NEW YORK TIMES: Anyone who has commuted to a Fort Lauderdale beach will be familiar with the journey T. D. Allman describes in “Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State.”Because drawbridges that lead to the ocean’s edge are raised to allow large boats up the inland waterways, highway passengers are almost invariably subjected to long waits. This imposition — and the fact that the people behind steering wheels don’t protest — drives Allman to distraction. “Not one person demands to know: Why is it that the people with boats take precedence over us?” he writes.
The Florida beach story encapsulates a pattern Allman discerns throughout Florida history. And that is, the interests of an avaricious elite have consistently taken precedence over the well-being of the vast majority of the state’s residents. The consequences of this injustice go well beyond traffic jams: over more than 500 pages Allman shows how slavery, the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, white supremacist government and egregious corporate welfare took root in Florida. Allman, an accomplished magazine journalist and the author of “Miami: City of the Future,” asserts that such inequities have persisted in part because myths about the region’s past whitewash — and in some cases factually contradict — what actually occurred. “Finding Florida”is a cross between a corrective history and a passionate jeremiad, offered up as a call to arms. MORE