American Nations: 11 Rival Regional Cultures

Tweets from within Kindle while reading American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard. This is an experiment! (Started 1 Sept 2013)


  1. I began reading this book after a discussion reminded me of the Nine Nations of North America (1981, Joel Garreau). 
  2. At some point, I thought, why not share my highlights on Twitter? Not only because it might stimulate public discussion but because I thought I might be able to find the notes more easily here than in the or Kindle interface.
  3. So that's what this is .... a collection of my in-the-moment-while-reading thoughts about this extremely well-written history book. I may not group them chronologically. I think one of the downsides, though, is that this Storify could get very long very fast. Also, as I experience this, I'm thinking about how it might function as a course assignment.
  4. Introduction

  5. Woodard begins by pointing out that "calls for unity" demonstrate a misunderstanding of our country's origins. "Americans have been deeply divided since the days of Jamestown and Plymouth." So whose "fundamental" values should we be restoring, hmmmm?
  6. He then introduces his 11 cultures, which differ from Garreau's nine. They also may not (probably will not) conform to geographical borders you currently hold in your head. From a 2012 review:

  7. The first is Yankeedom. (Base culture: radical Calvinists.)
  8. The second: New Netherland, aka New York City today. (Base culture: Dutch.)
  9. Then comes #3, the Midlands. (Base culture: English Quakers)
  10. Heading south, #4 is Tidewater. (Base culture: southern English gentry, "Cavaliers.")
  11. Breaking away to the west, #5 Greater Appalachia. (Base culture: northern Ireland and Scottish lowlands with a deep "warrior ethic".)
  12. And then my native home, Georgia, is part of #6 The Deep South. (Base culture: Barbados slave lords.)
  13. Jumping across the continent like a king's move in checkers, we find #7 New France in southern Louisiana and eastern Canada. (Base culture: northern French peasantry mixed with aboriginal culture.)
  14. The oldest of the 11 nations is El Norte at #8; he describes the border between the US and Mexico as being not unlike the wall between East and West Germany. (Base culture: Spanish.)
  15. The Left Coast at #9 conforms somewhat with Garreau's "Ecotopia." (Base culture: woodsmen from New England and farmers, prospectors and fur traders from Greater Appalachia.) Originally slated to become a "New England on the Pacific" by the Yankees.
  16. And then there's The Far West (#10), which, ironically, isn't the continent's western border. (Base culture: colonization "facilitated and directed by large corporations" from back east -- New York, Boston, Chicago -- and the west -- San Francisco.)
  17. The First Nation (#11) stretches across the continent. (Base culture: aboriginals).