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The Rise and Decline of the Redneck Riviera: An Insider's History of the Florida-Alabama Coast Paperback – March 1, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

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"Hardy Jackson writes about the Redneck Riviera with an insight and love that makes you want to travel back in time and stick your toes in the sands of its history. He makes you want to splash in the water when it was still clear, and sway in a hammock before condominiums eclipsed the sky. He makes you want to shake hands with the pirates and reprobates who once roamed here, in a time when it was apparently perfectly legal to shoot your ex-wife as long as you warned her not to come within shooting range. This is more than a history of a place and its brushes with disaster—the BP spill—and its changing social landscape. It is a story of a coast and a man's relationship with it. Those of us who have stared into that blue-green water have waited on this book for a long time."—Rick Bragg, author of The Prince of Frogtown


"This is a splendid social history, and Hardy Jackson, a native son of the coastal South, was born to write it. His witty prose combines the rigor of the trained scholar, the sharp eye of a journalist, and the unsentimental affection of a skilled memoirist. The result is the best guide yet to a geographic region that is also a cultural state of mind. I had as much fun reading it as I had on my first trip to Panama City Beach circa 1948."—Howell Raines, author of My Soul Is Rested


"Harvey Jackson’s Redneck Riviera is pure delight. From the Gilded Age resort hotels and the first mom 'n' pop motels, to Spring Break, mullet-tossing contests, and the 2010 Gulf oil spill, Jackson chronicles the booms and busts that have shaped his beloved Gulf Coast. He has the keen detachment of a historian and the passion of someone who cares deeply about sand dunes and honky-tonk bars."—Gary R. Mormino, Frank E. Duckwall professor of Florida history, University of South Florida St. Petersburg


"Even if you're not a redneck, you will want to go to the Alabama coastline when you read Harvey H. Jacksons III's new book, The Rise and Decline of the Redneck Riviera. . . . If there was ever a person that could tell the personal and historical story of the Redneck Riviera, it's Jackson, Eminent Scholar in History at Jacksonville State University."—Theresa Shadrix, The Jacksonville News


"Whether or not you have an attachment to the Gulf Coast, you'll find much that is interesting and entertaining in The Rise and Decline of the Redneck Riviera. . . . Mr. Jackson's personal perspective enhances rather than interferes with his analysis, and his lucid, often pithy writing makes this book an engaging read."—Ray Hartwell, The Washington Times


"Reared in Clarke County, Ala., chasing 'submarines and alligators' along the Alabama River and whiling summers away on the Florida Panhandle, Jackson is as far from a tweedy academic as it is possible to imagine. He looks good in shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops, glories in offshore fishing, and loves the Flora-Bama with a passion to match that of any bubba. And, man, can he write. If after finishing this beer-soaked and sand-whipped tour de force you don't find yourself heading to the beach, check your pulse."—John Sledge, Mobile Press-Register


"Hardy Jackson brings to this job all the right tools. . . . [H]e can personalize history, narrate history in a highly readable fashion and commit sociology in the best possible way, from personal experience and keen observation. . . . It is all here. Some chapters generate nostalgia, some anger, fear and loathing. All chapters can educate us and make readers think about what they value most..."—Don Noble, Alabama Public Radio


"The most endangered species native to Florida's Panhandle and Alabama's Gulf Coast might just be the redneck. . . . The Rise and Decline of the Redneck Riviera is a fun romp through a place that has long been dedicated to fun but it also dips its toes into the cultural conflicts the region has experienced--a bit history, a bit social commentary and a good read."—Susannah Nesmith, Miami Herald

Book Description

How a southern coastline became an iconic tourist attraction

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (March 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820345318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820345314
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #647,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ted M. Dunagan on May 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Harvey H Jackson's Rise and Decline of the Redneck Riviera is not about the decline of the Gulf Coast of AL and FL, as far as the number of people living or visiting there, nor the lack of businesses, high-rise condo's and new homes. It's about the decline of the availability of it to the working man and his family as a place to do the things they couldn't back home.
Written with wit, clarity and accuracy, the book takes you back to all those special places which mostly are gone now. It tickles your memories to the point you almost feel the soft breeze and taste the salty air of the Gulf once again. It also documnets the economic and natural disasters of the area, and how it always recovered, from the 1930's right on up to the BP oil spill.
It's about how the newly arrived, the "raffish Rotarians, pirates with cash register eyeballs and hard-handed matrons" do not desire anyone to come there anymore and "run amok, act noxious and make offensive noises."
In 1960 I could do all those things, sleep on the beach and only be awakened in the morning by the bugs. Try that today and you'll be sleeping somewhere much less desirable than the beach.
For all the changes, good and bad, the author lets us know there are a few remnants of redneckery still hanging on down there. My favorite is still right there on the AL and Fl state line, the Florabama Bar, where they still toss mullets, play trashy white music, serve up refreshments, and where the ladies still leave their bras hanging from the rafters.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By T. Barksdale on November 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I heartily recommend Harvey Jackson's book for anyone wanting to know the history of one of America's unique regions. I grew up in south Georgia and have been a regular visitor to the Redneck Riviera all my life. Jackson covers it all--the honky tonks and cheap tourist attractions right next to gated beach communities, average families on quiet vacations sharing space with drunken louts and ribald collegians on spring break. In the background, politicians and developers milking the beach cow for all it was worth, and the environment be damned. And enough colorful characters to keep anyone enthralled.

I sometimes felt that Jackson got too mired in details about what was being built at any one time. Also, like just about every book I read dealing with geography, the lack of maps--or even one detailed map--was appalling, a real drawback. This was a real gap in a book where discussion of specific towns and locations is what it's all about. Even better would have been maps or graphics showing specific developments. Before and after photos would have been a show stopper. I don't know whether my Kindle edition may lack visuals from the printed version.

But the book is overall a great read and evokes tons of nostalgia for those of us who were there almost from the beginning.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. McCranie on January 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I live in the FL panhandle but only since the last 3 years so I was interested in the history of the area which this book tells. I enjoyed the book but I found that the author tended to repeat himself often in different chapters saying the same thing over and over again. There was not a strong logical flow other than time progressed somewhat coherently through the book (ending with the aftermath of the BP oil spill). It was still interesting to read and I learned some interesting stories about the area where I live that I otherwise would never have known. This book could have earned 4 or 5 stars if it wasnt for some of the author's poor organization of the book and him repeating some parts over and over.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Brown on July 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hardy Jackson's easy, breezy style is perfect to convey the ebbs and flows of this well-named section of the Alabama-Florida coast. In fact, I can't imagine anyone more able, personally and professionally, to chronicle that storied strip. His family has owned a place there nearly forever, and he is preserving the family tradition. He has experienced and observed the shifting
fortunes of that part of the panhandle through happy and hard times (not mutually exclusive) for many decades. The reader can delight in descriptions of upcountry vacationers, hurricanes, boom-then-bust developers, municipal posturings, state spats, environmental issues, genuinely phony roadhouses, and striving parvenus. As a well-trained historian, Jackson knows how to find and test information, and, more importantly, how to set it in context. This book may provide ideas for satire, but it isn't one. Jackson holds back from snap judgments and preachments, and his writings convey an amusement, even an affection, for a place he's earned the right to criticize. And when he does, it sticks. The result is an entertaining, engaging history, useful beyond its subject as an example of what the public needs more of. The University of Georgia Press is to be thanked for publishing such a book. Historians are famous for being dull and ponderous and rarely conveying humility. Hardy Jackson can hold his own with those heavyweight academics, but, what the hell, he doesn't need to. Besides, the sun is shining down there. The beer and the sweet tea are cold. The children are playing in the sand while the wife is reading Southern Living and Grandma is shelling butterbeans. And the dad, well, he's startin' to feel lazy as hell, and projecting, and remembering.
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