Thursday, January 22, 2015
Finding Florida by T.D. Allman
Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State
by T. D. Allman
narrated by James Patrick Cronin
Audible Studios, 2013
21 hours and 8 minutes
Summary (from goodreads):
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.
So maybe Ponce de Leon didn't really discover the Fountain of Youth in St Augustine but, according to T.D. Allman, most of the other history taught in Florida classrooms is white-washed, exaggerated, or just plain myth too. Instead, Allman proposes a history rife with corruption, deception, oppression, and racism.
I found Finding Florida to be highly entertaining, but is it a definitive, comprehensive, or objective history? I'm not so sure. This book is highly subjective and, at times, downright snarky. Upon finishing, I felt like I needed to spend some time doing my own research.
For the record, Allman's book is not accepted as gospel truth within the state and The Tampa Bay Times ran a story in 2013 entitled "Finding Flaws in Finding Florida".
As many of you know, I chose to listen to this book because we are spending much of the winter in Florida this year and I know very little about the state's history. While Florida's story certainly includes racism and political/electoral misadventures, it is up to the reader to decide whether the information presented here is fact, opinion, or one long rant.
A note on the audio production:
I was not especially fond of the snarky, somewhat sarcastic, narration although it did match the overall tone of the book.