American Nations
By Colin Woodard • 384 pages, $30
The author starts with the U.S. Constitution, where much leeway was given to state sovereignty, and weaves his narrative from that point.

Woodard’s writings traverse the country, from the Yankees in the Northeast who wanted to ban booze, slavery and grant women’s rights; to the Americans of the Deep South who sought to expand slavery westward.

He outlines a largely isolationist and anti-war population in the German-Scandinavian areas of the Dakotas, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. New Netherland, essentially New York City, came to be known for its cultural tolerance, commercial success, and general cosmopolitanism—consistent with its Dutch heritage.

Through all the people, places and histories, he weaves a narrative that displays how a diverse nation, despite innumerable cultural differences across thousands of miles and 50 states, has managed to stick together since the colonial days of the American Revolution.

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