It can be baffling and debilitating to try to understand American culture — but perhaps this is because we should be thinking in the plural: cultures. The current political polarization is especially frustrating, and Colin Woodard’s thesis went a long way toward helping me get a better sense of where we are as a culture. There’s more to the story, I think, but tracing the ethno-regional history of big swaths of North America is invaluable. Different cultures within America inherited specific core values, ethics, and ways-of-being that set them against each other in ways that continue to perpetuate conflict. Of particular concern are the “Yankee” culture and the “Deep South.” Many of us are familiar with these differing values, but there are more subtle shades that Woodard explores, as in the “Far West” or “The Left Coast.”….This is one of those Aha! books that sticks with me, that I continue to digest.