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The Everglades: River of Grass Hardcover – March 1, 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Originally published in 1947, The Everglades was one of those rare books, like Uncle Tom's Cabin and Silent Spring, to have an immediate political effect: it helped draw public attention to a vast and little-known area that South Florida developers had deemed a worthless swamp and were busily draining, damming, and remaking, and it mustered needed public support for President Harry Truman's controversial order, later that year, to protect more than 2 million acres as Everglades National Park.

Remote and seldom visited, the Everglades nonetheless had a rich human history: several Native American peoples, Spanish explorers, French and English pirates, runaway slaves, and Anglo trappers and fishermen all came to this limestone basin and made their lives among its slowly moving water and fast-growing sawgrass. It is this human history, more than the life histories of the Everglades' deer, panthers, scorpions, serpents, and alligators, that occupies most of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas's pages; even so, her lyrical if sometimes sentimental account of the area's flora and fauna makes for fine reading.

Douglas died in 1998 at the age of 107, having done more than any other one person to protect this magnificent portion of wild America. Anyone wishing to continue her good work--and to understand the Everglades' importance in the shape of things--will find great riches in her book. --Gregory McNamee


"This beautiful and bitter, sweet and savage book may be recommended not only to all residents and tourists of Florida, but to all readers concerned with American life and the great relations of man to nature."

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Pineapple Press; 50 Anv edition (March 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561641359
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561641352
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.4 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #452,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Everglades National Park is one of the country's mostfascinating wilderness areas, and is quite possibly the best place forviewing wildlife on the entire North American continent. It's amazing that such a park can exist right next to one of our biggest and fastest-growing urban areas, and in a region that draws millions of visitors every year. The fact that it exists at all in the face of so much human pressure is a testament to the efforts of Marjory Stoneman Douglas and others, and to the influence of this book.
Still, for the most part, this book is a conventional dates-and-events human history of South Florida rather than an argument for environmental protection. The environmental theme doesn't really get going until after the Civil War, well past the middle of the book, when draining the Everglades was first proposed, and it isn't until "The Eleventh Hour," the final chapter of the original edition, that the book becomes an impassioned plea for saving the wilderness. A final chapter added in 1987 brings the story into our era, continues the catalog of degradation, and makes the key point that most of the forces that threaten the Everglades flourish outside the boundaries of the National Park.
I confess that I found the historical narrative a bit dull in places, though it's hard to imagine a more colorful cast of characters than the conquistadors, pirates, hardy Native Americans, escaped slaves, adventurers, poachers, speculators and old-time politicians who all play a part in the story. Nevertheless, "River of Grass" is still the best history of South Florida, and should be on the reading list of anyone who wants something a little more substantial than the tourist guides and coffee-table fluff that dominate the shelf of books about the region.
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Format: Hardcover
That's how most of us in Florida referred to Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Long honored by the state and then by the nation a few years before she died in 1998, she was a living legend in the South Florida environmental movement. Within a few miles of where I live there's a school, a park, a long section of highway and the Biscayne Nature Center, all of which are named after this grand old lady.
And grand and old she was. One of the most amazing facts about her life is the way it seems to have paralleled the recent history of the Everglades itself. Consider this. The first real encroachment of the Everglades began in 1890 when settlers started draining the area around the Kissimmee river. This was just 10 years before Douglas was born. When she wrote THE EVERGLADES: RIVER OF GRASS in 1947 she was 57 years old. The book played a huge part in creating public awareness about the vital importance of the area and was the prime impetus for the creation of the Everglades National Park. Douglas was in fact there when Harry Truman officially opened the park in late 1947. She was still around to receive an honor from president Clinton in 1993. Most incredibly she lived to see the publishing of this - the Fiftieth Anniversary edition of her best known book - dying shortly after at the age of 108! One of the salient points to note about this edition is that it offers an added chapter by another writer titled "Coming Together" which highlights some of the recent progress being made in reversing the damage done to the Everglades watershed area. Progress which can trace it's origins back decades ago to the constant cajoling and inspiration of one Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Never has the saying "Life imitates Nature" been any truer.
Douglas's original book is in keeping with the times it was written in.
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Format: Hardcover
Last winter, I purchased River of Grass at the National Park Service's store at Shark Valley in the Everglades. It was recommended by the tour guide. I visit Miami about once a year and always hope to have the opportunity to visit the Everglades. I have known that they are a very special, spiritual place on the edge of a huge city.

However, River of Grass has helped me better understand the unique place that this wilderness holds. It is an ancient area that was the sight of much fighting, greed, and sorrow. It is one of the very few places left where the Native American people fought and, to some degree, won. This, in and of itself, is fascinating. There is a deep and ancient culture that Ms. Douglas discusses and explains with great beauty and respect.

And then there is the River itself. The Everglades have been the sight of some of the most contentious environmental battles in North America. Ms. Douglas identifies the warring parties and comes down firmly in the camp of the environmentalists. This adds a great deal of power and conviction to the book.

I strongly recommend this book if you have an interest in South Florida beyond the beaches and the tourist sights.
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Format: Hardcover
Florida, the nation, and the world owe so much to Marjory Stoneman Douglas -- if she had not taken up the cause of the Everglades, and expressed their plight in such a memorable way, the awesome and unique Glades could already be gone. This book, therefore, is not only a delightful thing to read on its own terms; it is one of the greatest examples of the power of committed literature to transmit and inspire commitment in others. Marjory Stoneman Douglas literally changed the world for the better, and continues to do so, speaking from the page to every person who looks into this wonderful book.
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