An inviting tour through Florida’s personality and the colorful characters that make it up.



A chronicle of the eccentric, enigmatic nature of the state of Florida.

The history, culture, and citizenry of the Sunshine State have a less-than-savory reputation. Referred to by W. Somerset Maugham as “a sunny place for shady people,” Florida is a land of contradiction, a home to every variety of hustler, player, and exploitation artist, as well as Disney World. As Tampa Bay Times reporter, author, and native Floridian Pittman (The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid, 2012) points out in his unique and charming book that is part history, part travelogue, and part memoir, Florida is truly a one-of-a-kind state whose eccentricities can at times seem like parody. (There are innumerable anecdotes and factoids provided by the author to quote from, but perhaps it’s easier to mention the popular Twitter handle “Florida Man,” which shares bizarre news stories that capture a slice of the state’s oddball flavor.) However, Florida’s rakish reputation belies the state’s cultural and political clout. For every story like the naked man high on “bath salts” who brutally attacked a homeless person on a Miami highway in 2012, there are others like the case of Florida resident Terri Schiavo, whose medical condition sparked a national debate on end-of-life care—not to mention Florida’s infamous role tipping the 2000 presidential election. Pittman is smart to trace these extremes through Floridian history without making claims to a cause or common character trait that could explain away the strangeness that binds them. Like any good journalist, the author allows his deeply researched collection of Floridiana, which covers real estate, guns, politics, tourism, the elderly, and much more, to speak for itself. Though Pittman’s argument of Florida’s singular importance is disputable, he provides ample evidence to prove that the history of Florida’s endearingly cavalier spirit continues to live on.

An inviting tour through Florida’s personality and the colorful characters that make it up.

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-07120-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?


For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?