Vic Ing | 2/20/2014
" Every so often there will be a book that resonates so clearly, it causes one to wonder why it took so long for someone to write it. If you have ever wondered how it is that you can share a country with people who have ideas and beliefs so different from your own, this book holds the answers. It explains in great and believable detail not only why the Civil War occurred but why it is that the South is even more united after than before the war. It explains why northern politicians attempt to enforce their worldview upon the rest of the nation and how and why the rise of Hispanic culture in America's southwest is neither really new nor a surprise. Most distressingly, this book also emphasizes that the United States is really not so united after all but instead merely a federation of very separate nations with unique and quite different worldviews, bound only by the tenets of the U.S. Constitution which the author urges future politicians to pay heed to. Most importantly, this book is very well-written and supplies sufficient documentation and historical examples to back up the fact that there are indeed eleven rival nations (actually, fourteen nations) that comprise these United States. Lastly, most terrifyingly so (or perhaps comforting to some) is the last chapter where he surmises what might be the future of the flimsy political boundaries of North America (what we know today as the U.S., Mexico and Canada). He stresses that it is silly to assume that it be inevitable the borders remain the same throughout this century. Overall, this is a profound book and one that anyone with interest in politics, culture or U.S. history will find to be a fascinating read. "
Jim Barrett | 2/18/2014
" The book starts out interesting as the author describes his theory of rival nations and the description of their founding. But as he moves forward though history, his biases become increasingly evident and he uses oversimplified generalities to paint a struggle between what he clearly perceives as good and evil alliances. "
Joseph Mckenna | 2/11/2014
" A very entertaining book that will give you pause and new thoughts on your view of "America". "
Stacy | 2/6/2014
" This is an excellent history book proposing that the character of the United States is not one universal value system, but made up of 11 very different cultures/nations who are involved in a very tentative union. The history is very good, the hypothesis, I think, is excellent. If you are a student of American history I highly recommend this book. "
Marfy | 2/5/2014
" This is a thought-provoking book that I plan to revisit. Not only does it give one a new way to think about America's history, but it suggests a disturbing and difficult future for us. "
Bob Pearson | 1/23/2014
" I really give this book 3.5. The thesis is quite intriguing -- that America is actually composed of 11 (count 'em) different nations, and the outcome of domestic political events is the function of the interplay among these relatively distinct groups. Moreover Woodard posits that these 11 nations have persisted in their original orientation over time, in fact since the moment they arrived on the North American continent. To think about this notion, you might remember THE EUROPEANS by Luigi Barzini (1984), a marvelous book in which the author attempted with wit and insight to capture the essence of the separate European cultures as a guide to the future. True but not complete. Let us be happy that Colin Woodard is not a European. If he were, he might be telling us how certain it was that the European Union, much less the Euro, would be collapsing in failure. So the un-intriguing part of the book is Woodard's increasingly more difficult task as he proceeds through American history of shoehorning post-Independence America into his categories.
In fairness, it's neat to read about the characteristics identified with each group (and they do sound plausible) and then think of people you've met from that region or background with precisely those identifiers. By the time you reach the end of the book, however, the real plot line is clear: Woodard cannot stand Bush 43, hates the Deep South, loves the notion that Native Americans had and have higher life values than any of the European "nations", and even supposes in one brief section that northern Mexico might want to secede and join the United States! This could be an unusual theory indeed, and began to cause this reader to wonder just how accurate his other judgments might have been.
The one point of real disagreement, however, is more personal. History is not simply a function of trends with roots going back centuries. We do and must reinvent our futures in the present we are given if we intend to progress. For example, the European Union, for better and worse, is a courageous attempt to overcome history and move beyond a Europe of rivals to a Europe of common stakeholders. Time will tell whether it works. For the American South, since the end of the Civil Rights era, the region has outpaced the rest of the country in economic growth, and race relations have improved enormously. This is so not solely because African-Americans fought, sacrificed and bled for their proper place in American society, but because millions of Southern whites recognized the error in their history and were prepared to see it change for the better. I'm a little surprised Woodard wrote such a negative book three years after Barack Obama became president. I'm a bit disappointed that his enviable ability to turn a clever phrase overwhelmed his opportunity to capture a deeper truth -- the American will to reach perfection, no matter how distant. "
Ilona | 1/19/2014
" Explains a lot about past and current US culture and politics. "
Jennifer | 12/2/2013
" I haven't finished reading this book yet, but it's on my "to be purchased" list. Absolutely vital to my understanding of our country, and the different attitudes people have about government and its acceptable and desirable roles and functions. "
Farfoff | 10/23/2013
" This book is very interesting and puts a lot of things in context. "
L. | 10/15/2013
" Important historical perspective on why we now have "red" and "blue" states and why the twain shall never meet. Sobering. "
Deigh | 3/17/2013
" Very detailed and I personally did not care for the organization of the book. "
Jim Wilson | 1/4/2013
" A very nice, readable explanation of the regional basis of American culture. Quick read that like all good books raises as many questions as it answers. An excellent way to understand some of the real divisions in our society. Having lived in 8 of the eleven regions it seems to be accurate. "
Tammie | 10/13/2012
" Insightful view of the complexities of cultural behavior in the American regional cultures, still very applicable today. "
Jon Sayer | 3/18/2012
" This book has permanently changed the way I think about American politics. "