This book is a must-read if you enjoy US history, and a great companion to the current US Presidential primaries.
Woodard's thesis - approached almost anthropologically - is that the USA, and North America as a whole, is made up of nations within and astride the official political states. These 11 culturally distinct nations have grappled with each other for generations, and their tensions explain the course of US history.
These 11 nations include "Yankeedom" (New England), "New Netherlands" (New York City and its urbane satellites), "Midlands" (the Midwest, sort of, but also parts of Canada; it involves German and Scandinavian settlement), and the "Left Coast" (Coastal NorCal, Oregon, and Washington State). These states more or less want peaceful communities, tolerance, and social security, and have a long-term, ever-shifting series of alliances, with Yankeedom the most important and influential partner.
The rival bloc is usually made up of the "Deep South" (most of the US Southeast), "Greater Appalachia" (a much bigger swath than you'd assume, from the Appalachians down to Texas; he talks about our Scots-Irish heritage a lot, and references the movie Braveheart, twice), "Tidewater" (Coastal Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay, where most of the Founding Fathers were from and once immensely important, but now just a subservient satellite of the Deep South), and the "Far West" (the Wild West, basically anywhere humans couldn't really live without irrigation projects and large-scale shipping). There are other nations, too: "New France" (Quebec and Southern Louisiana), "First Nations" (Inuit-controlled Canada) and "El Norte" (Aztlán), but Woodard treats those as afterthoughts.
For Woodard, it's all about Yankeedom vs. the Deep South, a pitched battle for control over the US political systems and cultural mores. It's an amazing analysis. I don't agree with all of it, and I was pretty offended by some of his characterizations of Appalachians and Deep South. Dude has a bias. But it was a great read and made sense on soooooo many levels. It's worth it just for his contextualization of the Woodrow Wilson presidency.