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The Sunshine Economy: An Economic History of Florida since the Civil War 1st Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0813032016
ISBN-10: 0813032016
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An authoritative, remarkably researched, insightful, and enjoyable economic history of Florida. Anyone seeking to understand where Florida is going will profit from reading this account of the state's path to the twenty-first century." - David Denslow, University of Florida"

Book Description

"An authoritative, remarkably researched, insightful, and enjoyable economic history of Florida. Anyone seeking to understand where Florida is going will profit from reading this account of the state's path to the twenty-first century."--David Denslow, University of Florida

Before the Civil War, Florida's population hovered around 200,000. Over the next century, it increased dramatically, rising to just under three million by 1950. During the next fifty years, however, it exploded, increasing more than 500 percent to almost sixteen million. By the end of the twentieth century, the state had one of the nation's largest economies.
 
The Sunshine Economy traces the development of the industries that spurred this major growth. It describes how Florida progressed from being one of the least populated states in the country, with an economy based on forestry products and open-range cattle farming, to the fourth most populated state, with an economy based on sunshine, tourism, retirement, citrus, and vegetables.
 
William Stronge draws on the vast amount of statistical information available on Florida to tell the history of the remarkable transformation of the state's economy. His work is essential in understanding how Florida became a major national economic force. His insights highlight the significance of the tremendous reduction in transportation costs in driving much of the state's economic development. His perspectives also enrich our understanding of Florida's experiences during the Great Depression and the rampant inflation of the 1970s.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida; 1st edition (May 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813032016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813032016
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,131,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Stronge traces the development of Florida's economy from the late 1800s, when it was the most isolated and poor of all the Southern states, to its explosion into an economic powerhouse in the half-century after WWII. He divides the economy into four sectors: Traditional southern agriculture (cotton, sugarcane, and tobacco); the "frontier" industries (lumber, cattle, phosphate); the maritime industries (fishing, the military); and the "Sunshine" sector which sprang from Florida's felicitous climate. The frontier industries dominated Florida in 1900; Sunshine, which includes tourism, retirement, and citrus production, is what has driven the state's incredible development ever since.

The study is tightly focused, delving into social and political factors (such as the development of the state's railway system, or the 1959 Cuban Revolution) only insofar as they have impacted the state's economic development. This book may be a bit dry for the casual reader but was incredibly helpful to me as a researcher. Although the book does not delve into the Great Recession, Stronge's detailed study of past booms and busts will help you understand why and how the recent crisis has so profoundly impacted Florida. Discussing the bursting of another land bubble in the 1920s, Stronge writes:

"The boom was actually another example of a fever, a period of intense investment after the discovery of a new way of making money, as had occurred in the state's orange, tobacco, and phosphate markets toward the end of the nineteenth century. Fevers inevitably led to overinvestment, followed a collapse of prices and a retrenchment of the industry." This translation of complex trends into clean, simple prose is typical of the entire book.

Some things never change.
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