Author Talk: Colin Woodard “Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood” with Acadia Senior College and the League of Women Voters of Maine–Downeast
In author Colin Woodard’s book “American Nations,” Woodard contended that we have never been one America, but a collection of rival regional cultures. In his newest book “Union” Woodard asks the next question: when and how did we come to convince ourselves that we were “one nation” with a shared past, purpose and future? Join Woodard for a virtual author talk on Monday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. during a joint program with the Jesup Memorial Library, Acadia Senior College and the League of Women Voters of Maine Downeast.
In “Union,” Woodard explores how the idea of a unified country has ignored the basic facts of our history. In the years following the Revolutionary War, the United States was still a murky concept for its citizens. But some figures realized that establishing a united vision was key and to do this they would essentially invent a story of nationhood. Woodard examines how the myth of our national unity was created and fought over by key players—George Bancroft, William Gilmore Simms, Frederick Douglass, Woodrow Wilson, and Frederick Jackson Turner—and how it continues to affect us today. On one side of the fight was a small group of individuals who promoted a history of the United States that attempted to transcend and erase the fundamental differences and profound tensions between the nation’s regional cultures. But this history was immediately contested by another set of intellectuals who claimed that if we are a nation at all, it is an ethno-state belonging to the allegedly superior Anglo-Saxon race. This concept eventually morphed into white supremacy and ethno-nationalism, and is therefore startlingly relevant to today’s political discussions.
David Blight from The Washington Post writes, “Woodard succeeds in demonstrating the high stakes of master narratives, versions of the past that people choose as identities and stories in which they wish to live…This book will help readers grasp the staying power and the consequences of the idea — ingrained in generations — that American history is essentially a chronicle of progress, a saga of liberty unfolding under some illusive pattern of exceptionalism and divine design.” Publisher’s Weekly adds “Ambitious and accessible…This enlightening and character-driven account will resonate with progressive history buffs.”
Woodard is a New York Times bestselling writer, historian and journalist who has reported from more than fifty foreign countries and six continents. A longtime foreign correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor and The San Francisco Chronicle, he is now a reporter at the Portland Press Herald, where he received a 2012 George Polk Award and was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, Smithsonian and Politico. He is the author of “American Nations,” “American Character,” “The Lobster Coast,” “The Republic of Pirates” and “Ocean's End.”
Books will be on sale for this virtual event from co-sponsor Sherman’s Books. Attendees can purchase the book through their website shermans.com, or by calling 207-288-3161 as well as at any of their physical locations. Registration for this event is required. To register fill out the form on the calendar listing of this event at https://jesuplibrary.org/event/woodard or email email@example.com.