Suggested Reading List
Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean
Author: Les Standiford
Description: Last Train to Paradise is acclaimed novelist Les Standiford’s fast-paced and gripping true account of the extraordinary construction and spectacular demise of the Key West Railroad—one of the greatest engineering feats ever undertaken, destroyed in one fell swoop by the Labor Day hurricane of 1935. Brilliant and driven entrepreneur Henry Flagler’s dream fulfilled, the Key West Railroad stood as a magnificent achievement for more than twenty-two years, heralded as “the Eighth Wonder of the World.” Standiford brings the full force and fury of 1935’s deadly “Storm of the Century” and its sweeping destruction of “the railroad that crossed an ocean” to terrifying life. Last Train to Paradise celebrates a crowning achievement of Gilded Age ambition in a sweeping tale of the powerful forces of human ingenuity colliding with the even greater forces of nature’s wrath.
Konnichiwa Florida Moon: The Story of George Morikami, Pineapple Pioneer
Author: Virginia Aronson
Description: This is the story of one of the earliest Japanese Americans to settle in Florida. How did a poor Japanese immigrant transform himself into one of south Florida’s most generous millionaires? He bowed to the earth, gave thanks to the Florida moon, and grew pineapples! Here for the first time in book form is the inspirational story of George Morikami, a true Florida pioneer.
In the early 1900s, young Sukeji "George" Morikami lived happily with his family in a quiet Japanese fishing hamlet. But when his true love’s parents refused to let him marry her, he was crushed. He left to find his fortune in America, never to see the Japanese moon again.
Penniless and unable to speak English, George arrived at Yamato, an upstart farming colony in what is now Boca Raton. George’s dreams of earning enough money to return home, buy his own land, and claim his beloved would never be realized. Destiny had other dreams—American dreams—in store for George Morikami.
Today, his legacy lives on at the beautiful and unique Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach.
Boca Rococo: How Addison Mizner Invented Florida's Gold Coast
Author: Caroline Seebohm
Description: The rollicking tale of the artist, adventurer, and visionary whose innovative architecture transformed Palm Beach and whose dramatic rise and fall mirrors the larger-than-life excesses of the 1920s.
Addison Mizner’s Mediterranean-style mansions—with their stucco walls, tiled roofs, and Moorish accents—are much-admired Florida icons. In Boca Rococo, renowned author and biographer Caroline Seebohm introduces the flamboyant genius behind these pastel palaces.
A Light In The Wilderness: The Story of Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and the Southeast Florida Frontier
Author: James D. Snyder
Description: Although nearly 7 million people live along the southeast Florida coast, scarcely three generations ago it was a wild, lawless frontier ruled by bears, snakes and alligators. But when a lighthouse was built at Jupiter Inlet in 1860, it became the hub for hunters, surveyors, Civil War blockade runners, Union gunboats and pioneer farmers. A Light in the Wilderness, with over seventy rare photos, maps and letters, tells how southeast Florida survived the catharsis of the Civil War, how the lighthouse at Jupiter drew the first families into its orbit, and how it became a key link in the steamboat-railroad path that led people to the “Garden of Eden.”
The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise
Author: Michael Grunwald
Description: 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.