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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2014
The very first line in the first reprinted newspaper column made me laugh. THAT was a first for me. There are plenty of funny, acerbic, sarcastic lines peppered throughout this collection of columns. However, the constant barrage of examples showing politicians, unsavory businesspeople, and Floridians in a negative light eventually overwhelmed me. The former Jim Crow state may now be a huge tourist destination and Disney Mecca, but the place is still marinating in a swamp's worth of conservative politics and unethical shenanigans.

Mr. Hiaasen's pieces have the feel of the late, great Chicago columnist Mike Royko (1932-1997.) Also like Mr. Royko, Mr. Hiaasen was born, raised and has lived his entire life in the state he very much loves. The dude is seriously pissed at witnessing the out-of-control growth, the rampant pollution, the horrific crimes and plethora of low-wage service jobs to support tourism as well as residential development. There are a healthy dose of pieces which focus on Florida, but national issues are also given attention. Some of the topics covered are the Terri Schiavo fiasco, Guantanamo, the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, Haitian refugees, Catholic sex abuse, Presidents Bush and Obama as well as Vice-President Cheney, illegal farm workers, George Zimmerman & Trayvon Martin, the NRA, the Iraq War, Florida's stand-your-ground law and the superficial media.

After reading a few columns, it doesn't take an Albert Einstein to realize Mr. Hiaasen is a unabashed liberal with major axes to grind. Most of his material is sarcastic in tone but supported by valid facts. I found only a few of the columns to be mediocre. Overall, the book is an educational and entertaining collection of pieces which were originally published from 2001 through 2012. I was surprised that many of the low-rating reviews for 'Dance of the Reptiles' were because readers didn't realize it was a collection of newspaper columns. Heck, people, it says "selected columns" on the front AND Miami Herald columns on the back cover. Maybe reading material about politics and social issues was above their ken. As for me, I enjoyed it.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
The author is a widely read columnist for the notoriously liberal Miami Herald. Fittingly, liberals will love this book ... conservatives not so much. The huge political divide in America is the real tragedy. If we could only put politics aside and read more books like this for the wit, humor and parody of modern America that it represents, the nation might be in a better place. Put your ideology aside and try reading this book ... you may well be in store for an enjoyable expedition in tweaking the foibles of living in our contemporary world.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2014
I have been a Hiaasen fan since I bought the first edition of his first novel, "Tourist Season." I have all of his essay collections (Miami "Herald" columns, actually) plus "Team Rodent" (about the Disney empire). Why am I not more enthusiastic about a collection of what is, effectively, more of the same? Because, after all these years, his subject matter has become profoundly depressing. We have come to the point where he writes about a government (especially in his home state) that doesn't even pretend to care. So you will read about inconceivable atrocities that would be funny if they weren't true, or if you had any sense anything would actually happen to the people who perpetrate them. As a Floridian long past middle age, I think I figured it out. My generation knows what has been lost, but the succeeding ones never knew much better than what they have now. So I'm left to wonder, like poor old Bob Dole, "Where's the outrage?"
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
If you ever wondered where Carl Hiaasen thinks up the wonderfully weird people and events in his novels, the answer is here. He doesn't have to think them up; he can read about them in the paper. And then write about them in his weekly opinion column in the Miami Herald. This book is a selections of his columns written between 2001 and 2012. Some of them are dated, a couple of them are mean spirited, many will make you angry, and most will make you hurt with laughter.

It may not be true that these things could happen only in Florida as Hiaasen claims, but .... where else would tourists be offered (and pay good money for) scuba expeditions to hand feed sharks? He also describes the Florida Legislature's response to the case of a man who allegedly kidnapped a neighbor's pet goat and then accidentally strangled it during a carnal act. Then there is the "Nude Face-Eating Cannibal" who, he says, could only exist in Miami.

However, most of the articles are not about tabloid-style events. Hiaasen has principles. He is angry about threats to Florida's environment. He is angry about government corruption. He is angry about the NRA (although not about gun owners in general), about immigration policy, about greed, and hypocrisy, and ignorance, and the Bush administration. He is also in love, in love with his native state of Florida, and is an effective advocate for it. You can be chuckling one moment and wanting to tear out your hair the next.

Certainly, this collection will appeal most to people with similar viewpoints. Those who just want to laugh should be warned that a majority of the pieces have political content.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I am not a regular reader of the Miami Herald, so I don’t read Carl Hiaasen’s weekly column in that paper. When a collection of those columns like the latest titled, Dance of the Reptiles, comes out, I binge read all the selected columns. I gave myself no reprieve: I read all the columns in one sitting. Hiaasen writes sharply with a point of view that leaves nothing to the imagination about where he stands. Readers who like well-written commentary, whether in agreement or disagreement with Hiaasen’s views, will find a lot to enjoy in this collection.

Rating: Four-star (I like it)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2014
YOU CAN ALWAYS GET A LAUGH FROM CARL HIAASEN. HOWEVER, I AM A SNOBIRD IN FLORIDA, AND, IN MY OPINION, FLORIDA POLITICS NEVER CEASES TO AMAZE ME IN HOW THE LEGISLATIVE CAN BE BOUGHT BY THE HIGHEST BIDDER. THE LEGISLATURE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT HOW THEIR LAWS AND ATITUDES AFFECT THE STATE IN THE LONG RUN. THIS IS AN EYE OPENING LOOK INTO FLORIDA POLTICS.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I have read most of Carl Hiassen's books. This is good, but not really very entertaining....not that I had that expectation.

I lived, as a child, in Florida from 1959-1967. It is painful to view how my childhood places to wander, whether on the beach or in the backwoods is gone...ruined. Very sad.

This book confirms the reasons why the expansion post-Disney is an example of how NOT to develop areas with natural beauty.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2014
As a big fan of his Miami Herald column, it's nice to be able to go back and re-read some of his best; and also to read a few that I missed over the years. If you live in South Florida, you know that this man speaks the truth, as only someone living in SoFla-DUH can deliver. Flori-DUH isn't quite the Paradise we'd hoped it could be, again!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2014
In this compilation of newspaper articles Carl Hiaasen tells it like it really is in a state where, as he says, "greed always tops common sense." I highlighted almost the entire book for reference. A non-resident will also enjoy this read by a wicked satirist; it's human nature at its best, or is that worst? Please read, you will definitely enjoy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2014
It's Hiaasen's latest. One of my favorite authors. What humor for Florida. Always good for a laugh by us who live in Florida. Thanks for another great read.
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