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The Everglades was once reviled as a liquid wasteland, and Americans dreamed of draining it. Now it is revered as a national treasure, and Americans have launched the largest environmental project in history to try to save it. The Swamp is the stunning story of the destruction and possible resurrection of the Everglades, the saga of man's abuse of nature in southern Florida and his unprecedented efforts to make amends. Michael Grunwald, a prize-winning national reporter for The Washington Post, takes readers on a riveting journey from the Ice Ages to the present, illuminating the natural, social and political history of one of America's most beguiling but least understood patches of land.

The Everglades was America's last frontier, a wild country long after the West was won. Grunwald chronicles how a series of visionaries tried to drain and "reclaim" it, and how Mother Nature refused to bend to their will; in the most harrowing tale, a 1928 hurricane drowned 2,500 people in the Everglades. But the Army Corps of Engineers finally tamed the beast with levees and canals, converting half the Everglades into sprawling suburbs and sugar plantations. And though the southern Everglades was preserved as a national park, it soon deteriorated into an ecological mess. The River of Grass stopped flowing, and 90 percent of its wading birds vanished.

Now America wants its swamp back. Grunwald shows how a new breed of visionaries transformed Everglades politics, producing the $8 billion rescue plan. That plan is already the blueprint for a new worldwide era of ecosystem restoration. And this book is a cautionary tale for that era. Through gripping narrative and dogged reporting, Grunwald shows how the Everglades is still threatened by the same hubris, greed and well-intentioned folly that led to its decline.
Published: Simon & Schuster on Oct 31, 2006
ISBN: 9781416537274
List price: $14.99
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Great overall history of South Florida, focusing specifically on the Everglades and how attempts to first drain and later restore the River of Grass have shaped the state, physically, socially and politically.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Excellent history of this unique natural resource. Hard to read about how misguided and pigheaded we humans are when it comes to nature. Well written, especially considering the time span and the vast cast of characters. My only suggestion for improvement: more MAP!!!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Did I ever tell you I fell in love with Florida two years ago? I thought I was too good for it, a ticky-tacky place with no wilds ruled by the Mouse. I avoided Florida all my life until I made the mistake of just-passin'-thru on the way to something else. I was a gone in 30 seconds from that warm, sweet air and the sight of my first palm tree swaying green and shirtless by the exit ramp. In no time we were downing boilermakers (for when you need to catch up) and necking behind the pinball machine. And much too soon, I found myself doing the flight of shame back to Montreal. But I digress.One of the enjoyments of reading this book is the names--Okeechobee, Calosahatchee. It's one big Bobby Gentry song. Unfortunately, there are many unbearable facts in this book. The Everglades swamp was a very slow river. It was a vast and delicate water cycle that is now stopped up through drainage projects, dams, canals, invasive plants, agricultural run-off, runaway development etc. As usual, the politics that come up against fixing it are complicated and powerful. The history of this mess is fascinating, sad, and through Grunwald, excellent reading.Places like the Everglades, recently impenetrable, can give us a false sense of their immortality. This happens with the Far North as well. They are tough environments, but that doesn't mean they're tough. They're really just very well balanced and specialized, which makes them extremely delicate. This book gives a lesson in what's finite, the limits of the everlasting. Odd that a book about a wetland in the south can make me fear for the north. But all of it is finite; greed is not.Interesting convergence p. 309: under politics"Al Gore had lambasted Big Sugar in his book, but Alfonso Fanjul was so angry when the vice president endorsed penny-a-pound that he called the White House an hour later to complain. At the time, President Clinton was in the Oval Office telling an intern named Monica Lewinsky that he no longer felt right about their sexual relationship, but he interrupted the breakup to speak to Fanjul for twenty-two minutes."I think it's fair to say that tensions were high," Graham recalled."read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Everyone in Florida should read this book. Some funny quotes used early in the book and most will see how Hiaasen gets his comic material. Laughs dry up with the Everglades and the politics at the end may deter people from finishing the book. If you can laugh at the insanity of humans without getiing depressed then you may complete the story.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is a major and comprehensive history of South Florida, with “1000” interviews, and a zillion sources. It seems to have begun as an investigative journalism project on CERP, a hugely expensive plan passed in 2000 that was intended to save the Everglades, but instead, at best, somewhat slows down their demise while attempting to provide water for sugar cultivation and South Florida sprawl. However the book began, it ended up as a sort of multifaceted, well-written history that tries to cover everything from prehistory to 2005. It’s truly eye-opening. I grew up in South Florida. I knew I was clueless, having never even visited the Everglades, but I just had no idea how clueless I was. By, multifaceted, I mean the book can kind of be broken into three parts. The first part has really nice sections on Everglades geology, early human history, the Seminole Wars, early drainage and development of South Florida and the Hurricanes in the 1920’s that halted the first population boom. Each section is fascinating. Then the book changes into what I would call the second part, where Grunwald tries to cover the post WWII development boom, the Corps disastrous C&SF project, and the development of the environmental movement, including the C-38 canal fight. (The C-38 canal destroyed the Kissimmee River for some minor flooding and irrigating benefits.) In the “second part” Grunwald is forced to leave the chronological flow, to summarize more and skip a few things. He breaks the history down into different themes and follows each theme. It’s mostly a success and quite interesting. The “third part” is the history of CERP. It’s a valiant effort, but, there are so many details, that, unless you really want to know a lot about CERP, the book bogs down here.I read the first part of this book, and thought it was the best history of South Florida anyone could write. But, by the time I finished the book I was a bit exhausted. It probably didn’t help that I decided to read the 60 pages of notes as I read the book, bogging myself down even further.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

Great overall history of South Florida, focusing specifically on the Everglades and how attempts to first drain and later restore the River of Grass have shaped the state, physically, socially and politically.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Excellent history of this unique natural resource. Hard to read about how misguided and pigheaded we humans are when it comes to nature. Well written, especially considering the time span and the vast cast of characters. My only suggestion for improvement: more MAP!!!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Did I ever tell you I fell in love with Florida two years ago? I thought I was too good for it, a ticky-tacky place with no wilds ruled by the Mouse. I avoided Florida all my life until I made the mistake of just-passin'-thru on the way to something else. I was a gone in 30 seconds from that warm, sweet air and the sight of my first palm tree swaying green and shirtless by the exit ramp. In no time we were downing boilermakers (for when you need to catch up) and necking behind the pinball machine. And much too soon, I found myself doing the flight of shame back to Montreal. But I digress.One of the enjoyments of reading this book is the names--Okeechobee, Calosahatchee. It's one big Bobby Gentry song. Unfortunately, there are many unbearable facts in this book. The Everglades swamp was a very slow river. It was a vast and delicate water cycle that is now stopped up through drainage projects, dams, canals, invasive plants, agricultural run-off, runaway development etc. As usual, the politics that come up against fixing it are complicated and powerful. The history of this mess is fascinating, sad, and through Grunwald, excellent reading.Places like the Everglades, recently impenetrable, can give us a false sense of their immortality. This happens with the Far North as well. They are tough environments, but that doesn't mean they're tough. They're really just very well balanced and specialized, which makes them extremely delicate. This book gives a lesson in what's finite, the limits of the everlasting. Odd that a book about a wetland in the south can make me fear for the north. But all of it is finite; greed is not.Interesting convergence p. 309: under politics"Al Gore had lambasted Big Sugar in his book, but Alfonso Fanjul was so angry when the vice president endorsed penny-a-pound that he called the White House an hour later to complain. At the time, President Clinton was in the Oval Office telling an intern named Monica Lewinsky that he no longer felt right about their sexual relationship, but he interrupted the breakup to speak to Fanjul for twenty-two minutes."I think it's fair to say that tensions were high," Graham recalled."
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Everyone in Florida should read this book. Some funny quotes used early in the book and most will see how Hiaasen gets his comic material. Laughs dry up with the Everglades and the politics at the end may deter people from finishing the book. If you can laugh at the insanity of humans without getiing depressed then you may complete the story.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is a major and comprehensive history of South Florida, with “1000” interviews, and a zillion sources. It seems to have begun as an investigative journalism project on CERP, a hugely expensive plan passed in 2000 that was intended to save the Everglades, but instead, at best, somewhat slows down their demise while attempting to provide water for sugar cultivation and South Florida sprawl. However the book began, it ended up as a sort of multifaceted, well-written history that tries to cover everything from prehistory to 2005. It’s truly eye-opening. I grew up in South Florida. I knew I was clueless, having never even visited the Everglades, but I just had no idea how clueless I was. By, multifaceted, I mean the book can kind of be broken into three parts. The first part has really nice sections on Everglades geology, early human history, the Seminole Wars, early drainage and development of South Florida and the Hurricanes in the 1920’s that halted the first population boom. Each section is fascinating. Then the book changes into what I would call the second part, where Grunwald tries to cover the post WWII development boom, the Corps disastrous C&SF project, and the development of the environmental movement, including the C-38 canal fight. (The C-38 canal destroyed the Kissimmee River for some minor flooding and irrigating benefits.) In the “second part” Grunwald is forced to leave the chronological flow, to summarize more and skip a few things. He breaks the history down into different themes and follows each theme. It’s mostly a success and quite interesting. The “third part” is the history of CERP. It’s a valiant effort, but, there are so many details, that, unless you really want to know a lot about CERP, the book bogs down here.I read the first part of this book, and thought it was the best history of South Florida anyone could write. But, by the time I finished the book I was a bit exhausted. It probably didn’t help that I decided to read the 60 pages of notes as I read the book, bogging myself down even further.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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