An Everglades Providence: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the American Environmental Century

Overview


No one did more than Marjory Stoneman Douglas to transform the Everglades from the country's most maligned swamp into its most beloved wetland. By the late twentieth century, her name and her classic The Everglades: River of Grass had become synonymous with Everglades protection. The crusading resolve and boundless energy of this implacable elder won the hearts of an admiring public while confounding her opponents—growth merchants intent on having their way with the Everglades. Douglas's efforts ultimately ...
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Overview


No one did more than Marjory Stoneman Douglas to transform the Everglades from the country's most maligned swamp into its most beloved wetland. By the late twentieth century, her name and her classic The Everglades: River of Grass had become synonymous with Everglades protection. The crusading resolve and boundless energy of this implacable elder won the hearts of an admiring public while confounding her opponents—growth merchants intent on having their way with the Everglades. Douglas's efforts ultimately earned her a place among a mere handful of individuals honored as a namesake of a national wilderness area.

In the first comprehensive biography of Douglas, Jack E. Davis explores the 108-year life of this compelling woman. Douglas was more than an environmental activist. She was a suffragist, a lifetime feminist and supporter of the ERA, a champion of social justice, and an author of diverse literary talent. She came of age literally and professionally during the American environmental century, the century in which Americans mobilized an unprecedented popular movement to counter the equally unprecedented liberties they had taken in exploiting, polluting, and destroying the natural world.

The Everglades were a living barometer of America's often tentative shift toward greater environmental responsibility. Reconstructing this larger picture, Davis recounts the shifts in Douglas's own life and her instrumental role in four important developments that contributed to Everglades protection: the making of a positive wetland image, the creation of a national park, the expanding influence of ecological science, and the rise of the modern environmental movement. In the grand but beleaguered Everglades, which Douglas came to understand is a vast natural system that supports human life, she saw nature's providence.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A compelling biography of one of the twentieth century's giants in American conservation and letters. Davis does for Marjory Stoneman Douglas what Linda Lear did for Rachel Carson and Farley Mowat did for Dian Fossey. He gives us the textures of a principled woman, sometimes troubled, sometimes ambitious, always dedicated to an unselfish goal. Davis does justice to both Douglas's life and the incipient days of America's environmental awakening."—Ted Levin, author of Liquid Land: A Journey through the Florida Everglades

"I congratulate Davis for his exceptional book on the life of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. More than just a biography, the book provides an excellent history of the modern environmental movement. I am certain that all who read it will be not only inspired by the dynamic, pivotal, and courageous life and work of Marjory Stoneman Douglas but also reminded of how terribly essential her efforts to protect the Florida Everglades and the environment remain."—Senator Bob Graham

"Davis has vividly captured the Marjory Stoneman Douglas I knew—a feisty, funny, indomitable American original. With erudition and eloquence he carries the reader along in a gripping story of the century-long struggle to save the Everglades. And he tells us that Marjory would surely want us to know that the struggle is far from over. This book inspires us to carry on her work."—Diana Chapman Walsh, president of Wellesley College, 1993-2007

"A brilliant biography, An Everglades Providence completes the portrait of one of the most important environmental figures of the twentieth century. Environmentalists claim Marjory Stoneman Douglas as theirs, but she was not a full-time activist until age 79. Davis fills in the picture with writing as clever and fluid as his subject's and with meticulous research that will have readers asking, 'How'd he find that?' His book is also another life story: that of South Florida's environment and its devastating alteration. A must-read for citizens and decisionmakers, who can choose to keep altering nature or heed Douglas and live in its balance."—Cynthia Barnett, author of Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.

"An impressive look at America during Douglas's lifetime and the growth of America's environmental movement. This outstanding volume is essential for environmental and history collections."—Library Journal

"Paints an affectionate portrait of the quirky Douglas."—Orion Magazine

"An Everglades Providence hardly knocks Douglas off the pedestal she properly occupies in Florida history. But this ambitious, scrupulously thorough biography extends credit to the many other people who helped put her there. Without diminishing Douglas' accomplishments, Davis details her critical collaborations with mentors, scientists, activists, journalists and friends who influenced her."—Miami Herald

“Davis never met Douglas, but he has given her the serious biography she deserves, capturing her cantankerous personality and brilliant mind, while at the same time providing the historical context necessary to fully appreciate her amazing life. It's a tour de force."—St. Petersburg Times

Library Journal

Davis (history, Univ. of Florida; The Wide Brim: Early Poems and Ponderings of Marjory Stoneman Douglas) describes this comprehensive study as a dual biography: it is both a portrait of one of the 20th century's most important environmental figures and a history of Florida's Everglades. The long-lived Douglas (1890-1998) is best known for the classic The Everglades: River of Grass and her tireless efforts to preserve that region. But she was also a lifelong feminist and social activist who worked to advance human rights. As an author, Douglas used experiences from her own life and tales of people she met in Florida to write stories for popular magazines and built upon her scholarly training at Wellesley to produce history and biography. In addition to the rich detail and documentation of Douglas's life, Davis offers an impressive look at America during Douglas's lifetime and the growth of America's environmental movement. This outstanding volume is essential for environmental and history collections.
—Patricia Ann Owens

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Product Details

Meet the Author


Jack E. Davis is a professor of history at the University of Florida. He is editor of The Wide Brim: Early Poems and Ponderings of Marjory Stoneman Douglas and coeditor of Paradise Lost? The Environmental History of Florida.
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Table of Contents


Foreword by Paul S. Sutter ix
Author’s Note and Acknowledgments

PART ONE
1 Journey’s End
2 River of Life
3 Lineage
4 Mr. Smith’s “Reconnoissance”
5 Birth and Despair
6 Suicide
7 Growing Up
8 Frank’s Journey
9 Th e Sovereign
10 Wellesley
11 Reports
12 Marriage
13 By Violence
14 Killing Mr. Bradley

PART TWO
15 A New Life
16 Conservationists
17 Rights
18 World War
19 Land Booms
20 The Galley Slave
21 Hurricanes
22 Stories
23 The Proposal
24 The Book Idea
25 The Park Idea
26 Dedications

PART THREE
27 An Unnecessary Drought
28 Perishing and Publishing
29 Grassroots
30 The Jetport
31 The Conversion
32 Regionalism and Environmentalism
33 Th e Kissimmee
34 Grand Dame
35 Justice and Equality
36 The Gathering Twilight
Epilogue: “Without Me”
Notes
Index

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