Best Local History Book (2006)

The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise by Michael Grunwald

A recent poll found that more than 70 percent of registered voters in Miami-Dade County oppose expanding the urban development boundary westward for development. While increased traffic, water shortages, and environmental protection were all good reasons to protest suburban expansion, perhaps there's a sense of cultural responsibility as well. Grunwald, a reporter for the Washington Post, shows us that stewardship is a relatively new attitude toward the River of Grass. He traces the history of the Everglades' destruction from when Spanish invaders sacked the Calusa Indians to the diminution of its annual floods through canals and levees in the Sixties. He posits that the $7.8 billion Everglades revival bill, signed in 2000, might not live up to its promise of reversing 50 years of harm. Most of all, his account of past blunders testifies to the need for protective vigilance today. (Simon & Schuster, $27)


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