American Nations by Colin Woodward

BOOK  REVIEW
by Shoeb AminName: American Nations
Subtitle: A history of the eleven rival regional cultures of North America
Author: Colin Woodward
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0-14-312202-9If you are still looking for something interesting and enlightening to read for the summer this book is the perfect answer. If you’ve ever wondered why are some states “blue” and some “red”, even though they are situated right next to each other and how the two coasts turned similarly liberal and why the Deep South so pro-slavery ; If you wondered how the heck Trump became our president and why so many folks flocked to his rallies and still continue to do so and why New York City turned out to be so unique you need to read this book.

This book’s premise is that even though it is called the United States of America there are at least 11 distinct “countries” that make up the USA (the book includes adjacent areas of Canada), mostly depending on where the original immigrants came from as in the Puritans to Massachusetts and the Quakers to Pennsylvania and what the reasons were for those immigrants to leave their homeland and come to America. These 11 nations are named First Nation, New France, Yankeedom,New Netherlands, Tidewater,Greater Appalachia,Deep South, El Norte, Far West, The Left Coast and the Midlands.

One of the more interesting origins of one these 11 nations is about the Deep South; why it was so pro-slavery and why to a certain extent it is still somewhat racist. The people who first settled in the Deep South actually were Englishmen who actually arrived from Barbados where they had settled for many years and had prospered on slave labor (initially Whites from England and later Blacks from Africa). “Even while in Barbados they were known for their immorality, arrogance and excessive displays of wealth” as per the book. “ The slave mortality there was twice that of slaves in Virginia”. They owned huge estates but their children and their grandchildren were left with much smaller estates and the latter started looking for other places to conquer in order to preserve their lifestyle. And they chose Jamaica (West Indies) and Charleston, South Carolina. Thus Charleston became the hub of slave trade and it is their masters who eventually spread out to what is called the Deep South.

A similar interesting story describing the interplay of where the original immigrants came from and why they came relates to New York City, which actually is described as one of the 11 nations in this book. You’ll have to read it for yourself; I hope I have piqued enough interest with my review.

Finally, the epilogue describes all the possible changes that the United States may undergo with some of these nations not wanting to coexist with the others. Some of those possibilities may seem far fetched but the author reminds us as to what happened to the Soviet Union about 40 years ago.

One thought on “American Nations by Colin Woodward

  1. Thanks for sharing. Very interesting and will read it. About two years ago we took a two week car tour of South and travelling over four thousands miles. It was one of our best vacations. You feel as if you are in a different country and civil has never ended.

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