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The Most American Region

A new book restores the Midwest to its central place in our national history.

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Fall colors are a backdrop to farmland along north Saginaw street on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022 in Lapeer, MI. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The Good Country: A History of the American Midwest, 1800-1900, Jon Lauck, University of Oklahoma Press, 366 pages.

Of all America’s regions, the Midwest captures the American imagination the least. Inhabitants of coastal cities reduce it to “flyover country,” the in-between areas one must avoid even setting foot in on one’s way to more interesting places. The belief that the region lacks enough cultural attractions belies the fact that it did a great deal to establish what Americans consider central to our national culture today, including religious tolerance, abolitionism, and the importance of public schools. In The Good Country, Jon Lauck restores the Midwest to its proper central place.