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Actually, the book's REAL title is American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard (Penguin Books, 2011).This review demonstrates that I've been doing most of my writing for Top Comments recently, since it was motivated by a comment thread started by cuphalffull's recommendation of the book in DrJohnB's diary on the roots of the polarization we see in today's politics. No, I'm nowhere in the thread, because I remembered that I had read the book and there was something I found hinky about it, but I figured that the people recommending the book meant that maybe I should reconsider it. I've reread it, and it IS an interesting read, but it's more solid in some parts than it is in others, and it sort of loses its way between the Revolution and today, although the conclusion is provocative. The problem is akin to the Greek myth about Procrustes' bed.

So what this is is a case study of how a professional historian looks at a history book written by a, well, journalist. It's the stuff you have to look out for when you're reading material by the Walter Isaacsons and the John Mechems of the world.

The premise of the book is that the roots of partisanship in American politics -- in fact, the origins of American political culture -- lie in the patterns of settlement of North America in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, and the movement west by the descendents of the original settlers and by immigrants during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It's a good premise and Woodard provides it with a good explanatory matrix. The sociologists who study immigration have observed that people tend to move west along latitudinal lines, thus migrants west from Massachusetts would end up in Michigan and Wisconsin while migrants from Georgia would end up in Arkansas or Texas. Here are the eleven regions in order of settlement:

1. First Nations (now the Canadian province of Nunavut)
2. El Norte (the Spanish settlement of Northern Mexico and what's now New Mexico starting in the 1560s)
3. New France (the watershed of the St. Lawrence River, 1612)
4. Tidewater (Jamestown, 1607)
5. Yankeedom (Plymouth, 1620)
6. New Netherland (1626)
7. The Deep South (The Carolinas, colonies of the sugar planters of Barbados, c 1670)
8. The Midlands (William Penn, 1681)
9. Greater Appalachia (starting in 1718)
10. The Left Coast (starting in the 1830s, accelerating after 1848)
11. The Far West (after the Civil War)

Here they are mapped out:

In the first part of the book, Woodard maps out the early settlement of North America by European colonizers in pretty much chronological order before 1769. He sets out the nine nations well, with their cultural traits and their contributions to what would become three new nations (his discussion of how the northern provinces of Mexico are not very much like Mexico further south is very good), and he does an excellent job in explaining what the bloodless coup Glorious Revolution of 1688 meant to the British colonies, which is something our textbooks don't do a good job with. Naturally, there are no Indians (except, of course, Pocahontas and Squanto) in this section but that has stopped surprising me.

You wouldn't think that there was a problem with his discussion of these colonies until you go to the end of the book, to his "Acknowledgement and Suggested Reading" section. He begins that section with a fairly long tribute to another wonderful book, David Hackett Fischer's magisterial treatment of English settlement in North America, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (1989). That's well and good, because Fischer really details the folkways of the four major settlements of British North America extensively. These four major settlements were:

   
    Puritans from the East of England to Massachusetts, 1629-1640 (Yankeedom)
    “Royalists” from the south of England to Virginia and the Lower South 1642 –1675 (Tidewater, Deep South [although oversimplified])
    Quakers from North Midlands/Wales to Delaware Valley 1675-1725 (Midlands)
    Borderlands of Britain (Scotland, Northern Ireland) to the backcountry (Greater Appalachia) 1718-1775
No New France, No El Norte, no New Netherlands. Fischer doesn't take settlers from any place but Great Britain into consideration for the great bulk of the book; he doesn't mention any other settlers until he discusses the cultural hegemony of the four regions and finally, on page 839, he admits that Martin Van Buren was descended from Dutch Calvinists and New York wasn't founded by the British. So that's not really where he got the material for the section from.

You see, there IS a book that discusses all the European colonizers of North America, and it's a very good one: Alan Taylor, American Colonies: The Settling of North America (2001). This book covers all the nations Woodard discusses in part I of his book. Woodard refers to Taylor extensively in his footnotes, but not in the Suggested Reading section. I know this because I found something in American Nations that looked very much like my lecture notes, which I've cribbed extensively from Taylor's book, and the footnote led me to Taylor. This makes me wonder what's going on: how much is the first sections going to resemble an abridgment of Taylor's book?

Part II is essential to the book because it explains how Yankeedom and Tidewater understood that they had enough common interests to form a new nation even though the two cultures seemed to have nothing in common, and, yes, Woodard credits an extraordinary book, Rhys Isaac's The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790 (1982), for his explanation (because the revolution in Yankeedom really didn't have to be explained). He also takes a stab at how the various regional cultures collaborated in writing the Constitution, although, as we'll see later, he leaves out the one precipitating event that historians believe necessitated the call for a Constitutional Convention and without which we might not have had the Constitution we have.

It's when we come to the ratifying conventions and the Bill of Rights that we hit choppy water. Woodard provides this explanation for the Bill of Rights:

New Netherlands refused to vote on [the Constitution] at all until Congress agreed to add thirteen amendments modeled on the civil liberties enumerated in the Articles of Capitulation on the Reduction of New Netherland, which the Dutch had brokered before turning the colony over to England in 1664.
You've probably noticed "thirteen." First off, there were twelve amendments sent out to the states, ten of which constitute the Bill of Rights. One of the two that was NOT ratified became the twenty-seventh amendment in 1992, and, since it deals with the timing of salary increases for Congress, I doubt it had anything to do with the civil liberties of the residents of New Netherland. Second, Congress knew it had to come up with a bill of rights because the ratifying convention in Massachusetts refused to act on the Constitution until it was promised that one of the first acts of Congress would BE the Bill of Rights. Third, by the time New York voted on the constitution it had already been ratified by the requisite nine states to constitute a new nation. Where did Woodard get his information from? A book by Russell Shorto that he cites as "Shorto (1983)" only according to the Library of Congress, Shorto didn't publish anything in 1983. If I accept that he means "Shorto (2004)," what I find is confirmation that the document Woodard refers to existed and an acknowledgment that New York was not enthusiastic about the Constitution. Nothing about the document contributing to the Bill of Rights, which was actually based on a document George Mason wrote in early 1776 for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Um, this constitutes making stuff up. Not something a journalist or a historian is supposed to do.

In Part III, Woodard explains how FOUR of the nations (Yankeedom, the Midlands, Greater Appalachia and the Deep South) expanded west (New Netherlands and Tidewater were landlocked.) It's a good explanation: Yankeedom used the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes, while the Midlands and Greater Appalachia used the Ohio River, and this can explain why Cleveland and Cincinnati are politically different and Southeastern Ohio is different from both. But here, the water is even choppier as Woodard explains how the Sedition Act was aimed at Democratic publishers, especially those from Greater Appalachia, and Matthew Lyon, who Woodard describes as D-KY, serves as his poster boy for that. Matthew Lyon may have represented Kentucky in Congress during the Jefferson Administration, but he was arrested for violating the Sedition Act while he represented Vermont. Woodard probably left that out because it didn't work with this statement about New England and the Alien and Sedition Acts:

Yankeedom [by which he means the Federalist Party] defended the acts . . . All citizens had the right to elect their own representatives, the thinking went, but once they did, they owed them their absolute deference -- not just to the laws they passed but to everything they said or did.
Thus, Matthew Lyon, who was reelected while he was in his jail cell in 1798, had to have been reelected by Borderlanders, because if (as actually happened) he was reelected by Yankeedom, there's a problem. We don't find Shays' Rebellion in this book either, as I noted above.

Then there's this. Woodard examines the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the Supreme Court decision in Worcester v Georgia, and explains what happened to the Cherokees, but then produces this sentence:

The Creek and Chicksaw [sic] followed the Cherokees' Trail of Tears a few years later, when Alabama and Mississippi annexed their territories.
Um, REALLY no, as I discussed in my diary about the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Admittedly, the Chickasaw, a prosperous slave-owning nation, left in 1837, when the Cherokees did, only not at bayonet-point, and their migration continued until 1850. The Creeks had it even worse, as their forced migration took place in 1836 and it's estimated that 45% of the Creek Nation died in the process. There's even a citation, and I happen to have THAT book too: Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (2007). Howe is much too careful a historian to mess up the order. He discusses the departure of the Cherokees, but then he doubles back to write
By this time the Creek and Chickasaw tribes had undergone their own coerced Removals, accompanied by similar hardships, from Alabama and Mississippi, respectively.
I suppose Woodard didn't see "By this time" but really. If you're going to write something that's supposed to be a history, you have to pay attention to details. If you're making stuff up, however . . .

But then we get to Part IV, which Woodard calls "Culture Wars." Here he covers the libertarianism of the Far West (the Left Coast is really a fairly narrow strip of land on the Pacific Ocean, rather like Chile) and immigration (which didn't affect the dominant cultures and didn't affect Tidewater, Deep South, Greater Appalachia or El Norte at ALL).  Some interesting points here. "Nation of immigrants," he says, only applies to New Netherlands and the Midlands, which have always been at least polyglot. Never mind the great Scandinavian and Eastern European migration to the Great Lakes portion of Yankeedom. In this section, Yankeedom reverts to New England and Henry Ford's Americanization ceremony in Michigan, and the Yankee historians went to work

crafting a mythic "national" history [he should know] for students to celebrate, which emphasized the centrality of the (previously neglected) Pilgrim voyage, the Boston Tea Party, and Yankee figures such as the minutemen, Paul Revere, and Johnny Appleseed. In the Yankee paradigm, immigrants were to assimilate into the dominant culture Cultural pluralism,individualism,  or the acceptance of an Anglo-British class system was not on the Yankees' agenda.
Well, okay, but that work was being done by Yankee historians as early as 1830, when Daniel Webster claimed on the floor of the Senate that New England had never had slaves. That's probably a quibble on my part. Woodard has fun abusing Samuel Huntington and his disciples too.

So where we STILL are is in the arrangement of the nations after the Civil War:

an angry humiliated and salvation-minded Dixie bloc [Tidewater, Deep South and much of Greater Appalachia] against a triumphant social-reform-minded alliance of Yankeedom, New Netherlands, [the Midlands,] and the Left Coast.
This simmered until the late 1950s when the civil rights movement and the counter-cultural revolution brought everything to the surface. If I liked country music, I'd embed the video of Merle Haggard, a Greater Appalachian singer working in the Far West, performing "Okie from Muskogee," but I don't, and you get the picture anyway. Woodard notes that the culture clash may be even stronger on the issues of foreign policy and war and I tend to agree although he'd have trouble explaining J. William Fulbright in his nation schematic.

How does this play out in politics? It explains why the moderate wing of the Republican party, especially the Republicans in Yankeedom and the Left Coast, has withered away:

In short, by the early twenty-first century, Northern alliance Democrats and Republicans had far more in common with each other than with their counterparts in the Dixie bloc.
It establishes the Midlands, El Norte and the Far West as "swing" nations. This is followed by a paean to Canada and a claim that New France, whose capital is Montreal, is the most postmodern nation in North America, more progressive even than the Left Coast.

Okay. This is a good book that should be better than it is. I'm fine with where he ends up, but I wish he had been more careful about his history.

Originally posted to History for Kossacks on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 02:50 PM PDT.

Also republished by Readers and Book Lovers and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They don't look much like the Bill of Rights. (10+ / 0-)
    Articles of Capitulation on the Reduction of New Netherland
    [General Entries, I., 1664-1665, p.23, In Secretary of State's Office, Albany, N.Y.]

    These Articles following were consented to by the persons hereunder subscribed at the Governor's Bowry, August 27th Old Style, 1664.

    1.
    We consent that the States-General or West India Company shall freely enjoy all farms and houses (except such as are in the forts), and that within six months they shall have free liberty to transport all such arms and ammunition as now do belong to them, or else they shall be paid for them.

    2.
    All public houses shall continue for the uses which they are now for.

    3.
    All people shall still continue free denizens and enjoy their lands, houses, goods, shipps, wheresoever they are within this country, and dispose of them as they please.

    4.
    If any inhabitant have a mind to remove himself he shall have a year and six weeks from this day to remove himself, wife, children, servants, goods, and to dispose of his lands here.

    5.
    If any officer of State, or Public Minister of State, have a mind to go for England, they shall be transported, freight free, in his Majesty's frigates, when these frigates shall return thither.

    6.
    It is consented to, that any people may freely come from the Netherlands and plant in this country, and that Dutch vessels may freely come hither, and any of the Dutch may freely return home, or send any sort of merchandise home in vessels of their own country.

    7.
    All ships from the Netherlands, or any other place, and goods therein, shall be received here and sent hence after the manner which formerly they were before our coming hither for six months next ensuing.

    8.
    The Dutch here shall enjoy the liberty of their consciences in Divine Worship and church discipline.

    9.
    No Dutchman here, or Dutch ship here, shall, upon any occasion, be prest to serve in war, against any nation whatever.

    10.
    That the townsmen of the Manhatoes shall not have any soldier quartered upon them without being satisfied and paid for them by their officers, and that at this present, if the fort be not capable of lodging all the soldiers, then the Burgomaster, by his officers, shall appoint some houses capable to receive them.

    11.
    The Dutch here shall enjoy their own customs concerning their inheritances.

    12.
    All publique writings and records which concern the inheritances of any people, or the reglement of the church, or poor, or orphans, shall be carefully kept by those in whose hands they are, and such writings as particularly concern the States-General, may, at any time, be sent to them.

    13.
    No judgment that hath passed any judicature here shall be called in question, but if any conceive that he hath not had justice done him, if he apply himself to the States-General the other party shall be bound to answer for ye supposed injury.

    14.
    If any Dutch living here shall, at any time, desire to travel or traffic into England, or any place or plantation in obedience to his Majesty of England, or with the Indians, he shall have (upon his request to the Governor) a certificate that he is a free denizen of this place, and liberty to do so.

    15.
    If it do appear that there is a public engagement of debt by the town of the Manhatoes, and a way agreed on for the satisfying of that engagement, it is agreed that the same way proposed shall go on, and that the engagement shall be satisfied.

    16.
    All inferior civil officers and magistrates shall continue as now they are (if they please), till the customary time of new election, and then new ones to be chosen, by themselves, provided that such new chosen magistrates shall take the oath of allegiance to his Majesty of England before they enter upon their office.

    17.
    All differences of contracts and bargains made before this day by any in this country, shall be determined according to the manner of the Dutch.

    18.
    If it does appear that the West India Company of Amsterdam do really owe any sums of money to any persons here, it is agreed that recognition and other duties payable by ships going for the Netherlands be continued for six months longer.

    19.
    The officers, military and soldiers, shall march out, with their arms, drums beating and colors flying, and lighted matches, and if any of them will plant they shall have 50 acres of land set out for them, if any of them will serve any as servants, they shall continue with all safety, and become free denizens afterwards.

    20.
    If at any time hereafter the King of Great Britain and the States of the Netherland, do agree that this place and country be re-delivered into the hands of the said States whensoever his Majesty will send his commands to re-deliver it, it shall immediately be done.

    21.
    That the town of Manhatans shall choose Deputies, and those Deputies shall have free voices in all public affairs, as much as any other Deputies.

    22.
    Those who have any propriety in any houses in the fort of Orange, shall (if they please) slight the fortifications there, and then enjoy all their houses, as all people do where there is no fort.

    23.
    If there be any soldiers that will go into Holland, and if the Company of West India, in Amsterdam, or any private persons here will transport them into Holland, then they shall have a safe passport from Colonel Richard Nicolls, Deputy Governor under his Royal Highness and the other Commissioners, to defend the ships that shall transport such soldiers, and all the goods in them from any surprisal or acts of hostility to be done by any of his Majesty's ships or subjects.

    That the copies or the King's grant to his Royal Highness and the copy of his Royal Highness' commission to Col Richard Nicolls, testified by two Commissioners more, and Mr. Winthrop to be true copies, shall be delivered to the Honorable Mr. Stuyvesant, the present Governor, on Monday next by eight of the clock in the morning, at the Old mill.

    On these articles being consented to and signed by Col. Richard Nicolls, Deputy Governor to his Royal Highness, within two hours after, the fort and town called New Amsterdam, upon the Isle of Manhatoes, shall be delivered into the hands of the said Col Richard Nicolls by the service of such as shall be by him deputed by his hand and seal.

    John De Decker, Robert Carr,
    Nich: Verleet, Geo: Cartwright,
    Sam: Megapolensis, John Winthrop,
    Cornelius Steenwick, Sam: Willys,
    Oloffe Stevensen Kortlant, Thomas Clarke,
    Jaams Cousseau, John Pincheon.

    I'd never heard of them before, though so this diary helped me to understand a bit better.
  •  Approbo of nothing (8+ / 0-)

    I realize this is a history book, but even with that caveat, southern Ontario from The grater Toronto area to Windsor should be in whatever category New York through Michigan is in. Perhaps not historically, but certainly today, in every economic and cultural way that I can think of those areas have far more in common than any national east to west border.

    He gets the far west correct in that respect. As someone who has lived in Alberta, Toronto, Idaho, California and Washington state, there are far bigger historical, cultural and economic differences going east to west to west coast than any national border.

    I realize that is not the real focus but perhaps some will share that opinion.

    Blessed are the peacemakers, the poor, the meek and the sick: The "party of Jesus" wouldn't invite him to their convention - fearing his "platform."

    by 4CasandChlo on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 03:24:01 PM PDT

  •  Joel Garreau (9+ / 0-)

    did it first. His book The Nine Nations of North America was published in 1981. It's not a scholarly book, but he has a website and the statistical analysis is available.
    (I'd recommend this book.)

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 03:25:39 PM PDT

    •  i was going to add same comment (6+ / 0-)

      even though he published it in (iirc) 1980, i agree with your recommendation -- garreau's book is still well worth a read. core concepts seem to have held up quite well, even if specific supporting data are well past their freshness date.

      "i hear you're mad about brubeck ... i like your eyes. i like him too." -donald fagen

      by homo neurotic on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 03:35:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Second. A livelier tone, perhaps less (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in Northridge, Dragon5616

      weighty, but much the same info.

      Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 06:36:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've read both Garreau and Woodard (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in Northridge, a gilas girl

      And while I actually prefer Woodard's book, primarily because I like his characterization of a more complex South compared to Garreau who just calls it all Dixie, I do think that Garreau covered an extremely important cultural and political development that Woodard left out of his analysis entirely, namely the transformation of South Florida into a largely Caribbean enclave.  The cultural implications of this change are somewhat obvious, a Spanish/Haitian Creole speaking culture with stronger ties to various countries in the Caribbean and Latin America than to the American Deep South, but it's the political consequences that really interest me because like Woodard's El Norte this is a swing "nation." And like Woodard's El Norte the social, cultural and economic trends both of South Florida and of the core nations of the two major alliances Woodard identifies clearly point to a future in which that swing status will be increasingly in doubt as it shifts toward a Northern alignment.

      •  sounds like (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dave in Northridge

        Woodward didn't look at many developments post 1880 or so, which might explain what was missing.  Hardly surprising that historians would ignore hemispheric connections, since their attention seems always focused on the immigration from Europe.

        I rarely see treatment of those immigration patterns of the Asian immigrants who came first to the West Coast of our nation. As a life-time east coaster who is descended many times from "Easterners" the realization that not every one on the West Coast got there by travelling westward is an important reminder.

        Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. (Click on orange text to go to linked content.) Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

        Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

        by a gilas girl on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 05:20:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I read the book when it first came out. (5+ / 0-)

    It made a big impact on me, and for a while I felt like I understood American politics at a higher level than ever before. But then I just started forgetting everything (there's a lot to remember), eventually the list itself of the various nations. Now it's all a blur. For me at least, it was like a fine wine - it was great for a while but then the feeling went away. I usually remember things better than that, so I think for me it was particularly difficult topics to commit to memory (but interesting in real time nevertheless).

  •  Limelite published an R&BLers diary last week with (6+ / 0-)

    some notes re. procedure - You should read the whole diary, when you get a chance.

    If you republish a diary to R&BLers (and I thank you for catching content that should be directed to our Followers), please be sure to add the minimum two tags "R&BLers" and "Readers & Book Lovers," exactly as written.  I've noticed an increasing number of republished diaries are not getting those tags.
    So I fixed your tags.

    I'm halfway through your diary. It seems mostly insider baseball (or history), but interesting. Looks like Woodard swallowed a shelf of books, and was sloppy in giving them proper credit.

    "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

    by Brecht on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 03:40:07 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the diary, Dave. My colonial (5+ / 0-)

    U.S. history is rather more spotty than it should be, so I appreciate the detailed critique.
    I was thinking about diarying this book too because I think that some of his insights are valuable, certainly (in a non-historic way) as they help explain the persistence of some of our worst tensions. I'm glad you did it instead.
    There's one other glaring omission, I thought, in his schema: the presence and cultural impact of African-Americans in the Deep South but in other regions/"nations" as well. I don't think that portraying them as a sort of shadow factor in many of the greatest of struggles between proponents of conflicting world views is enough. They have made their own contributions to the political discourse and debates in this fragmented country, and they should be part of the mix.

    Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 06:44:32 PM PDT

    •  That's exactly the problem, Kate (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dragon5616

      It's why I linked to Procrustes' bed. The journalistic version of history is perfectly happy to leave out any details that don't fit the schematic being laid out (see, for example, the omission of Shays' Rebellion). The rest is explained by invoking Gramsci and omitting what he said about the subordinate cultures and how permeable the barrier between dominant/hegemonic and subordinate (see jazz and hip-hop) is.

      Columbine, Tucson, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Boston (h/t Charles Pierce) Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue

      by Dave in Northridge on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 06:49:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I read Albion's Seed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge, llywrch

    Not actually the whole book, but parts of it. It's a really long book. It's fascinating. I'd recommend it (or at least the parts that I read).

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 09:18:56 PM PDT

  •  This is pretty good (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, Dave in Northridge

    Although, the borders aren't set in stone.

    I think you have a tiny strip of about two miles of Yankeedom that runs along the southern coast of Lake Erie, but Greater Appalacia extends pretty much into western New York state.

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 09:35:55 PM PDT

    •  yes, new york is a strange mix of Appalachian (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in Northridge

      French, Yankee, British Isles and Germans and Dutch settlers...a broad brush of Yankeedom is pretty catch all, the above comments about New York are on the , money, eastern Michigan, western NYS, southern Ontario are very similar, probably many areas are fuzzy like that, and like all generalities, more is learned by arguing about them than using them..or something.

      This machine kills Fascists.

      by KenBee on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 11:35:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Another area is the middle of the "Left Coast" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in Northridge

      (Although I consider it better fits the label "Far West" than the Inner West region he tagged with those words.)

      In actual fact, the "Left Coast" includes the regions around the Puget Sound, the Willamette Valley, the Bay Area, some parts of the Los Angeles area (I'm always told that Hollywood is a pillar of the Left Coast, but YMMV), & the coastal parts of the states directly to the west of these enclaves. There is no land connections between them; those areas are more in sympathy with the "Far West" in many ways than with the 3 or 4 enclaves I listed. For example, Southern Oregon/Northwest California is full of rural counties that are just as red as any in Nevada, Idaho--or the eastern portion of those 2 states. (Look up "Jefferson (proposed Pacific state)" in Wikipedia for further information).

      But otherwise, an interesting break-down of regional variations in the US & Canada.

  •  Very comprehensive review. Having read both (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge

    Fischer's book and Woodard's, the two make a great pair. Everyone should read both of them, in succession if you have that stamina--Woodard's book isn't too long but Fischer's is enormous.

    We are lucky to have Colin Woodard as a contributor to the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

    I resent that. I demand snark, and overly so -- Markos Moulitsas.

    by commonmass on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 06:47:37 AM PDT

  •  I found this book to be extremely interesting. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge

    I listened to the audiobook, then read the print version.

  •  The 1981 book (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dan E in Blue Hampshire

    The Nine Nations of North America by by Joel Garreau seems to be a better breakdown of the subject.

    If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell. General Phil Sheridan USA

    by shigeru on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 10:26:44 AM PDT

  •  I've read it twice. It is exceptional. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge, ybruti

    The best part about it is that through the prism of the history shown the American narrative is explained, even up to today.

    As a kid I grew up in Philadelphia, with its Quaker tradition of concilliation, and went to graduate school in Raleigh, NC (NC State) in the late 70- early '80's. then I lived throughout the South fo thirty plus years, e.g., Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, and again North Carloina. In each case, regardless of my jobs, middle and upper level management, I hung around my musician buddies, none of whom went to college, and who were usually working class, plumbers, electricians, punch out construction workers, and unemployed.

    In the first few years, I was astounded at the propensity for instantaneous violence by my friends, but realized that like in James Webbs, book on the Scotch-Irish, these folks were "born fighting" at the drop of a hat. This behavior is explained thoroughly, and examines its cultural ramifications in "11 Nations."

    READ THE BOOK. YOU WILL LEARN A LOT ABOUT AMERICA.

    "There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home." John Stuart Mill

    by kuvasz on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 11:03:16 AM PDT

  •  Colin Woodard (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge

    If you enjoyed this, you might like his history of the Maine Coast - The Lobster Coast.  

    Woodard works as a writer for the Portland Press Herald, and has won awards for his fine investigative pieces on our illustrious Tea Party governor and his disastrous administration.  

    The opposite of "good" is "good intention" - Kurt Tucholsky

    by DowneastDem on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 01:43:20 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the timely review. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge

    I say "timely" because I'm spending the summer redoing my Public Opinion class, and -- in a fairly unusual twist among teachers of the subject -- I spend a couple of weeks talking about the historical/geographic/ethnic/religious antecedents of the contemporary party alignment. I read the book in May to refresh my knowledge of the subject and perhaps to employ the 11-nations framework as an easy and appealing device for visualizing our political geography.

    That's not remotely close to my area of specialization, though, so I greatly appreciate the cautions and caveats about using his insights.

    Hope you fall on your burger and fries.

    by cardinal on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 02:22:40 PM PDT

  •  Nine nations of north America Great pop sociology (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge

    book- but dated... Before television and info erased, blurred, homogenized the nation  We’re all Jerry’s (Springer) kids today

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