Tag Archives: Book Club

March Book Discussion: The Swamp by Michael Grunwald

By Olivia Dorothy

Al Gore lost the election because of Florida… but why did he lose Florida?

According to the author of our March book, The Swamp by Michael Grunwald, the Florida Everglades, America’s Swamp, has played in integral part in United States history and politics.  It’s a history that is often unrecognized and underappreciated, but the timing of our March selection couldn’t be better as new information is emerging about the early multi-cultural settlements in Florida.

If you’re a PBS fan like me, you may have caught the recent Secrets of the Dead episode on Spanish Florida, which highlighted the post-European contact settlements and societies that were founded long before Jamestown and Plymouth.  The documentary is an excellent companion to Grunwald’s book.  If you haven’t seen it, go online and watch it now.

In his book, Grunwald explores the natural and human history of the Everglades and how it’s influenced our national policies and politics.  The Everglades has been home to people for at least 14,000 years where its rich ecosystem supported some of the earliest human settlements in North America.  But it wasn’t until United States became a country did we start to see these rich resources exploited and the swamp drained for development.

The progression of the region from the wildest of wildernesses to penultimate engineering marvel to National Park mirrors the progression of our national conservation conscience.  Indeed, Grunwald argues, the region is intractably intertwined with our national politics, including presidential elections and even the policies that have shaped the develop of the Mississippi River.

Regardless of whether you’ve visited central Florida or the Everglades you’ll be able to relate to the place through Grunwald’s articulate history.  So make time to read The Swamp (it is a long book) and join us for our book discussion on March 27 at 7PM at River Action.


February Book Club: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil de Grasse Tyson

By Emily Clever

Astrophysics is a branch of science that can both amaze and intimidate many people. Even though I consider myself a bit of a science lover, I too am intimidated by astrophysics and the vastness of our universe. I have found biology, chemistry and ecology to be easier because they can be tangible.  I can examine animals and plants. I can see changes of color or state of chemicals. I can see the interactions of species in a food web.

The universe, however, is not tangible in the same way. We can see the faint glow of stars and other planets, but we can’t touch them. We can see photos of other planets from satellites that have been sent to collect information, but we can’t set foot on them. We cannot visit a neighboring universe on a weekend getaway.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry makes this challenging branch of science more accessible to those of us who may be intimidated by the topic. Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the field, its history and future, without using complex equations or jargon.

I hope you enjoy it too and join the discussion on February 27th at 7PM at River Action in Davenport.