Colin Woodard
Book Speaker
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Colin Woodard

Fee Range1: $ 4000 - $6000

Author, Historian, Journalist


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Colin Woodard

Colin WoodardAuthor, Historian, Journalist

Colin Woodard is an award-winning author and journalist whose books include American Nations: A History of The Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, which was named a book of the year by The New Republic and The Globalist and won the Maine Literary Prize for Non-Fiction, and The Republic of Pirates: Being The True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, a New York Times bestseller that inspired an NBC television series and has been translated into nine foreign languages. A longtime foreign correspondent, he reported from more than 50 foreign countries and seven continents for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Chronicle of Higher Education before joining the staff of the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, where he won a 2012 George Polk Award was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting. He is a contributing editor at Politico, a graduate of Tufts University and the University of Chicago and a past Pew Fellow in International Journalism at the Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies.

His other books include Ocean’s End: Travels Through Endangered Seas, The Lobster Coast (on the history of Maine and its people), and American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good, which won a Maine Literary Award and was a finalist for the 2016 Chautauqua Prize. Woodard has been a guest on PBS News Hour, CNN, Chuck Todd’s MSNBC show, BBC World Service, NPR’s All Things Considered, and numerous cable television series. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Economist, Smithsonian, and many other publications. Recent speaking engagements include the Asahi World Forum in Tokyo, the Chautauqua Institution, the Boston Athenaeum, Iowa State University, Doshisha University (Kyoto, Japan) and the annual meetings of the HR Policy Association, the Maine Archives and Museums Association, and the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities.

Mr. Woodard leads the Nationhood Lab at Salve Regina University’s Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy.  The Pell Center  is a think tank on the Salve Regina University campus in historic Newport, Rhode Island. Its programs on domestic and international issues are designed to generate new ideas, to expand public understanding of important issues and, ultimately, to help the public and its leaders make better decisions.  Dedicated to honoring Sen. Claiborne Pell’s legacy, the center promotes American engagement in the world, effective government at home and civic participation by all Americans. The Pell Center accomplishes this through research and publications, public events and media programs that run throughout the year.



American Nations: The 11 Rival Regional Cultures of North America

There’s never been one America, Woodard argues in his award-winning book, but rather several Americas, each with its own, centuries-old ideals, values, and religious and cultural heritage. Understanding the real map of the continent and its rival cultures is essential to understanding our history, from the divisions of the American Revolution and the Civil War to the “blue county / red county” election cycles, past, present, and future. In this gripping and enlightening presentation, Woodard shows how early colonial settlement patterns shaped the continent’s cultural, political, and religious landscape, the constitutional structure of the union, and our linguistic, political, and genealogical landscape.

Blackbeard and the Real Pirates of the Caribbean

Woodard tells the jaw-dropping tale of a single band of pirates whose brief career in the early 18th century shook the foundations of four empires, presaged the radical democratic spirit of the American and French revolutions, and gripped the popular imagination so tightly it has never let go. Led by Blackbeard, Sam Bellamy and others, the pirates set up a roughshod republic in the failed British colony of the Bahamas, elected and deposed their captains, welcomed runaway slaves to their ranks, and saw themselves leading a maritime revolt against the ship owners and captains who’d made their lives miserable. A compelling and revealing story, it makes people rethink their assumptions about the colonial era, the “skull and bones” pop culture of piracy, and the deep roots of democratic sentiments of Jacksonians and Jacobins alike.

American Character: The Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good

The struggle between individual rights and the good of the community as a whole has been the basis of nearly every major disagreement in America’s history, from the debates at the Constitutional Convention and the run-up to the Civil War, to the fights surrounding the agendas of the Federalists, the Progressives, the New Dealers, the civil rights movement, and the Tea Party. Balancing these forces is the key and never-ending task of a liberal democracy, and if one or the other is neglected, tyranny follows, oligarchic on one hand, Orwellian on the other. In this presentation, Woodard traces these two key strands in American politics and political philosophy through the two and a half centuries of the nation’s existence; explores how different regions of the country and the nation as a whole have successfully or disastrously accommodated them; and lays out a path forward that would heal our battered republic.

What holds us together? Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood

The story of how the myth of U.S. national unity was created and fought over in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—a conflict that continues to affect us today.  In Union, Woodard tells the story of the struggle to create a national myth for the United States, one that could hold its rival regional cultures together and forge an American nationhood. On one hand, a small group of individuals—historians, political leaders, and novelists—fashioned and promoted the idea of America as nation that had a God-given mission to lead humanity toward freedom, equality, and self-government. But this emerging narrative was swiftly contested by another set of intellectuals and firebrands who argued that the United States was instead the homeland of the allegedly superior “Anglo-Saxon” race, upon whom divine and Darwinian favor shined.   Colin Woodard’s engaging talk tells the story of the epic confrontations between these visions of our nation’s path and purpose through the lives of the key figures who created them, a cast of characters whose personal quirks and virtues, gifts and demons shaped the destiny of millions. It explains how we got here has a nation and offers the background essential to finding our way back to a better, more unified state.

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