the revolution to redeem federal debt certificates at full face value really was an outrageous and corrupt scheme, with much in common with the financial meltdown of 2008. He even opines (with some supporting evidence) that the "Founding Fathers" were slanted toward carefully circumscribed democracy and economic exploitation by elites.
The emphasis here is on empirical description of the U.S., not on theory or polemics. There's almost nothing allowing comparison to other countries. So we're left with the vague notion the countries of North America are "atypical", but without any specifics or quantification or context. His speculations about possible future trends for the North American countries are restricted to a few pages in the last chapter and the Epilogue. Several things he says implicitly lead to the conclusion that the U.S. would have been better off if the South had been allowed to leave the Union quietly without a Civil War. On the other hand he explicitly states -using Canada as his example- that even without the South, encompassing several very different cultures would still be problematic, and the Union might ultimately shrink back in power and authority to little more than a federation of semi-independent states like the original confederation of 1781.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most interesting read in years,
I could reiterate much of what others have written, but will merely say that:
#1 with a Master's degree in US History and as an avid genealogist, I was shocked but very pleasantly surprised to learn something new and exciting on virtually every page of this book. Well - the first 2/3 of it or so; the last part becomes gradually too politically biased for my taste.
Comment #2 is that this is a fascinating book that explains so much about our country; I found it very hard to put down.
163 of 210 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How many sub-nations compose the USA?,
Many people think of the United States as a nation with two regional or sub-national entities --- the North and the South. The two sub-nations have identifiable differences in outlook. The South, a traditionally rural and agricultural region, has always been perceived to have a relatively conservative and individualistic outlook, oriented toward small government and states rights. The North, dominated by urbanized commercial centers, has always been relatively more aligned with big government agendas, a natural characteristic of densely populated areas where most people's livelihoods are derived from industry and commerce.
The geographical, political, and cultural divides between the North and South have been fairly well defined by the "Mason-Dixon Line" --- approximately the line of the Ohio and Potomac Rivers . Indeed states like Kentucky and Maryland are called "Border States" as if they were on an international frontier. And of course a military frontier DID materialize between the North and South when the Southern sub-nation attempted to assert its sovereignty during the Civil War.
This great divide between the Northern and Southern sub-nations continues to this day. I've read commentaries from foreigners who explain the politics of the United States as consisting of a struggle for dominance between the Northern and Southern sub-nations. We Americans refer to this as the "Red State / Blue State" divide. So the idea of the USA consisting of two sub-nations is well established.
The question this book addresses is whether it makes sense to subdivide the United States into MORE THAN TWO subnational entities. Others have asked this question before. Joel Garreau wrote about it in 1981 in his book THE NINE NATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA. I read NINE NATIONS then and concluded that it was partially valid in an economic sense, i.e. relatively more Westerners earn their livelihoods from mining, relatively more people on the Great Plains earn their living from growing wheat and corn and livestock, and relatively more Northerners earn their living from Industry. So from that perspective there are arguably nine economic nations in North America. But Garreau did not convince me that there are more than two political sub-nations inside the USA.
I have to say that this book doesn't convince me either. The historical context presented in the book seems to me to be stretched a bit, for example in portraying the Civil War as alliances between federations of many submerged "nations" instead of just being a war between the USA and CSA. Woodard writes:
While Midlanders [people living in the "Lower North" States of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois] voted with their Yankee neighbors, they had no desire to be governed by them. Faced with the possibility of a national dissolution, most Midland political and opinion leaders hoped to join the Appalachian-controlled states to create a Central Confederacy stretching from New Jersey to Arkansas. The proposed nation would serve as a neutral buffer area between Yankeedom and the Deep South, preventing the antagonists from going to war with each other.
I think it's safe to say that the author's assertion that "most" Midland political and opinion leaders favored forming a Central Confederacy is an overstatement. I've studied this subject intensively and don't know of ANY "Midland political and opinion leaders" of any substance who hoped to form a Central Confederacy. SOME small-town newspaper editors talked about it, and A FEW small-time "Copperhead" conspirators may have favored the concept as a means of dividing and weakening the Union's war effort against the Confederacy. But the idea was not promoted by any Governors, Congressmen, or Senators that I know of. Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, the two most prominent "Midlanders" of the Civil War era, never discussed it. Nor did anybody of substance in the "Upper South" states on the southern bank of the Ohio River. The question came down to, "Who do we fight for, the Union or Confederacy?" There wasn't any realistic prospect of carving out alternative third-party nations.
There are MANY other gross over-simplifications that lead me to believe that the author's arguments postulating more than two sub-nations inside the USA are forced. The central premise of the book does NOT ring true:
America's most essential and abiding divisions are not between red states and blue states, conservatives and liberals, capital and labor, blacks and whites, the faithful and the secular. Rather, our divisions stem from this fact: the United States is a federation comprised of the whole or part of eleven regional nations, some of which truly do not see eye to eye with one another.
Were that premise true, political campaigns would be tailored along subnational lines with candidates appealing to quasi-nationalistic "(Yankee, Southern, Midwestern, Western) Pride." In truth political campaigns ARE tailored along conservative/liberal, labor/capital, black/white (not so much anymore, fortunately), and faithful/secular. These traditional demographic categories trump subnational issues within the United States. For example, a political party will appeal to the ECONOMIC interests of factory workers the same in Michigan, Alabama, and California, but will not appeal to their interests as separate nationalities. The ONLY political campaign that was ever organized along subnationalistic lines was that of 1860 that led directly to Civil War when the South attempted to formally assert a separate nationality. All modern political discussions in the United States have been about economics and foreign policy, and nothing to do with nationalistic ambitions of our regions. On that basis I would say the fundamental premise of the book is overstated.
In fact the author takes the theory of regional differences to extremes by portraying a Deep South populated by Neanderthals with Bibles while the author's Northeastern homeland is said to be inhabited by noble Yankees desiring to "civilize the world." The other theoretical "American nations" are placed in a kind of historical purgatory between these extremes.
Also, in response to comments that came after my review, let me add that the "nations" that the author postulates have highly unconventional boundaries.
1. The "nation" the author calls "Greater Appalachia" is stretched to include such unlikely places such as Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; and Dallas, Texas. Do any of these places really have a "nationality" bond with a real Appalachian town, like Charleston, West Virginia? I know the author's argument is that the FIRST WHITE settlers into these places MAY have been mountain men. But a LOT has happened in Columbus and Indy and Dallas since the first hillbilly walked into town 200 years ago, if indeed any did. In truth the first white settlers in the American Midwest were not Appalachian hillbillies but French Canadians. And before that these places were Indian villages. So why aren't the French or Indians considered to be the dominant "nation" if the author's thesis of "first settlement" priority is valid? This is one example of many where the author's assumptions of "nationality" are arbitrary.
2. The author also postulates that the southern parts of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba are part of the same nation as the American Midlands. This is highly contrary to conventional wisdom that Canada is a distinct nationality from the USA in regards to government, politics, dialect, ethnicity, and settlement. The author gives a rationale for why his concept is correct, but his logic is unconventional.
3. Also, based on the map of the "nations" the author doesn't appear to know that French Canada extends several hundred miles across Northern Ontario (Franco Ontario) and does not stop at the Ontario border as the author's "nationality" map shows. Perhaps even many Canadians aren't aware of the dominance of French in the northern belt across Ontario, but still if you're going to write as an authority on North American nationalities you should know where the boundaries are. In the author's map French-Canadian towns like Kapuskasing, Ontario are lumped into the same Midlands "nation" as Philadelphia, PA. For that matter so is Amarillo, Texas. The author includes Amarillo, Philly, and part of French Canada in the same "Midlands" nation but places Amarillo and Dallas in different nations!
I also feel compelled to point out one of many instances in which the author attempts to correlate political action with what he theorizes are regional "nationality" characteristics:
U.S. foreign policy has shown a clear national pattern for the past two centuries. Since 1812, the anti-interventionist, anti-imperial Yankees have squared off against the bellicose, unilateralist hawks in the Deep South and Tidewater.
It is worth nothing that:
Alfred Thayer Mahan, the father of the modern American Navy as an instrument of maintaining an American Empire and waging offensive wars in Europe and Asia, was a New Yorker. President Grover Cleveland of New York and Secretary of State Richard Olney of Massachusetts pushed us to the brink of war in the 1890s over a "Monroe Doctrine" issue regarding British encroachment in Venezuela. President William McKinley of Ohio took us into the Spanish-American War in 1898. President Teddy Roosevelt of New York ordered the U.S. Navy to blockade Panama when he wanted to separate it from Colombia in order to build the Panama Canal.
The author tells us that President Woodrow Wilson, who he characterizes as a "Southern" President (despite Wilson serving as Governor of New Jersey), took us to war with Germany in 1917 because Southerners allegedly thought that "God had endorsed the war." He doesn't mention that we went to war because the Germans killed American passengers in sinking the Lusitania and asked Mexico to invade the USA as their ally.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt of New York orchestrated our entry into WWII, President John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts committed us to South Vietnam, and Ronald Reagan orchestrated the brinkmanship that won the Cold War.
None of these Presidents who took us to war were "bellicose, unilateralist hawks in the Deep South and Tidewater." More to the point, the entire nation was involved in declaring and fighting these wars. They were not orchestrated by belligerent "subnations" out on a lark for military adventures. When we finally did elect a "Deep South" President we got Jimmy Carter, the antithesis of the author's stereotype of the ignorant, chauvinistic, warmongering Southerner.
There are many other unconventional assumptions in the author's definition of "nations" both in terms of boundaries and historical interpretations. The readers best be their own judge of whether the author's unconventional assumptions trump the conventional wisdom. However, the book is definitely thought-provoking. I'd encourage readers to enjoy it and form their own opinions, while understanding that the author is liberally interpreting American history in order to align it with his thesis. With that caveat in mind, I believe everyone with a professional or casual interest in American history will enjoy the read. I certainly did.
The value the book really had for me was in reminding me of what a stupendous accomplishment our ancestors achieved of creating ONE nation across the heart of North America. When we finally did fight the Civil War, the nationalism of the original Union had been matured sufficiently to maintain the nation as one. Many of our leaders from Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Jackson, to Lincoln, and on down to modern times have worked relentlessly to insure that we will remain one nation. Reading Woodard's book made me appreciate that effort. And, although Woodard arguably overstates the impact of regional differences in our history, he does open a window on an interesting topic that is worthy of a fresh discussion.
Btw. toward the end of this book Woodard digresses into politics. He states his view that the United States may unravel into separate sovereignties along his theoretical eleven nationality lines because he alleges that most of the country feels endangered by Southern Whites who he says are hell-bent on imposing "the Baptist equivalent of Sharia law on everyone else." Presumably the rest of the country will opt out of the United States before being forcibly dunked into the figurative baptismal pool by Woodard's Southern boogeymen.
I just read Conservative activist Pat Buchanan's book SUICIDE OF A SUPERPOWER: WILL AMERICAN SURVIVE TO 2025? Buchanan thinks we're going to disintegrate for the opposite reason --- because we don't have ENOUGH White people with religious spirit left to hold the country together!
Could it be that BOTH sides are wrong? Perhaps we should all just chill out and be what we're supposed to be --- a United States of tolerant Americans who respect our fellow countrymen regardless of their religious or political party affiliations or what part of the country they happen to live in.
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American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard (Paperback - September 25, 2012)