cover image The Florida Life of Thomas Edison

The Florida Life of Thomas Edison

Michele Wehrwein Albion, . . Univ. Press of Florida, $34.95 (264pp) ISBN 978-0-8130-3259-7

This is both a portrait of Thomas Edison and a record of the vast changes to the region of Fort Myers, Fla., as it grew from a remote and unspoiled wilderness into a popular modern resort area with the attendant problems of overdevelopment and environmental damage. When Edison decided in 1885 to build a winter retreat and laboratory in Fort Myers, the region was regarded as a “frontier outpost.” The local paper proudly announced Edison's decision, and the town enjoyed an economic boom as construction progressed on the inventor's compound. Edison's new second wife, young Ohio-born Mina Miller, arrived in Fort Myers in 1886 and initially found the lack of running water and abundance of bugs ”miserable.” But she grew to love the place and became a strong advocate for both the people and the environment. Albion, former curator of the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, writes with an eye for extraordinary as well as ordinary details, from the difficult task of lighting Fort Myers in the late 1880s to family expeditions up the Caloosahatchee River and into the Everglades. B&w illus., maps. (Oct. 5)