"Doyle has written an original and ambitious book on the nation-building experience in the United States and Italy. Nations Divided makes an important contribution to the growing literature on comparative nationalism and offers a convincing analysis of how the factors that make a nation can also prove its undoing."
—Lucy Riall, University of London
The Italian South had been at odds with the more prosperous, metropolitan North of Italy since the country's bloody unification struggles in the 1860s. Thousands of miles from Doyle's Tennessee home was an eerily familiar scenario: a South characterized in terms of its many perceived problems by a North eager to define national ideals against the southern "other." From this abruptly decentered perspective, Doyle reexamines both countries' struggle to create an independent, unified nation and the ongoing effort to instill national identity in their diverse populace. The Fourth of July and Statuto Day; Lincoln and Garibaldi; the Confederate States of America and the secessionist dreams of Italy's Northern League; NAFTA and the European Union—such topics appear in telling juxtaposition, both inviting and defying easy conclusions. At the same time, Doyle negotiates the conceptual slipperiness of nationalism by discussing it as both constructed and real, unifying and divisive, inspiration for good and excuse for atrocity.
"Americans like to think of themselves as being innocent of the vicious ethnic warfare that has raged in the Old World and over so much of the globe," writes Doyle. "Europeans, in turn, enjoy reminding Americans of how little history they have." This enlightening, challenging meditation shows us that Europeans and Americans have much to learn from the common history of nationalism that has shaped both their worlds.
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