For Sale American Paradise: How Our Nation Was Sold an Impossible Dream in Florida

Willie Drye. Globe Pequot/Lyons, $24.95 (312p) ISBN 978-0-7627-9468-3
Drye (Storm of the Century) weaves stories of economic development, railroad construction, and outlaw behavior into this tale of Florida's early boom years and the ensuing hurricane-triggered bust. On paper, Florida didn't look like the most inviting of locales when it became a state in 1845. Hurricanes, roaring heat, alligators, and the impenetrable Everglades were enough to keep most folks away. In 1867, Harriet Beecher Stowe built a winter home near Jacksonville and began to sing Florida's praises with rhapsodic descriptions of the state's natural beauty, setting in motion a series of dispatches by Ulysses S. Grant, William Jennings Bryan, Warren G. Harding, and others encouraging northerners to consider the state as a vacation or respite destination—Miami in particular. A period of rapid growth followed, with roads and railroads connecting Miami to the Florida Keys as well as one carved through the formidable Everglades connecting Fort Myers to Miami, further enabling economic development. A lax attitude toward Prohibition didn't hurt. Drye has clearly done his research. . His narrative can be jarring, with few segues between threads, but Floridians, snowbirds, and historians are sure to appreciate the story behind one of America's most famous vacation spots. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/14/2015
Release date: 10/01/2015
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-4930-1899-4
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