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Book Review: American Nations by Colin Woodard

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Woodard has written a book that well and truly puts a lance through the myth that the US has been one big united country except for the Civil War. In fact this book gives evidence that the Confederacy was not the first time that an American region considered leaving. The Southern states were not even the first to contemplate it.

The premise of the book is that there is far more to regional differences than merely North and South of the Mason-Dixon line. There have squabbles between the regions since before the revolution, and these squabbles continue to reflected in the politics of the moment.

In fact, the American regional experience shares a lot more with the wars and squabbles of the European continent than most Americans imagine. While most of the time we were not killing each other, violence was not just restricted to the civil war.

The book is slightly let down by the final chapters which turn into a bit of polemic highlighting Woodard’s political view. However, unlike many authors, he is fairly clear about his political views, and it does not distract from the fascinating historical facts in the book.

Anyone wishing to understand American history and politics could do worse than read this book. Those who are engaged in country-wide politics will find some useful insights into the attitudes and regional variations. Woodard provides an ample bibliography should further reading be desired.

A fascinating and rewarding book about what makes the US the country it was and is today.

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