The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise

The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise

by Michael Grunwald
4.4 7

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The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise by Michael Grunwald

The Everglades was once reviled as a liquid wasteland, and Americans dreamed of draining it. Now it is revered as a national treasure, and Americans have launched the largest environmental project in history to try to save it. The Swamp is the stunning story of the destruction and possible resurrection of the Everglades, the saga of man's abuse of nature in southern Florida and his unprecedented efforts to make amends. Michael Grunwald, a prize-winning national reporter for The Washington Post, takes readers on a riveting journey from the Ice Ages to the present, illuminating the natural, social and political history of one of America's most beguiling but least understood patches of land.

The Everglades was America's last frontier, a wild country long after the West was won. Grunwald chronicles how a series of visionaries tried to drain and "reclaim" it, and how Mother Nature refused to bend to their will; in the most harrowing tale, a 1928 hurricane drowned 2,500 people in the Everglades. But the Army Corps of Engineers finally tamed the beast with levees and canals, converting half the Everglades into sprawling suburbs and sugar plantations. And though the southern Everglades was preserved as a national park, it soon deteriorated into an ecological mess. The River of Grass stopped flowing, and 90 percent of its wading birds vanished.

Now America wants its swamp back. Grunwald shows how a new breed of visionaries transformed Everglades politics, producing the $8 billion rescue plan. That plan is already the blueprint for a new worldwide era of ecosystem restoration. And this book is a cautionary tale for that era. Through gripping narrative and dogged reporting, Grunwald shows how the Everglades is still threatened by the same hubris, greed and well-intentioned folly that led to its decline.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416537274
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 10/31/2006
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 233,904
File size: 901 KB

About the Author

Michael Grunwald, a Time senior correspondent, has won the George Polk Award for national reporting, the Worth Bingham Award for investigative reporting, and many other prizes. The Washington Post called the first book, The Swamp, “a brilliant work of research and reportage.” He lives in Florida.

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The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book. Very comprehensive and covers the history of Florida, the politics surrounding the Everglades and the history of the Everglades itself. I thought the book would be dry, but it was so well written with so many interesting anecdotes, that I found it very easy to read. Every Floridian, every person who loves Florida, and anyone who cares about the environment should read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's hard to critic a book that you genuinely enjoyed reading. I can only find positive things to say about his writing and research. Grunwald gives an unbiased report. I never heard his opinion, but he did make it obvious. This is not a book saying that the Everglades do not need to be restored, or that we did not wreck the natural beauty. It's all cold hard fact. He presented the history of the Everglades like a storybook. He starts off at the beginning, the most important part. We cannot begin to learn of what happened to the Everglades without first knowing what it used to be. The detailed history gives the most important vision of all the things that once lived in this gorgeous ecosystem. Every important character is explained and described. Unlike most books, you could see the tale as you read the book. When he described Seminole Osceola, it was like I was looking at a picture of him.  He quotes diaries of discoverers and of the others outsiders who first set foot on this “wasteland”. While hunting Seminole Indians, a US soldier in the nineteenth century wrote, “it seems like a vast sea, filled with grass and green trees” (pg. 9). While not the most descriptive of the many quotes, it gives us the idea of what once used to be. This “wild and lonely” place has been picked and poked at for more than a century. “It's being made susceptible of cultivation – and instead of being, as now, a waster of waters, fit only for the resort of reptiles – would be a happy epoch for Florida,” said US Army General William Harney (pg. 54). Grunwald gives the “story of water’s journey and man’s effort to reroute it.” Through the eyes of an outsider, we're given an inside look of all the developers and politicians that made the swamp what it is today.   He made connections that were easy to understand. Comparing the Seminole War(s) to the guerilla warfare of Vietnam, he made this history relatable. We have seen videos and many pictures of Vietnam, but not of the lesser known Seminole Wars. He also gave such a great background on many of the main contributors to the history of the Everglades. It was fascinating to know how these people came into the position they were in. Reading a lot of text can be difficult, even if it is well written. Grunwald included  eighteen pages of black and white photos and seven maps, giving the reader a reference to physically look at.Even though his words were as descriptive as the pictures, it gave the reader a full vision of not only the landscape, but the people involved.  This book is a great read, not just for the information but in general. I would have never guessed I would want to read a book about the Everglades, but my mind has been changed. Not only has it given me a new outlook on the environment of south Florida, but I also have learned the reason that my Florida State sweatshirt says “Seminoles” on it, and who their mascot is. Being an Environmental Studies minor, I catch myself referencing this book for other classes as well. Not only did it completely engulf me in it's history, it taught me the importance of preservation and how hard it is to try to fix a mess that we have made in the environment. I have never been to the Everglades, let alone learned anything about them. With the perfect mix of environmentalism and politics, I now know what a treasure they are. 
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NaturegirlGM More than 1 year ago
Michael Grunwald's background as a journalist serves him well. The book is filled with accounts of humans' efforts to control the Everglades that will stay with readers for a very long time--the foibles and oddities of politicians, environmentalists, bureaucrats, developers, Indians and European settlers. Along the way, we learn a great deal about the geology and ecology of The Swamp (actually a marsh, according to the book).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book will read it again