Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State

Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State

by T. D. Allman


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Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State by T. D. Allman

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802122308
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 02/25/2014
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 370,974
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.70(d)

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.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Natures and Names ix

Part 1 Invasive Species

1 Believe It or Not 3

2 The Johnny Appleseed of Pigs 12

3 Chert 20

4 The Fort, Not the Fountain 36

Part 2 Coveting Florida

5 The West Florida Lone Star Butterfly Effect 49

6 The Unseen Foe 65

7 Americanization at Negro Fort 82

8 Florida's Fake History 99

Part 3 Osceola's Head

9 Governor DuVal's Conspiracy 115

10 Denned by Massacre 135

11 Jesup's Capitulation 159

12 Alternative Floridians 178

Part 4 Whistling Dixie

13 Metropolis of the Branded Hand 201

14 Disambiguation 223

15 Empowering the Betweenity 249

16 Triumph of Violence 276

17 King Ignorance 292

Part 5 Project Future

18 Pioneers in Paradise 311

19 Swanee 337

20 The Total Triumph of Walter P. Fraser 346

21 Location, Location, Location 365

Part 6 Florida Millennium

22 Theme Park Universe 387

23 Cities of the Future 402

24 A Fateful Convergence 431

Epilogue: No Escape from America 451

Thanks 459

Bibliography 463

Notes and Citations 481

Index 517

What People are Saying About This

"Equal parts social analysis, historical review, and jeremiad, Finding Florida is a passionate, often scathing, and remarkably comprehensive encounter with a confounding, contradictory, and ever-elusive place. If your idea of hell is being chained to a galley oar between a politician and a Chamber of Commerce exec, then you are likely to love this book." —Les Standiford, author of Last Train to Paradise

“Manuscripts repeatedly find their way into print that ignore the reality of Florida’s past and, in so doing, skew our understanding of what Florida has been, what it is now, what it’s likely to become, and what that means for everyone. T. D. Allman’s book turns all that on its head. It directly challenges the existing historiography with highly intelligent insight and crafting of narrative in a way that permits the reader to immerse himself in a world far from the expected one. Finding Florida is provocative to the point of daring. Thomas Jefferson claimed a little revolution was needed about every twenty years. Florida and its historiography is long overdue for one.” —Canter Brown, Jr., Professor of History, Fort Valley State University

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Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Vietnam1968 More than 1 year ago
I usually do not read history books, but T.D. Allman is exceptionally funny. I really enjoyed reading this book. For example, he says Florida "attracts the criminally inclined" individuals that have come from some other state to do their "good" deeds in Florida. Anyone who gives this book a bad rating never read it, in my opinion. He also explains how the Ponce de Leon discovery of the Fountain of Youth is a myth. He was dead by the time the claim was made. Even the Gasparilla festival in Tampa, he calls "the front-runner in historical fakery". So if you think you know Florida history, compare with what you know with what he says. He also explains how Disney got to perform one the greatest land grabs in history as his lawyers helped him acquire the Disney property by first claiming it a drainage district. Then to an improvement district both with the title of Reedy Creek. And then how Disney property has no elected officials governing the two claimed cities. The city of Bay Lake, Florida, became The Magic Kingdom and the city of Reedy Creek became Lake Buena Vista. But above all they pay no taxes to the state to support all the infrastructure around the Disney property. Like I said before, anything but 4 stars means someone did not read this book. They only like to write fake evaluations, just like most of the Florida history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having lived in Florida during the winter months, I decided to read about the history and background of the state. I had no idea that there had been such turmoil in its past and that three foreign countries tried to establish themselves here. I also had no idea that several of our presidents were determined to bring it under their rule.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a lifelong 58 year resident of Florida I found this book fascinating and intriguing. Having lived in Tampa, Miami Lakes and Bartow Ive seen the immense growth of Florida personally. Ive always been fascinated as this book points out how many people outside the state believe it never freezes here. I would disagree that politics are more corrupt here than anywhere else in the US. I would have liked to see more on the history of the keys. Overall, the best book Ive evrer read on FL. 5 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Allman is the Oliverv Stone of Floridology. He imagines a vast race-based conspiracy laced in the trappings of boosterism gone wild that ones back to Ponce de Leon.  His is a Florida without shame, hideous to the core. I left finished this strange narrative wondering if this wasn't simply Allman ridding vomiting up his childhood demons from the Tampa  Bay area,which he left for good in the 1960s for Harvard, the New York Times, and now France.  The first half of the book is a readable rehash of  recent histiorriogrphy of Florida's first few centuries, which portray the place as frontier extension of. deep Dixie dipped in a legacy of the Spanish Caribbean.  The last  half betrays a rush to the publisher to meet  a deadline; this part is shallow, episodic, poorly researched, error packed, and often simply bizarre.  But, Inhave to hand to this wily self-promoter--he's brought home the truth that there's no such thing as bad publicity when you're trying to sell a bill of goods.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book that cuts through the established "American Exceptionalism" lens through which history is usually taught. Those with Confederate leanings or believers in the Monroe Doctrine will not enjoy it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I will give it 2 stars because of the historical perspective, I will also warn the reader that this book has a very liberal slant. For example, the author portrays every civil war topic as "murder", not "battle". I finally tired of his negativity and stopped reading half way through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry i mean 15 dollers