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American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional by Colin Woodard

By Colin Woodard

An illuminating historical past of North America's 11 rival cultural areas that explodes the purple state-blue kingdom fantasy.

North the US was once settled through individuals with unique non secular, political, and ethnographic features, growing local cultures which have been at odds with each other ever considering that. next immigrants didn't confront or assimilate into an "American" or "Canadian" tradition, yet really into one of many 11 specified neighborhood ones that unfold over the continent each one staking out together specific territory.

In American Nations, Colin Woodard leads us on a trip throughout the heritage of our fractured continent, and the rivalries and alliances among its part international locations, which agree to neither nation nor foreign obstacles. He illustrates and explains why "American" values range sharply from one quarter to a different. Woodard finds how intranational ameliorations have performed a pivotal function at each aspect within the continent's background, from the yankee Revolution and the Civil warfare to the tumultuous sixties and the "blue county/red county" maps of modern presidential elections. American Nations is a innovative and revelatory tackle America's myriad identities and the way the conflicts among them have formed our previous and are molding our future.

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Its altars are anything but cold. Its practical power and hopeful promise make every year an opportunity for modest reform and no year likely to be our 1648. It should be no surprise that those most eager to change the world would be harnessed to its reproduction. For those of my students who wish it were otherwise, this faith is the seductive obstacle. To turn back from reforms we know to be inadequate will require a refusal to take our eyes off the dynamics of struggle through which injustice is mysteriously reproduced by so many who intend just the opposite.

How could so unlikely a promise seem like a plausible political program for so many? Don’t laypeople also see, or at least suspect, that speeches like his are justifications for mobilizing resources behind the successful, deferring rather than underwriting the promise to compensate? Perhaps they do. But maybe they also sense that nothing so dramatic will happen anyway. And perhaps people think that is how politicians and World-­ Making Stories • 35 bureaucrats would frame choices that mattered to them in other ways or for other reasons.

The European Union offers the most obvious example. Debates between nations (Finland vs. Greece, Germany vs. Spain) or between center/right economic liberals and center/left social democrats are transformed into debates about the requirements of austerity, the demands of a single currency, entitlements of various stakeholders, or the free-­rider problems that may follow rewarding rather than punishing the profligate. At the same time, these large debates can be dissolved into matters of more or less in specific circumstances.

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