The Everglades: River of Grass

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9780912451442: The Everglades: River of Grass
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"The Everglades" is the story of the only river of its kind in the world...a river of water and grass. Halfway down the Florida peninsula is Lake Okeechobee and south and southwest from it runs for a hundred miles the strange river of fresh water and saw grass, fifty, sixty, seventy miles wide. Geographically in the temperate zone, the laws of the rain and of the seasons in the Everglades are tropic laws and the strange river teems with natural life, with birds, beasts, fish, trees and other plants. Mrs. Douglas writes with the feeling of one who has seen and loved the Everglades in every mood, and who is warmly conscious of its strange beauties. The Everglades have always been resistant to human interlopers. The Indians, forerunners of those known to whites as the Seminoles, came down the peninsula to the Glades and lived apart in the grassy hammocks, on the beaches at the mouth, or on the rocky rims of the stone trough that holds the river of grass. Although the early Spaniards conquered other Floridian Indians by the sword or the Cross, the natives of the Glades, independent, suspicious, self-sufficient, were unconquerable. Eventually, of course, more white men came and set up cities on the edges of the Everglades. But despite the civilization so near at hand, the interior of the saw-grass river region is still wild and natural, much of it as yet uncharted.

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Review:

Originally published in 1947, The Everglades was one of those rare books, like Uncle Tom's Cabin and Silent Spring, to have an immediate political effect: it helped draw public attention to a vast and little-known area that South Florida developers had deemed a worthless swamp and were busily draining, damming, and remaking, and it mustered needed public support for President Harry Truman's controversial order, later that year, to protect more than 2 million acres as Everglades National Park.

Remote and seldom visited, the Everglades nonetheless had a rich human history: several Native American peoples, Spanish explorers, French and English pirates, runaway slaves, and Anglo trappers and fishermen all came to this limestone basin and made their lives among its slowly moving water and fast-growing sawgrass. It is this human history, more than the life histories of the Everglades' deer, panthers, scorpions, serpents, and alligators, that occupies most of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas's pages; even so, her lyrical if sometimes sentimental account of the area's flora and fauna makes for fine reading.

Douglas died in 1998 at the age of 107, having done more than any other one person to protect this magnificent portion of wild America. Anyone wishing to continue her good work--and to understand the Everglades' importance in the shape of things--will find great riches in her book. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Marjory Stoneman Douglas is considered by many to be the first lady of the Everglades. What others called a worthless swamp, she dubbed the “river of grass,” and she fought fiercely to protect and revive the Everglades in her lifetime. Her autobiography, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas: Voice of the River, is the story of a strong-willed, determined woman who let nothing stand in the way of accomplishing her goals and living “my own life in my own way.” Everglades: River of Grass chronicles her involvement in Everglades affairs.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

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