American Nations

American Nations

A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

Additional Formats
  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780143122029
  • 384 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


• A New Republic Best Book of 2011 • The Globalist Top Books of 2011 • Winner of the 2012 Maine Literary Award for Non-fiction •

An endlessly fascinating look at American regionalism and the eleven “nations” that continue to shape North America

According to award-winning journalist and historian Colin Woodard, North America is made up of eleven distinct nations, each with its own unique historical roots. In American Nations he takes readers on a journey through the history of our fractured continent, offering a revolutionary and revelatory take on American identity, and how the conflicts between them have shaped our past and continue to mold our future. From the Deep South to the Far West, to Yankeedom to El Norte, Woodard (author of American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good) reveals how each region continues to uphold its distinguishing ideals and identities today, with results that can be seen in the composition of the U.S. Congress or on the county-by-county election maps of presidential elections.


“Fascinating . . . Engrossing . . . a smart read that feels particularly timely now, when so many would claim a mythically unified ‘founding Fathers’ as their political ancestors.”
—The Boston Globe
“[I]n offering us a way to better understand the forces at play in the rumpus room of current American politics, Colin Woodard has scored a true triumph.”
—The Daily Beast
“[C]ompelling and informative.”
—The Washington Post
“Mr. Woodard’s approach is breezier than [David Hackett] Fischer’s and more historical than [Joel] Garreau’s, but he has earned a place on the shelf between them.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“[American Nations] sets itself apart by delving deep into history to trace our current divides to ethno-cultural differences that emerged during the country’s earliest settlement.”
—The New Republic, Editors’ Picks: Best Books of 2011
“Provocative reading.”
—News and Observer
“In American Nations, [Colin Woodard] persuasively reshapes our understanding of how the American political entity came to be. . . . [A] fascinating new take on history.”
—The Christian Science Monitor
American Nations by journalist-historian Colin Woodard is a superb book. Woodard makes a compelling argument that the United Sates was founded by contradictory regional convictions that continue to influence current attitudes and policy on a national level. . . . American Nations smashes the idea of political borders. . . . There is much to grapple with in this well-written book.”
—The Portland Press Herald
“[F]or people interested in American history and sociology, American Nations demands reading. . . . American Nations is important reading.”
—St. Louis Dispatch
“[I]f you want to better understand U.S. politics, history, and culture American Nations is to be required reading. . . . By revealing this continent of rivals, American Nations will revolutionize the way Americans think about their past, their country, and themselves and is sure to spark controversy.”
—The Herald Gazette
“Woodard persuasively argues that since the founding of the United States, eleven distinct geographical ‘nations’ have formed within the Union, each with its own identity and set of values.”
—Military History Quarterly
“Colin Woodard offers up an illuminating history of North America that explodes the red state-blue state myth. . . . Woodard’s American Nations is a revolutionary and revelatory take on America’s myriad identities, and how the conflicts between them have shaped our country’s past and mold its future.”
“One of the most original books I read in the last year. . . . During my five years as an Ambassador in the United States, I spent a lot of time studying the  voting patterns of  different states and reading American history, and I have to say I find Woodard’s thesis to be fully borne out by my own observations.”
—John Bruton, former Prime Minister of Ireland
“Woodard offers a fascinating way to parse American (writ large) politics and history in this excellent book.”
—Kirkus (starred review)
—Publishers Weekly
“[W]ell-researched analysis with appeal to both casual and scholarly readers.”
—Library Journal
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