Saturday, April 14, 2012

On E.O Wilson's latest book in the Washington Post

My review of Edward O. Wilson's provocative new book, The Social Conquest of Earth, is in the Washington Post this weekend. Wilson, one of the nation's most celebrated scientists, asserts an evidence-based definition of the human condition and how it came to be so that's bound to attract attention.

I previously reviewed one of E.O Wilson's titles -- The Future of Life -- a decade ago for The Christian Science Monitor. I'm not sure we've made a lot of progress on confronting the issues he identified therein.

For history buffs out there, my last review for the Post was of David Hackett Fischer's new book, Fairness and Freedom.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Best Portland Author 2012

My thanks to the readers of Maine's Portland Phoenix for kindly naming me Best Author in the paper's Best of 2012 contest.

Other winners included Portland Buy Local (Best Cause), Novare Res (Best bar, beer selection, and patio), and our peerless watch shop, Swiss Time (Best Place To Have A Good Time.)

For local fans of American Nations, The Republic of Pirates, The Lobster Coast, and Ocean's End, I try to keep Best Bookstore 2012 -- Longfellow's -- stocked with signed copies.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Presenting the (slighty revised) American Nations map

I'm pleased to present the improved version of the detailed American Nations Today map, which will appear in the Penguin paperback edition of the book to be released in the fall of 2012. [Update, 11/4/12: the paperback is now available.]

This map makes a two minor improvements over the original. We've bumped up the state and provincial borders a notch so as to make the map easier to navigate. I've also added a label to south Florida, since everyone always asks about it. There are also three county corrections: Allegheny (PA), St. Louis (MO) and St. Charles (MO) were always supposed to be in the Midlands (as they are in the text), but got misassigned to Greater Appalachia due to my own sloppiness. (Three thousand little boxes, so little time.)

[Update: 6/13/18: In the intervening years I found two other errant counties on this map: Bernalillo (NM) should be El Norte and Suffolk (NY) is Yankeedom.]

Feel free to either download the JPEG file above or a higher resolution PDF file and show it to your friends and colleagues. It's a wonderful conversation starter and comes from a book that would make an ideal gift for any occasion, except Talk Like a Pirate Day.

As always, let me know what you think, either here at World Wide Woodard or at the American Nations Facebook page.

[Update: 3/15/15: Here are population figures for the U.S. portions of the American Nations.]

[Update: 6/13/18: Here also is the map for Alaska, for those who are curious.]

[Update: 5/1/16: American Nations' sequel is out: American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good.]

[Update: 1/7/17: Here is an analysis of the 2016 Presidential Election. Also caught and corrected error in the maps: Bernadillo County, NM should be El Norte (not Far West.)]

[Update: 7/31/20: Here is an analysis in the New York Times debunking the rural/urban divide using American Nations and here is an analysis of the geography of the early pandemic response. (Don't be fooled by the soft paywall pretending to be a hard paywall.)]

[Update: 8/31/20: The third part of the informal American Nations trilogy is now out: Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood. It's totally awesome.]

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Joining the Portland Press Herald

For those who follow my reporting on Maine, it now has a formal home. Next month, I'll be joining the staff of the state's largest paper, the Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram, where I'll be doing investigative reporting, news analysis, and coverage of what I think is the all-important beat these days: political finance. Here's the Press Herald's announcement from today's paper. (They've also hired Steve Mistler, intrepid State House correspondent for the Lewiston Sun Journal.)

I'll continue to work on my books and write on national issues for other publications -- foreign stuff too, although with a toddler at home there's been much less of that of late -- but look for my reporting from the Pine Tree State in the Press Herald and its sister papers, the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. More details to follow.

For background on the Press Herald and its parent company, start here. If you're looking for more on me, my books, and my reporting, try my website. If you're really looking for Bob Woodward and Google has led you astray, redirect your browser here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New England's (renewed) cod crisis

Most everyone by now knows something of the collapse of New England groundfish stocks following heavy overfishing by foreign factory-freezer trawlers (in the late 1960s and early 1970s) and domestic fishermen (through the early 1990s, when many fisheries were closed or severely curtailed.) It's a sad tale that's been told many times, including in my book on Maine, The Lobster Coast.

In recent years, however, there's been ground for optimism, with many Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine stocks having recovered or been deemed well on the road to being so. Many fishermen have been hanging on, trying to survive what has been hoped to be a lean period of finite duration, a tale I touched on in this piece a few years back. Even cod, federal fisheries scientists reported, was rebuilding at an acceptable rate.

But there's been a sudden reversal of fortune in recent months in regards to cod, with scientists reporting that previous assessments were faulty, and recommending deep cuts to fishermen's quotas. Concern was first limited to the Gulf of Maine cod stock -- the one most Maine codfishermen rely on -- but in recent days has been expanded to include Georges Bank cod as well.

Where did the scientists go wrong and what does it mean for one of Maine's most storied industries? That's the subject of my Talk of Maine piece in the new issue of Down East, available at news stands and, now, online.

One update since the piece was written: regulators settled on a 22 percent cut in quotas for this year, with far steeper cuts expected in 2013.