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*Starred Review* Allman's engaging, eye-opening, and heavily researched history of Florida spans half a milllennium, from the myth of Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth to the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and it is a fulsome cavalcade of would-be conquistadors, epically corrupt and racist politicans, and oligarch-wannabes. Allman argues that these individuals' ideas about Florida were wildly wrong. Ponce was looking for gold in a state devoid of metals; even Presidents Jefferson, Monroe, and Madison schemed to control Florida only to learn that the place had no resources. Florida only consumes resources. People were constantly ruining Florida; Florida ruined them right back, he writes. The Seminole Wars, the Civil War, various massacres, Reconstruction, a second Reconstruction, Disney World, the Marielitos, voter suppression it's all here, and even Carl Hiaasen couldn't make it up. This is history for the intelligent generalist, and Allman writes with style, passion, and real outrage at Florida's odious political history. Readers will be struck by his conclusion that much of America as Florida has long done is abandoning verifiable facts for beliefs that are often utter nonsense. But, hey, it was sunny and 80 degrees in Florida today.--Gaughan, Thomas Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Allman (former foreign correspondent, Vanity Fair; Miami: City of the Future) must have walked barefoot across a hot South Florida asphalt parking lot when he got the idea for Finding Florida. As the author outlines the history and image of the state from the 1500s to 2012, he criticizes all popular icons of Florida history: Ponce de Leon, Henry Flagler, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Walt Disney, and Carl Hiaasen. Allman's premise is that the popular history and popular culture of Florida are fictional, owing to promoters who did not consider the consequences of what they did to publicize this "paradise." He outlines "fascinating real-life human dramas no one could invent" such as the myth of the fountain of youth. He states that Rawlings's (The Yearling) contributions to American literature are an irrelevancy, and he labels Hiaasen as a shameless writer who makes lots of money by sneering at Florida. VERDICT Allman, a native Floridian, works to correct historical myths about his home state and pokes a hot stick at those who have made their money by perpetuating those myths. Recommended to all readers interested in Florida's history; this title will surely stimulate discussion about how popular presentations of Florida history are based primarily on attracting the tourist dollar.-Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.