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The Florida Keys: A History of the Pioneers Hardcover – March 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 154 pages
  • Publisher: Pineapple Press; 1st edition (March 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561641014
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561641017
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,012,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Viele writes a monthly column on Keys history for the Island Navigator newspaper, and his articles have also appeared in Florida Keys Magazine and Tequesta, the journal of the Historical Association of Southern Florida. He served as history editor for a resource textbook on the history and environment of the Florida Keys prepared for Monroe County public school teachers, and is a frequent lecturer on Keys history.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 13 customer reviews
I look forward to the next two books!
Sue
I am a frequent visitor to the keys and found the stories enlightning due to my knowledge of the area.
steven m rossi
I haven't read the entire book yet, however so far it is great.
Lippy Hudson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book in Key West after looking for a decent overview of the history of the Florida Keys. This is the best that I've found so far.
The book works through a specific era, starting with general information about the time, and ending each chapter with one or two stories about a specific resident of the Keys. These stories are what make the book truly interesting. Each chapter has a small map indicating the notable Keys of the period.
The book covers the time span from pre-European settlement to just before World War II. Viele goes into detail about the wrecking industry, sponging, and farming of the Keys. The details of Flagler's railroad and the Overseas Highway are well covered, but perhaps not as well as some of the books dedicated to these subjects.
There are good black and white illustrations and historical photos throughout.
My only complaint is that the book stops before WWII, leaving many years left to be covered.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bookalicious on January 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am not much of a one for factual books, as I like to be told a great story, and not have to look for it amongst the facts. I can't help it, it's just the way I'm made! I was delightfully surprised with Mr Viele's work. He is a natural storyteller, the best gift of all writers. The real life tales of early settlers in the Florida Keys, before and during the days of the railroad, are absolutely fascinating. I found myself as engrossed as if I was reading a thriller, drama, detective novel...I know, I sound so shallow! I had the great honor of meeting Mr Viele, and was thrilled to hear about how the book happened and evolved. The depth of research that apparently went into uncovering the events in the lives of the Keys Pioneers, is I think what makes me feel like I am being told stories from the heart. As a Keys resident deeply interested in the history of this unique place, I tried many other books first, but this is the one to read, to REALLY experience the Keys as it must have been, when the first strong and sometimes eccentric Pioneers chose to brave remote island living, extreme heat, mosquitos and hurricanes, Pioneers whose names can be found all over the Keys to this day, where streets, waterways and buildings are dedicated to their memory.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By steven m rossi on February 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up at Bahia Honda State Park in the Keys out of curiousity and could not put it down. I am a frequent visitor to the keys and found the stories enlightning due to my knowledge of the area. Good illustrations and facts about the area. I look forward to reading the next two in the series. This book will inform you about the conditions and ways of life in the Keys in the early days. You will also start to recognize landmarks and features named after people in this book. A good read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dianne F. Salafia on November 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
got this book for my dad, he really enjoyed it and it arrived promptly. thank you.
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Format: Hardcover
John Viele has done a wonderful bit of research with this. Do not expect a dry history filled with basic statistics, dates and, numbers. Viele tells a series of stories that span the early years up to the 20th century. These stories focus on the lives of individuals and give you a true feeling of what different times and Keys were like through the last few hundred years.
Recommend this book if you are interested in the keys!
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Format: Hardcover
Florida is the third most populous state but there are still areas where you can drive for mile after mile without seeing any evidence of human presence except the pavement under your wheels. It is hard to imagine how empty it was a hundred years ago, when Key West, then the biggest city, had 18,000 inhabitants -- fewer than come to one section of one parking lot at Disney World on one morning.

John Viele does a good job of recreating the hardship and emptiness of the Keys in these magazine-style articles. The focus is on the rural islands, where repeated booms (sponges, pineapples) were wiped out by repeated disasters (wars, hurricanes).

Even at the peak of the booms, the entire population seldom topped a thousand until the railroad came, and in the busts it dropped to a few score. Some islands were empty.

Heat, mosquitoes, loneliness, isolation and lack of fresh water made the keys unattractive but there were always a few hopeful adventurers. Some were murdered, some swept away in storms, some became briefly rich and ultimately broke, and Viele quotes liberally from letters and newspapers (ever hopeful that the latest fancy was going to begin the land rush) to tell their stories.

This little volume carries the story to 1940, although one old character was still building ricks and making charcoal in the ancient way until 1960.

“The Florida Keys: A History of the Pioneers” is a superior example of local history crafted in bite-size pieces, just the right size for the rushed vacationer to enjoy and profit from.

(There is one curious error about the "poisonous spines on the pineapple leaves." They are unpleasant but not poisonous.)
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By 386 Senior on January 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being a native Floridian and 70 years old, I already know a lot about our state due to constant traveling with my job. This was an excellent, well versed and well written book from start to finish. They even picked up several facts that only a local would know about the different islands on the way to Key West. I would recommend this book to any and everyone that wanted to know the true historical facts about these wonderful little outfalls of land in our beautiful and glorious state.
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