The heartland always a place of global connection, not isolation, author says

History professor Kristin Hoganson specializes in the history of U.S. foreign relations, but her latest book, “The Heartland,” began with a dig into the local history where she lives. She found a place very different from what many Americans – even many Midwesterners – think they know. Photo by Fred Zwicky

APR 10, 2019 10:00 AM
CRAIG CHAMBERLAIN

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.

“The Heartland” is published by Penguin Press.
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The heartland always a place of global connection, not isolation, author says
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The heartland always a place of global connection, not isolation, author says
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A persistent heartland myth paints the rural and small town Midwest as local, insular, isolationist