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.