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America's Fortress: A History of Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas, Florida (Florida History and Culture) Hardcover – December 31, 2006


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Product Details

  • Series: Florida History and Culture
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida; 1st edition (December 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813030196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813030197
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #510,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"America's Fortress offers a compelling narrative of the people who envisioned, constructed, and garrisoned this important military installation . . . Reid brings to life the human experience of the fort that pulsated inside the enduring walls of brick and mortar." -- Peter S. Carmichael

Book Description

America’s Fortress offers a compelling narrative of the people who envisioned, constructed, and garrisoned this important military installation . . . Reid brings to life the human experience of the fort that pulsated inside the enduring walls of brick and mortar.”—Peter S. Carmichael, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, author of The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion
 
Known as the “American Gibraltar,” Fort Jefferson, located in the Dry Tortugas, Florida, was the most heavily armed coastal defense fort in United States history. Perceived as the nation’s leading maximum-security prison, the fort also held several of the accused conspirators in the Lincoln assassination. America’s Fortress is the first book-length, architectural, military, environmental, and political history of this strange and significant Florida landmark.
            This volume also fills a significant gap in Civil War history with regard to coastal defense strategy, support of the Confederacy blockade, the use of convicted Union soldiers as forced labor, and the treatment of civilian prisoners sentenced by military tribunals. Reid argues that Fort Jefferson’s troops faced very different threats and challenges than soldiers who served elsewhere during the war. He chronicles threats of epidemic tropical disease, hurricanes, shipwrecks, prisoner escapes, and Confederate attack. Reid also reports on white northerners’ perceptions of slaves, slavery, and the emerging free black soldiers of the latter years of the war. Drawing on the writings of Emily Holder, wife of Fort Jefferson’s resident surgeon, Reid is the first to offer a female perspective on life at the fort between 1859 and 1865.
            For history buffs and tourists, America's Fortress offers a fascinating account of this little-known outpost which has stood for over 150 years off the tip of the Florida Keys.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Chris Sterling on January 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most readers will never get out to Fort Jefferson in the Gulf of Mexico--and they are missing something. One of the largest brick fortresses in the world, this is both a peaceful and perplexing place today. The author tells the complex story well up to and through the Civil War, but shortchanges the years since. I wanted to know more about how the military used the place through the Spanish-American War (when it was a naval coaling station) and the preservation efforts of the National Park Service in the decades since. But that "after" story is treated in only a few paragraphs. Still, as one who has flown out to the fort's lonely perch in the Dry Tortugas and spent most of a day wandering around and in the place, this book provides a solid history of Fort Jefferson's development and many of the fascinating people who passed through.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Curt A. Schultzberg on September 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered this book after a trip to the Dry Tortugas. Fort Jefferson is really a very interesting place. Hot as hell and desolate beyond belief, the island where the fort is located provides snorkeling that is utterly fantastic. The guided tour of the fort was fascinating and was described as "the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere". Who am I to argue? Besides, it's truly immense. If you're a history buff and plan on visiting (or have visited), then you will find this a fairly compelling read.
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Format: Hardcover
This fine history of a concise subject is recommended by The Society of Independent Southern Historians. To see other works recommended by the Society go to southernhistorians.org.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My son and I enjoyed reading excerpts from this book while camping at Dry Tortugas National Park. We really enjoyed walking around and touring Fort Jefferson with the book in-hand. It was fun knowing more details regarding the history and construction of the fort. Definitely recommend this book to those traveling to the fort who enjoy knowing more than what's nornally provided during the regular tour.
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