The first general purpose of this book has been to dispute two theses of the popular American geographical imagination. The first of these is what we might call the thesis of American geographical equality. This states that the territory of the country is fundamentally homoge neous, with individual places no more than local variations on the national theme. Although this view has never had much appeal for geographers, it is necessary to such popular notions as the “American way of life” or the “American dream,” and to the scholar s belief that it is possible to speak intelligently about such things as American cul ture or American history. Indeed one invokes the thesis of American geographical equality almost any time one uses the word American as an adjective. Although we readily concede that federal legislation, mass media, geographical mobility, and large corporations have worked to give much of the country an apparent uniformity - what the geographer Edward Relph called placelessness - we insist that the United States is nevertheless best understood as a congeries of unequal places, a confederation of unequal regional societies.