The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise
Simon & Schuster, Paperback, 9780743251075, 480pp.
Publication Date: March 2007
"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.
"This is a wonderfully written, provocative and important book. It combines history and investigative journalism to explore not only the Everglades but the larger tensions of a society's relationship with the environment. It's also a riveting story, the definitive account of south Florida's incredible journey from natural marshland to man-made megalopolis. There are many lessons here, and in the wake of Katrina it's time we learned them." -- John Barry, author of Rising Tide and The Great Influenza
"In The Swamp, Michael Grunwald has produced a masterly narrative, a story of ambition and greed in the Everglades that is rich with character, entertainment and revelation. This is a quintessential chapter of American history and also an urgently important work of contemporary journalism." -- Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars
"Michael Grunwald is tough and clear-eyed and writes like a dream. Here, in The Swamp, he has found the perfect story -- man's long struggle between destruction and salvation, played out in the Everglades of Florida. With its interwoven threads of history, science, politics and biography, Grunwald's work has brought a beautiful, dying place to life as never before." -- David Maraniss, author of They Marched into Sunlight and When Pride Still Mattered
"Michael Grunwald digs deep and writes smart. The dying Everglades hasn't had a livelier or more compelling witness since Marjory Stoneman Douglas. The Swamp will sit cover to cover with her classic The Everglades: River of Grass on history's bookshelf." -- John Rothchild, author of Up for Grabs: A Trip Through Time and Space in the Sunshine State and A Fool and His Money