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Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State Hardcover – March 5, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First Edition edition (March 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802120768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802120762
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #400,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Allman’s engaging, eye-opening, and heavily researched history of Florida spans half a milllennium, from the myth of Ponce de León’s Fountain of Youth to the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and it is a fulsome cavalcade of would-be conquistadors, epically corrupt and racist politicans, and oligarch-wannabes. Allman argues that these individuals’ ideas about Florida were wildly wrong. Ponce was looking for gold in a state devoid of metals; even Presidents Jefferson, Monroe, and Madison schemed to control Florida only to learn that the place had no resources. Florida only consumes resources. “People were constantly ruining Florida; Florida ruined them right back,” he writes. The Seminole Wars, the Civil War, various massacres, Reconstruction, a second Reconstruction, Disney World, the Marielitos, voter suppression—it’s all here, and even Carl Hiaasen couldn’t make it up. This is history for the intelligent generalist, and Allman writes with style, passion, and real outrage at Florida’s odious political history. Readers will be struck by his conclusion that much of America—as Florida has long done—is abandoning verifiable facts for beliefs that are often utter nonsense. But, hey, it was sunny and 80 degrees in Florida today. --Thomas Gaughan

From Bookforum

Finding Florida is an immense and important work, an overdue survey and indictment of the Sunshine State — and the way Americans increasingly live now. —Maud Newton

Customer Reviews

I enjoyed the book as it was well written and a good read.
east coast km
There is too much missing and there are too many of the author's own opinions.
Unfortunately you can't ignore the obvious bias and enjoy the book.
G. Kishegyi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 48 people found the following review helpful By John Williamson TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'll sum up my feelings on this book in three words for those who scan reviews looking for some assessment: depressing, demoralizing and disheartening.

It's quite clear that native Floridian and author T.D. Allman did extensive research in his new book Finding Florida, but for this reader, a former Florida resident for many years, it's apparent that there should have been some fact checking done before publication. Mr. Allman is well-educated author and an accomplished journalist, with years of experience under his belt, and should be quite experienced with the checking of facts.

The book starts off well, and his Prologue kicks the theme off well, with somewhat snarky mentions of Florida's unique geography, the search for gold by Spanish explorers, sinkholes, alligators and palmetto bugs (referred to as "Floridaese for giant flying cockroaches"), which made this former resident smile, as many of us had poked jibes at these for many years. Then there was this passage:

"Florida is the Play-Doh State. Take the goo; mold it to your dream. Then watch the dream ooze back into goo. People are constantly ruining Florida; Florida is constantly ruining them back."

Will admit that I laughed at this and a few more descriptions... until I reached page viii, where part of a sentence jumped out at me: "Florida lacks alluvial soil..." This statement jolted me, remembering back to junior high in Florida when I received a verbal smack down from a teacher for missing the word in a quiz. Florida has no alluvial soil? It's mentioned in Hollee Temple's 2006 book,
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 100 REVIEWER on April 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are many facts in this book that are interesting, such as Florida is the only state with no metals and then when you think you know it all, T.D. Allman proceeds to dispel absolutely every historical fact that you have been taught about the state and its history. It is a fact that much of what is written in history textbooks is a glorification of conquering the land and the native peoples and definitely the saying that history is written by the winners is a fact. The problem with this history is that it is written in a seemingly angry, sarcastic manner and in in a way that is completely critical of everything about the state and the federal government. The only person that comes out without criticism is Claude Pepper, who definitely had his faults too.

Absolutely everything that Allman writes concerns that fact that history has been fabricated by everyone, except him.The atmosphere in Florida is to blame the victim, whites can shoot, maim kill other races with no punishment even today. Almost every chapter brings up and compares what is happening to the admittedly little known and horrid massacre at Fort Negro. It is as if this is the only place in the world that carnages and injustice has prevailed. He constantly reminds readers that anyone who has brought fortunes to Florida has been wiped out, with the exception of Walt Disney who lied and finagled his way into skirting tax and environmental laws which every rich person in Florida gets to do. Even the poor do not complain as their access to beaches is constantly blocked so that bridges can rise to let the rich yachts sail by.

Allman seems to take pleasure in describing the blood and gore, massacres and killings. He tells how the confederate army`s fighting was not a trail of glory but of blood, pus and vomit.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By R. C Sheehy on June 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I had to struggle to read through this entire book hoping against hope that at some point it would turn into something decent. Instead it is nothing but tabloid stories where nothing good nor even decent came from Florida. The state was run by no one but racist demagogues who accomplished nothing of substance. They are all liars and thieves and anyone who ever set foot in Florida did so because they were either a fool or a con-artist. It is odd that nothing of any value came from Florida. No mention of the accomplishments by natives and no mention of anything good.

This book is just rubbish and I suggest you not waste any time reading it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Nancy A on December 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up thinking that I would like to read a factual, unbiased book detailing the history of my adopted home state. Boy was I wrong. I cannot in good conscience recommend this book to anyone other than fiction devotees for a variety of reasons. Where do I begin?

1. A better title for the book would be "Finding RACISM in Florida" as that is pretty much the gist of the entire book. Every single incident of racism in the state of Florida for the last 500 years bears mention in this book.

2. Other events in Florida's history are either not mentioned at all or glossed over so quickly that he may as well have not mentioned them. Witness: Hurricanes are vaguely referenced, but never by name. Hurricane Andrew which blew ashore in South Florida in 1986 as a category 5 storm, and at the time was the costliest hurricane in US history. NO MENTION. Aileen Wuornos, America's first female serial killer caught in Daytona and later executed. NO MENTION. Daytona international speedway, major Nascar event on an annual basis. NO MENTION.

3. The author claims that early explorers wandered ashore to Florida seeing nothing but the abundant greenery, and that flowers were few and far between. Yet the territory was called "La Florida" which means "the beautiful flowers." Come on, you can't have it both ways.

4. The author flat out insulted another author, Carl Hiassen, by calling him a "classic Florida loser." Oh yes, he did. (page 335).

5. He referred to the manned space programs as "failing to fulfill any scientific purpose," but I suppose that the moon missions and the construction of the International Space Station and the Hubble Telescope were just frippery?
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