Since the founding of these United States there have been a number of mass migrations that have profoundly impacted our economy, our culture and our politics. Some of the ramifications of these shifts in population were relatively short-lived while a good many others have had long-term implications for our nation. When it comes to American politics no one knows the X's and O's better than Michael Barone. He has synthesized a mountain of facts and figures and other pertinent information into a fascinating and very readable new book he calls "Shaping Our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and Its Politics". This ambitious project covers the entire gamut from the Scots-Irish migration at various times during the eighteenth century to the Hispanic migration from Mexico and Central America that we are struggling with today and just about everything in between. Michael Barone leaves no stone unturned in presenting a comprehensive overview of an extremely important and relevant topic.
In "Shaping Our Nation" you will discover that there were usually very logical reasons why people from all over the globe chose to make the move to America when they did. Barone painstakingly presents each piece of this mosaic and weaves it into a coherent narrative that will greatly enhance your understanding of how such migrations have shaped and reshaped our nation for more than 200 years. If you are like me you will be surprised to learn that a number of these major migrations ended rather abruptly and simply never resumed. The author presents some startling new numbers that seem to indicate that the massive Hispanic migration that we have witnessed over the past 30 or so years may have already come to an end. If this is true it could have a huge impact in the ongoing debate over immigration reform in America. Meanwhile, Barone also chronicles a number of significant internal migrations that have taken place over the past 200+ years. Two such surges occured in the decades leading up to the Civil War. Barone writes: "In the North the Yankee diaspora poured out of New England, settled upstate New York and moved rapidly westward. The South saw the expansion of slavery by southern grandees from the Atlantic Coast states. The Yankees and the Southerners came from different and in many ways antagonist cultures, whose distinctness was apparent in colonial years and became even more pronounced in the process of internal migration, which was a sort of colonization of the interior United States. These two migrations changed the nation in the first half of the nineteenth century and the conflict between them produced the bloodiest war in the nation's history". Significant internal population shifts continued to occur in the decades that followed the Civil War. Among the more recent examples are the black migration northward to cities like Chicago, New York and Detroit during the 1940's and 1950's and the mass migration of people from the big cities in the Northeast and Midwest to Florida between 1970 and today. Did you know that Florida's population has more than tripled over the past four decades? History has shown that these kinds of mass migrations have profound social and economic implications for both the areas losing the people and those receiving them.
It seems to be that "Shaping Our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and Its Politics" would be a great choice for history buffs, political junkies and general readers alike. You may be surprised to discover that some of the migrations that took place decades ago are still having a profound impact on our politics today. Although the subject matter can be a bit dry at times I found "Shaping Our Nation" to be a meticulously researched and very well-written book. Michael Barone makes his presentation in a logical, scholarly and very thoughtful way. There is a ton of information in this book that I simply have not seen anywhere else. After reading "Shaping Our Nation" I find myself just a tad more hopeful about the future of our nation. Highly recoomended!
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
About the reviewer
Paul Tognetti (drifter51)
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.
New York Times bestselling author, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Fox News contributor Michael Barone reveals the power and lasting influence of migrations on American history, economics, politics, and culture over the last three centuries.
If you could be transported back in time 400 years and view the world in 1600, you would find most of the concentrations of population--China, India, the Muslim world, Western Europe, and Russia--very familiar. But North America then was vastly different from today. It was not vacant, but Indian civilizations had only the slightest of connections to the more advanced societies of Europe and Asia, and their peoples were to suffer from enormous depopulation due to diseases for which they had no immunity.
In their place today, in vivid contrast with the years around 1600, is a nation with 5 percent of the world's population that produces 25 percent of its economic product and deploys more than 50 percent of its military capacity, a nation in which only 1 percent of its current population claims ancestry from the peoples variously called American Indians or Native Americans. The United States is by definition the cumulative product of successive migrations, first from across the oceans and then also within the nation itself. This book tells the story of how surges of migration of great magnitude shaped and reshaped America.