Saturday, October 31, 2020

Talking American Nations and the 2020 election with Denmark's Zetland Magasin

The world is watching as the U.S. staggers towards the highest stakes election since the 1870s Tuesday, and some reporters have been drawn to American Nations, American Character, Union and even The Lobster Coast for an explanation as to what is going on. Two stories came out yesterday.

Denmark's Zetland Magasin has this longform feature on American Nations and how it explains what's going on in this country. I enjoyed speaking with editor Jakob Moll and seeing my work rendered in Danish, the language of an eighth of my ancestors. Ny Holland! Det dybe sud! Great stuff.

Friday's Le Monde carried this feature on the disunited States, with a nice name drop (in excellent company) for my latest book, Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood. There are some scenes that take place in Paris, so perhaps a few readers there will discover the book.

On Monday, CBC-New Brunswick broadcast their story on Maine's second district, the topic of this post here at World Wide Woodard.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Talking US national identity and Union on America's Public Forum panel Nov 1

This coming Sunday, November 1, I'll be joining a virtual panel to discuss "The Search for a Shared American Narrative," which in its original 19th century guise, is the topic of my latest book, Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood

Fellow panelists are Damon Linker, columnist at The Week; James White, Chairman of the North Carolina Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission; and David Blankenhorn, President of Braver Angels, a civic non-profit that seeks to depolarize the country.

The panel, which kicks off at 7pm Eastern, is part of the America's Public Forum series on American national identity in the 21st Century and is convened by the Indiana-based Harrison Center, Sagamore Institute, and Braver Angels, as well as the National Institute for Civil Discourse and moderated by Alexandra Hudson, a scholar in residence at Harrison, an arts-as-development organization in Indianapolis.

It's free and open to the public, but as with most virtual events, you need to pre-register.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Talking the Two Maines, Maine-2, and the 2020 election with CBC-New Brunswick

Not surprisingly, the outside world is paying a great deal of attention to our pending election. An additional data point: I did interviews back-to-back Monday with journalists in Denmark and Canada about separate aspects of the cultural and political context for 2020.

The first of those interviews, with CBC-New Brunswick, is included in today's radio/text/television story on Maine's Second District, its politics, its differences with the First District, and its potentially decisive role in Tuesday's vote, as there's a scenario (however unlikely) under which its single electoral vote breaks a 269-269 Electoral College tie. Add in the race between Senator Susan Collins and his Democratic rival, former Maine House speaker Sarah Gideon, and there's a lot at stake.

Also, in a scene out of Cold War Berlin or Vienna, reporter, Jacques Poitras also interviews an American voter live across the closed border on the bridge connecting tiny Forest City, Maine (Population: 5) and Forest City, New Brunswick. It's fitting as Poitras is also the author of Imaginary Line: Life on an Unfinished Border, about our federations' shared frontier.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Speaking on Union (virtually) in Brunswick, Maine, Oct. 28

Tomorrow, October 28, I'll be speaking on my new book, Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood via the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, Maine. Owing to the pandemic, this will be a virtual event, but the good news is that that means it's free and open to the public, anywhere and everywhere.

The event kicks off at 7pm and you can find the Zoom link and other details at the library's website here.

Signed books are on sale for this virtual event from co-sponsor Gulf of Maine Books, the intrepid independent bookstore that's been on Maine Street in Brunswick since I was in kindergarten. They're old school, so no website -- kind of the anti-Amazon -- so you purchase books tby emailing the store,, or by calling 207-729-5083. You can even arrange to have me personalize them before pickup/shipment, as I live in the area. (I also can offer this service via Portland's Longfellow Books and Print: a Bookstore, which do have websites, if you need that.)

Also thanks to both GrowSmart Maine and the Maine Public Relations Council, each of which had me as a keynote speaker for their annual meetings last week. Enjoyed e-meeting many of you via the events, and speaking about some of the implications of Maine and New England's histories (via Lobster Coast and American Nations for GrowSmart) and the experience of covering 2020, here and away for the Maine PR Council.

My next public virtual event is being hosted out of Indiana: a Nov. 1panel discussion on the U.S. national identity hosted by the National Institute for Civic Discourse, the Sagamore Institute, and others. 

Friday, October 16, 2020

Talking with Discover Magazine about causes of regional personality differences

Discover Magazine reported on a recent study on the relationship between topography and personality, and reached out to me for my thoughts on the causes of observed differences between the regions. Needless to say, I argued culture -- not topography -- was the more determinative force at work.

Read on to the article by writer Sophie Putka for the details. And for more on Frederick Jackson Turner's dead end, check out Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Talking UNION with Heartland Politics

Had an enjoyable conversation last week with Monmouth College political scientist Robin Johnson about the story told in Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood for his "Heartland Politics" radio show and podcast. 

The show now airs on WVIK, the NPR affiliate for the Quad Cities on Iowa/Illinois border: Davenport, Moline, Rock Island, and Bettendorf and our conversation can be heard here

The Quad Cities are classic Midlands country, in American Nations terms, and even have a cameo in Union, when the historian George Bancroft, former President Millard Filmore and a crowd of dignitaries arrive in Rock Island in 1854 as part of a junket sponsored by the new Chicago and Rock Island Railroad. They meet a non-descript railroad attorney during a Springfield, Ill. whistle stop on their way home and pay him no mind. They guy's name was Abraham Lincoln.

But I digress. Please: enjoy the show. 

I was last on air in Iowa this summer on Iowa Public Radio's River to River and was on Robin's show back when it was still hosted on KBUR just across the Mississippi -- thus the change from "K" to "W" in call letters -- to talk about what American Nations had to say about the state of US politics.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Chicago Magazine, Alabama Political Reporter on American Nations; Jeff Daniels on Union

As the highest-stakes U.S. election since 1860 fast approaches, various news outlets have been using American Nations to explain how things got so bad. Most interesting for me is when they use the book to analyze their own backyards, especially when those places are far from where I live.

Two cases in point over the past 48 hours:

The editor-in-chief of Alabama Political Reporter, Bill Britt, wrote this OpEd about the state of his state, using the observations I made about the Deep Southern social and political legacy. "Today, Alabama’s governance framework and, to a lesser degree, its society is much like the Deep South characteristics Woodard describes," Britt writes. "One Party rule. A dominant religion. A racial caste system. And a willingness to impose regulations on personal behavior while opposing almost every economic restrictions." 

To the north, Chicago Magazine has this feature using American Nations to explain why Illinois -- or at least it's dominant northern tier -- votes like New England. "In Lincoln’s day, New England-settled northern Illinois was the most anti-slavery part of the state," writer Eric McClellan argues. "Today, it’s the reason that Illinois votes more like a coastal state than most of its Midwestern neighbors."

And, separately, Jeff Daniels gave a shout out to my new book, Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood in this interview with AV Club. (He previously touted American Nations too.) Thanks, Jeff!