Suggested Reading List
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: River of Grass
Author: Marjorey Stoneman Douglas
Description: When activist Jow Browder was trying to round up people to fight a proposed jetport in the Everglades, one of the people he approached was Marjory Stoneman Douglask whose 1947 Everglades:River of Grass had first brought the state's most famous marsh to a national audience. But she demurred. Nobody would listen to some half-blind old lady, the 78 year old writer said. People only pay attention to organizations. "Well" Browder retorted, "why don't you start an organization?" So she did, founding Friends of the Everglades with dues of $1.00 per year so everyone could join. Douglas not only denounced the jetport, she transformed herself into Florida's environmental conscience. She spent the next 30 years-until her death at 108-fearlessly confronting local, state, and federal officials.
One of the most important books written about the FL Everglades.
Gladesmen: Gator Hunters, Moonshiners, and Skiffers
Author: Glen Simmons
Description: It is difficult to believe, but there was a time when South Florida was not populated with Rust Belt retirees, packed with strip malls, and landscaped like the world's largest golf course. Florida has had a few economic booms and busts, and after the roaring Twenties, many Floridians survived only by hunting and fishing. Simmons, a lifelong gator hunter born in the swamps in 1916, teams up with anthropologist Ogden to document that time, only 70 years ago. Though Ogden's text is curiously similar to Steinbeck's Log from the Sea of Cortez, it is humorous and easy to read. This book is part of a series designed to preserve Florida's history, and Simmons contributes rather admirably. Lay readers will appreciate his work, but it will be of particular interest to ecologists, conservationists, and even hunters and fishers.
The Orchid Thief
Author: Susan Orlean
Description: Orchidelirium is the name the Victorians gave to the flower madness that is for botanical collectors the equivalent of gold fever. Wealthy orchid fanatics of that era sent explorers (heavily armed, more to protect themselves against other orchid seekers than against hostile natives or wild animals) to unmapped territories in search of new varieties of Cattleya and Paphiopedilum. As knowledge of the family Orchidaceae grew to encompass the currently more than 60,000 species and over 100,000 hybrids, orchidelirium might have been expected to go the way of Dutch tulip mania. Yet, as journalist Susan Orlean found out, there still exists a vein of orchid madness strong enough to inspire larceny among collectors.
The Orchid Thief centers on south Florida and John Laroche, a quixotic, charismatic schemer once convicted of attempting to take endangered orchids from the Fakahatchee swamp, a state preserve. Laroche, a horticultural consultant who once ran an extensive nursery for the Seminole tribe, dreams of making a fortune for the Seminoles and himself by cloning the rare ghost orchid Polyrrhiza lindenii. Laroche sums up the obsession that drives him and so many others: