Recommended by Daniel Walton

American Nations is an attempt to categorise and explain contemporary and historical trends in American and Canadian political thought by dividing each country into a set of contiguous regions, defined by the ethnic groups who historically founded each area. The book delves into the history of each region, as well as the historical conflicts between the regions, most notably through a compelling representation of the Civil War.

The idea of distinct US regions acting as political blocs has indeed been fairly correct by historical standards. On the issue of slavery, for example, the abolitionist “Yankeedom” area was in stark opposition to the aristocratic, oligarchical “Deep South”. The trend was indeed evident in county-by-county election maps as well, in particular as white-working class northerners backed Obama by hefty margins in “Yankee” areas like Wisconsin and Michigan, whilst rejecting him in the Deep South.

However, the rise of Donald Trump has in many ways discredited the above way of thinking, as America’s cultural, political and economic divide has become stratified among educational and urban-rural lines (interestingly, as this trend becomes apparent, the book’s author has continued to double down and insist he’s correct). The state of Georgia, for example, is considered “Deep South”, however middle-class suburbanites and urban progressives in Atlanta contributed mightily to Joe Biden’s victory in the state, as well as the election of two Democratic senators.

Likewise, the concept of “The Midlands” is muddied and inconsistent. Despite their shared Germanic origins, there is little likelihood the inhabitants of Philadelphia feel much connection with the rural towns of Kansas and Oklahoma, as the above map implies. Perhaps the only contiguous region in modern-day society that makes sense is “The Left Coast”. Notorious for being the birthplace and epicentre of environmentalism, LGBT rights and modern progressivism, the coastal regions of California, Oregon and Washington are still in many ways united in their forward-thinking ideals.

Full Book Details
American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America
Colin Woodard
Viking
ISBN-13: 9780670022960

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