“American Nations”, a book by Colin Woodard, being discussed on Bloomberg.

Part 5 is here, with the earlier installments linked on that page.

I used to try to explain this idea to Japanese, when I discussed America. But I often just got a blank stare back. Some thought they knew more about America than they did.

I also remember trying to explain to a few Canadians that their Ontario was really an offshoot of the Midlands region of Pennsylvania, and that the American midwest was really settled through the Ohio River Valley, which starts in Pennsylvania. Since it’s fashionable for some Canadians to ding America whenever they get the chance, the truth hurts, I suppose. But someone is out there saying the same thing . . .

Most of us learn American history in high school. It is, for the most part, boiler plate, and written in books meant to sell throughout the country. What this means is, the book cannot offend the South. In many cases, the book is written by a publisher located in the South, and so you get the side of the losers in the Civil War as the “truth” about that great conflict.

If you take some American history in college, and are lucky enough not to go to a Politically Correct one at the time you are young, you get to learn a little more of the nuances. Maybe delve a little bit deeper into the conflicts of the late 18th and 19th centuries, which still hang over us like a dead hand, guiding and governing our contemporary viewpoints—even though many Americans are clueless as to what is doing the moving.

When someone like Colin Woodard decides to bring his creativity to American sociology, it’s a pleasure and it opens up a good debate.

I am not finished with the book yet, but it is a good read, and I think anyone who enjoys heavier American history would like it.