APR 10, 2019 10:00 AM
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A persistent heartland myth paints the rural and small town Midwest as local, insular, isolationist – “the ultimate national safe space, walled off from the rest of the world,” says University of Illinois historian Kristin Hoganson.
Dig into the history, however, which Hoganson has done for a new book, and you find the myth is far from reality.
The region has not been insular, but globally connected – in myriad ways stretching back to the advent of European colonialism. Rather than isolationist, it is “riddled with histories of foreign relations,” often in service to agriculture.
“It would take an entire atlas of maps layered on top of one another, transparency style, to convey the far-flung relationships that formed (this region),” Hoganson wrote in “The Heartland: An American History,” being published in April by Penguin Press.