Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State

Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State

Language: English

Pages: 528

ISBN: 0802120768

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Longlisted for the National Book Award and a Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year

Over the centuries, Florida has been many things: an unconquered realm protected by geography, a wilderness that ruined Spanish conquistadors, “god’s waiting room,” and a place to start over. Depopulated after the extermination of its original native population, today it’s home to nineteen million. The site of vicious racial violence, including massacres, slavery, and the roll-back of Reconstruction, Florida is now one of our most diverse states, a dynamic multicultural place with an essential role in 21st-century America.

In Finding Florida, journalist T.D. Allman reclaims the remarkable history of Florida from the state’s mythologizers, apologists, and boosters. Allman traces the discovery, exploration, and settlement of Florida, its transformation from a swamp to “paradise.” Palm Beach, Key West, Miami, Tampa, and Orlando boomed, fortunes were won and lost, land was stolen and flipped, and millions arrived. The product of a decade of research and writing, Finding Florida is a highly original, stylish, and masterful work, the first modern comprehensive history of this fascinating place.

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the Confederates what might have been their only meaningful military success in Florida; “the fruits of the victory were insignificant,” Beauregard sourly informed Jefferson Davis, “mainly because . . . no serious attempt [was] made to pursue” the federal forces as they withdrew. Decades later, the Olustee massacre was transformed into a triumphalist tale of valor, culminating in glorious victory, of which every white man, woman, and child in Florida could be right proud. “In this battle,”

themselves. Rawlings’ writings seemed to promise that her backwoods yeomen would endure in their rustic Eden as long as Florida’s pine barrens and swamps did. In a way, that was how long they did last. For as relentlessly as those barrens and swamps were turned into resort communities and tourist attractions, Rawlings’ protagonists were relegated to the trailer parks and “projects” of a new Florida. Though Rawlings’ novel, as Richard Feynman’s father would have put it, tells us “absolutely

Francis Richard Scobee was mission commander; Gregory Jarvis, the payload specialist, was an employee of the Hughes aerospace corporation. Challenger’s pilot was Michael John Smith, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who had bombed Hanoi during the Vietnam War. Following a careful study of Cape Canaveral weather conditions, Smith had decided it was not safe to launch that day. When higher-ups overruled him, he said something that in the aftermath was seen as prescient. “You know,” this

1950, the population of Florida just before the first white male got there was “around 15,000,” an impossibly low estimate. Things had not changed much by 1971, though that year Professor Charlton W. Tebeau, in his History of Florida, did almost double the original population with the click of a typewriter key, to “about 25,000.” Today the advocates of political correctness and multiculturalism increasingly hold sway; in consequence pre-European Florida has undergone a population explosion.

he had fired the first Union shot of the Civil War. “In aiming the first gun fired against the rebellion I felt no feeling of self-reproach,” he recalled, “for I fully believed that the contest was inevitable, and was not of our seeking.” Some are remembered for what they did; Abner Doubleday would be ­remembered—twice over—for what he did not. Contrary to legend, Abner Doubleday did not invent baseball. He also did not fire the first shot “against the rebellion.” Those first shots had been fired

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