by Michael Gannon
Hardcover: 192 pages 6” X 9” (2003)
This is an excellent introduction for any person that wants to have a good introduction to Florida history.
"Extremely thorough and insightful. . . . It will provide a point of departure for both newcomers to Florida and those who grew up in the state." -- Robert E. Crew, Jr., Florida State University
Michael Gannon knows a lot more about Florida history than he tells in this compact book. As though Ponce de Leon, who happened onto the peninsula in 1513, returned today to demand a quick reckoning ("Tell me what happened after I was there, but leave out the boring parts!"), Gannon recounts "the longest recorded history of any of the American states" in 28 brisk chapters, all fully illustrated.
From indigenous tribes who lived along spring-fed streams to environmentalists who labor to "Save Our Rivers," from the first conquistadors whose broad black ships astonished the natives to the 123,000 refugees whose unexpected immigration stunned South Floridians in 1980, the story of the state is as rich and distinctive as the story of America.
And it's older than most people think. As Gannon writes, "By the time the Pilgrims came ashore at Plymouth, St. Augustine was up for urban renewal. It was a town with fort, church, seminary, six-bed hospital, fish market, and about 120 shops and houses. Because La Florida stretched north from the Keys to Newfoundland and west to Texas, St. Augustine could claim to be the capital of much of what is now the United States."
Gannon tells his fast-marching saga in chronological fashion. Starting with the lush green wilderness of the ancient earth, he fills the landscape with Indians, colonialists, pioneers, entrepreneurs, politicians, and the 13 million citizens who make up the panorama of Florida today. He concludes A Short History in 1992, ranging along "the broad superhighways that wind past horse farms, retirement communities, international airports, launch pads, futuristic attractions, and come to rest, finally, amidst the gleaming towers of Oz-like cities."
Michael Gannon is distinguished service professor of history and director of the Institute for Early Contact Period Studies at the University of Florida. Among other honors, he has received the annual Phileas Society Award for Columbus scholarship and the Knight Commander of the Order of Isabel la Católica from King Juan Carlos I of Spain. He is the author of the bestselling Operation Drumbeat and of The Cross in the Sand: The Early Catholic Church in Florida, 1513-1870.
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