Well, it may be the seasonal Seattle 40 degrees here, but it still feels cold. Not as cold as the windy arctic chill that’s descended upon the Midwest, though, from what I hear. But it’s cold enough that even my blog is snowing.
So with that in mind, I thought I’d focus on something hot, and tell you about one of my favorite recent reads: THE SWAMP: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise, by Michael Grunwald. This book, released in 2006, is an incredible history of the Everglades, from its first intrusions by Ponce de Leon in the 1500s, through its many attempts at drainage and development, through the hurricanes that would devastate the region, to the recent attempts to repair and restore the Everglades. Grunwald, an award-winning reporter for The Washington Post, writes:
The Swamp is “. . .the story of the Everglades, from useless bog to national treasure, from its creation to its destruction to its potential resurrection. . . It’s a story about the pursuit of paradise and the ideal of progress, which once inspired the degradation of nature, and now inspires its restoration. It’s a story about hubris and unintended consequences, about the mistakes man has made in his relationship with nature and his unprecedented efforts to fix them.”
Grunwald calls the Everglades “a moral test,” a test of:
. . . our willingness to restrain ourselves, the share the earth’s resources with the other living things that moveth upon it, to live in harmony with nature. If we pass, we may deserve to keep the planet.”
It’s rare that I read a book that reads so well not only as a living piece of history, but also as a work of suspense, of ethics, and philosophy, and yet remains exceptionally accessible. To anyone who has an interest in the history of the United States, Florida, the environment, or likes a good man vs. the environment tale, this book is for you.