American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America: Book Review

A friend of mine mentioned a book she was reading that talked about a number of regional cultures, or nations, that make up North America.

The book was American Nations; A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard published in 2012.

I commented that Woodard’s premise sounded like an expanded view of David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, published in 1989, which I absolutely loved.

When I reviewed Albion’s Seed, I highly recommended the book as a must read for genealogists because it provides a huge window into understanding how American society is still influenced by the folkways and culture of Fischer’s four British immigrant groups – the Puritans, the Virginians, the Quakers and the Scots-Irish.

Colin Woodard’s book should be considered like a second volume complementing  Albion’s Seed, as it expands the initial four immigrant groups to encompass all of the peoples who have influenced North American settlement and subsequent history.



Part One
Origins: 1590-1769

Chapter 1: Founding El Norte
Chapter 2: Founding New France
Chapter 3: Founding Tidewater
Chapter 4: Founding Yankeedom
Chapter 5: Founding New Netherland
Chapter 6: The Colonies’ First Revolt
Chapter 7: Founding the Deep South
Chapter 8: Founding the Midlands
Chapter 9: Founding Greater Appalachia

Part Two
Unlikely Allies: 1770 to 1815

Chapter 10: A common Struggle
Chapter 11: Six Wars of Liberation
Chapter 12: Independence or Revolution?
Chapter 13: Nations in the North
Chapter 14: First Secessionists

Part Three
Wars for the West: 1816 to 1877

Chapter 15: Yankeedom Spreads West
Chapter 16: The Midlands Spread West
Chapter 17: Appalachia Spreads West
Chapter 18: The Deep South Spreads West
Chapter 19: Conquering El Norte
Chapter 20: Founding the Left Coast
Chapter 21: War for the West

Part Four
Cultures Wars: 1878 to 2010

Chapter 22: Founding the Far West
Chapter 23: Immigration and Identity
Chapter 24: Gods and Missions
Chapter 25: Culture Clash
Chapter 26: War, Empire and the Military
Chapter 27: The Struggle for Power I: The Blue Nations
Chapter 28: The Struggle for Power II: The Red and the Purple


Woodard’s original intention, I believe, was to show how the political scene evolved through time to become what it was in 2010.

I have to admit that my interest in this book is not at all political. It stems from a genealogical perspective that explains the whys and hows of our ancestors’ cultural values and societal life and the life choices they made.

It was equally as fascinating a read as Albion’s Seed, but at 326 pages makes for a much quicker read than the 946 page Albion’s Seed.

Reading about the influences of the eleven cultures on American society was even more of an eye-opener than Fischer’s book.

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard published in 2012 by Penguin Books is available online for $14 (paperback), under $10 used and $9.99 on Kindle.


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