Since the end of the Cold War, nationalism has re-emerged as one of the most powerful forces in the modern world. Students of nationalism have analyzed two principal categories of this phenomenon. Ethnic nationalism is more familiar and easier to define; it broke up Yugoslavia into four mutually hostile ethnic nations. It split Czechoslovakia into two nations. It threatens to do the same to Canada. In contrast, civic nationalism defines national identity not by presumed descent from an ancient bloodline with its own language, culture and genetic purity but by citizenship in a national state and loyalty to its political institutions.
James M. McPherson focuses on the American Civil War and Quebec's bid for separation from Canada as case studies in the contest between these two strains of nationalism, and offers both implicit and explicit comparisons to modern counterparts.
Is Blood Thicker Than Water? will finally give us the perspective to look at this phenomenon clearly and objectively.
From the Trade Paperback edition.