Synopses & Reviews
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, gods waiting room,” and a place to start over. Depopulated after the extermination of its original native population, today its 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 states 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.
Over its long history, Florida has been many things: an Edenic realm protected by geography; a wilderness that ruined Spanish conquistadors; a place to start over; and "god's waiting room." With a native population as high as 900,000 (who all died), it became a pestilential backwater, but today is our fourth most populous state. The site of vicious racial violence, including massacres, genocide, slavery, and the terrorist campaigns that undid Reconstruction, Florida is now one of our most diverse states, a dynamic multicultural place with an essential role in 21st century America.
From the very first, however, the remarkable story of Florida has been distorted and whitewashed. In Finding Florida, T.D. Allman reclaims this remarkable history from the mythologizers, apologists, and boosters. He shows Florida as it was and is, tracing its history through the pre-Columbian era, and under Spanish, French, and British rule. He describes the 19th century American maneuvers to take this territory it coveted, the importation of slavery following Andrew Jackson's military campaigns, and the terrible violence of the Seminole Wars. Florida became a state in 1845; sixteen years later it would secede.
In Florida, Allman writers, two Civil Wars unfolded. First was the actual war, then came the imaginary one, where brutality and ruin were transformed into a selfless struggle to defend a noble cause that never existed. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, Florida was sold as paradise, with tourism replacing slavery as the dominant activity. 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 history of this important place.
Fascinating, comprehensive, and accessible to the non-specialist reader.
[Allman] has managed to pull together a compelling read without sacrificing historical substance.”Glenda Gilmore, Professor of History, Yale University
About the Author
T.D. Allman is the author of Miami: City of the Future, and Rogue State: America at War with the World. A native Floridian, Harvard graduate, and former Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal, Allman was for many years the foreign correspondent of Vanity Fair, and is credited with uncovering the CIA's "secret war" (a phrase he coined) in Laos. He has written about Florida for Esquire and National Geographic, and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Harper's, The New Republic, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Le Monde, and The Economist, among other publications. He divides his time between Miami, New York, and the south of France.