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Miami Babylon: Crime, Wealth, and Power--A Dispatch from the Beach Hardcover – October 13, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Miami Beach proves a multilayered topic for Posner: investigative journalist, bestselling author (Case Closed) and denizen of America's most decadent city. Posner examines how Miami Beach turned from a quiet resort into the interconnecting site of crime, finance and politics (which one mayor described as a blood sport). The author gives a penetrating look at the sun-drenched history of South Florida, the swampland and scoundrels, rumrunners and smugglers in speedboats from Prohibition on, a major military training center during WWII and the glitzy playground of mobsters. The book comes alive from the start with an account of South Florida overwhelmed in 1980 by the influx of 125,000 Cuban refugees, followed by gritty segments on the coke wars, South Beach fun and frolic, the gay glam party life and the revitalization of key areas of the Beach. Corruption in City Hall and immoral real estate moguls conclude this thoroughly entertaining analysis of one of the original American pleasure domes and the good times that continue to roll. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Oct. 13)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
[Audio Review] Gerald Posner s history of Florida starts with the Mariel boat lift of 1980, a diaspora of Cubans seeking asylum in the U.S. Those 125,000 refugees changed the state s culture forever and may have cast the deciding votes that brought victory to George W. Bush in 2000. The author focuses on the roots of crime and power in the state, going back over a century to discover their raison d être. Narrator Alan Sklar s baritone voice does not fade into the background as those of more taciturn readers, but his control of the language allows him to master the story in every savory and unsavory detail. For such a long audiobook, he selects just the right rhythm to keep the delivery fresh and captivating. J.A.H. © AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine --AudioFile --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The book is largely a chronological narrative of the growth and development of Miami Beach from unwanted swampland to Art Deco center to drug/crime capitol to the glitz of a celebrity Disneylandish playground. Considerable detail is presented of the shenanigans, the visionaries, the predators, and the significant players in South Beach's development, especially over the last 40 years. Read of the poltical infighting and back-stabbing that has been a staple of its development; the cocaine and drug wars; the misery brought with the Marielito Boatlift of 1981 that ultimately changed the face of Miami forever; and experience the battles between expansionist developers vs. historical preservationists, Jewish retirees vs. Cuban refugees, and art/culture vs. glitzy nightclubs and towering apartment buildings.
Ultimately, "Miami Babylon" is a well researched resource on the history and development of Miami Beach with special focus on the speculative land development, economic bubble growth, and inevitable crash of both the 1920's and the 2000's. The South Beach of today is a far cry from its humble beginings but it is also a far cry from the Miami Vice/cigarette boat craze of the 1970's. If a reader is searching for the history, the drive, and the soul of a big time American city, "Miami Babylon" should be a must read.