American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America | Colin Woodward | 2011 | 384 pages
In his absorbing analysis, Colin Woodward argues in American Nations that what is truly at the heart of America’s culture wars, divided politics and perpetual social conflict is the fact that demographically and sociologically speaking, the United States is comprised of not one but twelve nations, all with vastly different histories, ideals, ambitions and tolerances. Tracing the establishment of his individual ‘nations’ to immigration patterns to the continent which still have tremendous influence on regional culture, Woodward segments the US into a dozen all-but-sovereign lands [from roughly ENE to WSW]: First Nation, New France, Yankeedom, New Netherland, Tidewater, Deep South, New France [again] Greater Appalachia, The Midlands, The Far West, The Left Coast and El Norte.
As for Iowa, Woodward argues that we are primarily a part of the German and Presbyterian-dominated Midlands, though the northern tier of the state he assigns to Yankeedom, a vast swath of America informed by its Irish, Italian and Catholic heritage. Woodward’s exploration of classic American conflicts like that Union and Confederacy seen through the eyes of the Deep South, Tidewater and Yankeedom, colors these conflicts with influence most readers never thought of. He assigns the fierce individualism and poverty of Greater Appalachia to the clannish tendencies of the northern European settlers which first broke ground near the Smoky Mountains and offers a debilitating analysis of the Deep South’s complicated racial and socioeconomic history. Throughout, Woodward, while describing the roots of our modern day conflicts, instills in the reader another reason for the intense nationalistic pride most Americans feel all our lives: we are great because we are different, and different because we are great.