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

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Congress (Failure, Reform), Culture, Research, Democracy, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), History
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Colin Woodard

5.0 out of 5 stars Nine Nations Was a Snap-Shot — This Is Deep History & Ends Thoughtfully, February 16, 2014

I bought this book prepared to dislike it, having given a rave review to Joel Garreau's The Nine Nations of North America. Let me settle that one immediately. I loved this book. As the author himself points out early on, Garreau's book was a snap-shot, this book is a deep history. I was also quite taken, at the end of the book, with the author's acknowledgements that begin with Garreau and go on to others such as Wilbur Zelinsky's The Cultural Geography of The United States: A Revised Edition and Raymond Gastil's Cultural regions of the United States.

Although I would have liked some illustrations and maps in relation to each section of the book — there is only one map for the entire book — I found the book riveting, and would like to see it become a standard text for multi-disciplinary education across history, political science, sociology, and cultural studies.

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Review (Guest): American Nations – A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

4 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Civil Society, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Economics, Education (General), Geography & Mapping, History, Insurgency & Revolution, Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Secession & Nullification, Threats (Emerging & Perennial)
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Colin Woodard

Phi Beta Iota:  Elevated to four stars on recommendation of Chuck Spinney.  Synopsis of book in article for:  A Geography Lesson for the Tea Party

3.0 out of 5 stars How many sub-nations compose the USA?,October 10, 2011

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.

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