It is often said that America has become culturally diverse only in the past quarter century. But from the country’s beginning, cultural variety and conflict have been a centrifugal force in American politics and a crucial reason for our rise to power.
The peopling of the United States is one of the most important stories of the last five hundred years, and in Shaping our Nation, bestselling author and demographics expert Michael Barone illuminates a new angle on America’s rise, using a vast array of political and social data to show America is the product of a series large, unexpected mass movements—both internal and external—which typically lasted only one or two generations but in that time reshaped the nation, and created lasting tensions that were difficult to resolve.
Barone highlights the surprising trends and connections between the America of today and its migrant past, such as how the areas of major Scots-Irish settlement in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War are the same areas where John McCain performed better in the 2008 election than George W. Bush did in 2004, and how in the years following the Civil War, migration across the Mason-Dixon line all but ceased until the annealing effect that the shared struggle of World War II produced. Barone also takes us all the way up to present day, showing what the surge of Hispanic migration between 1970 and 2010 means for the elections and political decisions to be made in the coming decades.
Barone shows how, from the Scots-Irish influxes of the 18th century, to the Ellis Island migrations of the early 20th and the Hispanic and Asian ones of the last four decades, people have moved to America in part in order to make a better living—but more importantly, to create new communities in which they could thrive and live as they wanted. And the founders’ formula of limited government, civic equality, and tolerance of religious and cultural diversity has provided a ready and useful template for not only to coping with these new cultural influences, but for prospering as a nation with cultural variety.
Sweeping, thought-provoking, and ultimately hopeful, Shaping Our Nation is an unprecedented addition to our understanding of America’s cultural past, with deep implications for the immigration, economic, and social policies of the future.
About Michael Barone
MICHAEL BARONE is a senior writer with U.S. News & World Report and a contributor to Fox News Channel. He is the principal coauthor of the biannual Almanac of American Politics and the author of Our Country, The New Americans, and Hard America, Soft America.
"Lively, entertaining, and informative." -Alvin Felzenberg, The Weekly Standard
“Reading Michael Barone on politics and demography is like sampling a tasting menu prepared by a fine chef. His latest offering, Shaping Our Nation, does not disappoint…The book is a delightful read, full of color and stories of people and just enough data to inform and satisfy...It is a treat for the reader, and will trick you into knowing more about modern politics than you might otherwise have wanted to discover.” -Washington Times
“An honest, objective exploration of how immigrants changed the identity of the United States.” -Washington Independent Review of Books
“There is bipartisan Washington agreement about exactly one thing: No one else knows as much about anything as Michael Barone knows about American politics. This is confirmed by his sparkling study of the migrations that have made, and continue to make, our nation what it is.” –George F. Will, columnist, The Washington Post
Michael Barone, who created the indispensable Almanac of American Politics and has been updating it since 1972, knows the United States and its political contours from our largest cities to our smallest hamlets in all 3,033 of the nation’s counties. In The Great Surge, he applies that panoramic knowledge to the peopling of the nation, describing not just where our forebears originated, but how the many waves of migration within America have shaped our culture, politics, and destiny. The Great Surge added a new dimension to my understanding of American history. –Charles Murray, bestselling author of Coming Apart and The Bell Curve
"Nobody knows the political map of the United States better than Michael Barone. In this fascinating, fast-paced history he explains who we Americans are, where we came from, when, and why." –Walter A. McDougall, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, University of Pennsylvania
“Michael Barone dazzles in this eminently lucid and fair minded account of how a series of great migrations from colonial times to the present day shaped American cultural and political history. Linking today's Asian and Hispanic waves of immigrants to the Irish, Germans and others who came before, Barone reminds us that American identity has always been a work in progress. At a time when many doubt America's resilience and coherence, Barone offers solid ground for hope that America's future will be as rich, as complex and ultimately as fulfilling as anything we've seen in the past.” –Walter Russell Mead, professor, Bard College, editor-at-large, The American Interest
“As Michael Barone's The Great Surge demonstrates, America's history is largely one of migrations, a process that continues today. If you want to understand what divides Americans in terms of regions and ethnicity, Barone's book is essential. It also helps to remind us what has united us as a people through all these demographic storms, and can do so in the future.” –Joel Kotkin, author of The Next Hundred Million
“Michael Barone paints an illuminating demographic portrait that shows how historical migration surges and pauses, mostly unanticipated, profoundly shaped enduring regional interests in this country. Anyone wanting to understand today’s divisive politics and how we got here needs to read this book.” –William H Frey, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution and Research Professor, Population Studies Center, University of Michigan