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Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean Paperback – August 5, 2003
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Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is a well-researched and documented history of an exciting time in the exploration and development of Florida that reads like a novel.
Building a railroad over 150 miles of water under the harshest of conditions was the vision of one man, Henry Flagler. Mr. Flagler used his personal fortune to make this dream come true.
When he first arrived in Florida he was the second wealthiest man in the country. His fortune was made in partnership with John Rockefeller and the creation of Standard Oil.
The ingenuity necessary to accomplish this task is absolutely incredible. The obstacles overcome included the brutal weather (heat and hurricanes), having to import every item from drinking water to food to nails.
As I read the story I found the task more impossible with each accomplishment along the way. The closer they got to their objective, the more unattainable I thought the goal was. They truly did the impossible.
That Mr. Flagler and his crew succeeded is a testament to the pioneer spirit of America.
Dr. Standiford has written a fast paced book. He is a wonderful story teller. It is where truth and fact is so improbable, that one could not make up a superior fictional account.
The photographs are a wonderful addition.
With all the scandals in business today, it is enlightening to read the story of a man who put his reputation and own money on the line for what he believed in.
As Dr. Standiford said: "Henry Flagler evolved from acquisitive robber baron to creator."
Henry Flagler may not have discovered Florida, but he saw all the state's possibilities and created the framework and infrastructure that made Florida livable.
Standiford weaves together Flagler, Rockefeller, their arch-rival trust-busting Teddy Roosevelt, WWI bonus armies, and big-game hunting author Ernest Hemingway. While Rockefeller also owned vacation homes in Florida, he and Flagler ultimately had a parting of the ways, with Rockefeller pointedly not attending Flagler's funeral. Flagler had been an early supporter of Roosevelt in his successful bid for the New York governorship after Roosevelt's success in the brief Spanish American war. Later Roosevelt brought antitrust action against Standard Oil and at least in Flagler's mind was behind government resistance to his plan to build a deep water harbor in Miami. Ironically, the US victory in the Spanish American War, together with confirmed plans to build the Panama Canal, were the motiviation for Flagler's railroad adventures, as Flagler projected, incorrectly as it turned out, that Miami and Key West would grow in stature as ports.
The final thread introduces Hemingway into the mix. The author was already a well-known Key Wester when the hurricane of Labor Day 1935 ravaged the Keys.Read more ›
Henry Flagler, who made his fortune as Rockefeller's early partner at Standard Oil, spent that fortune as the pioneering developer of the East Coast of Florida. One of the most fascinating things you learn in this book is just how late in US history the development of Florida came about. As recently as the 1890s, Miami was just a small outpost called Fort Dallas that was reachable only by a trip of train, then boat, then horse-drawn carriage. In the 1890s!
At the same time, Key West was the most populous city in Florida with 20,000 inhabitants and a thriving economy. Flagler imagined that Key West would become the most important deep-water port on the East Coast with the completion of the Panama Canal and that his railroad would carry all of that freight to the continental US. It never happened, and by the time contruction was halfway done Flagler knew it was incredibly unlikely, but by that time he was committed to "ride his own steel to Key West before he died."
All of that is part and parcel to this story of man against nature in a manner that just can't happen in today's era of heightened environmental awareness (I guess we shouldn't block the flow of the Gulf Stream after all). In the end, all is undone by the biggest Gulf storm in recorded history, the Labor Day storm of 1935.
A great read for any fan of history or anyone who is interested in the Keys or Florida.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was a good autobiography of an interesting view I have seen several times already.It gave me me more insight as to what really happened to the railPublished 7 days ago by Susan Hendershot
I've literally inhaled this book. It's so vivid and exciting and yet so sad. I read it while traveling the keys and saw them in a whole new light.Published 13 days ago by Kevin Miller
Read the book in FLORIDA. Enjoyed book so much I wanted to add it to my collection.Published 16 days ago by John M. Tighe
Fascinating story about one man's influence on the development of Florida.Published 26 days ago by Katherine
A very well written book on the building of the rail line to Key West and it's aftermath. Good detail, but not an overdose of it.Published 1 month ago by Edward O. Wolcott
I would highly recommend this book if you enjoy historically-accurate reading. Very well written!Published 1 month ago by Terry A