td-allman

nytimes.com
Ponce de Leon, Exposed

Florida is like Play-Doh: we try to mold it in the shape of our dreams.

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Having been published on April Fool’s Day, it read like a gag gone wrong.  Internationally renown journalist, T.D. Allman, promoting his new book, “Finding Florida:The True History of the Sunshine State,” had a short opinion printed in the New York Times, encapsulating the often-scathing commentary contained within his pages.  It appears to be a complete rewriting of Florida history as we know it and it is purportedly based on over a decade of Allman’s own research. It’s important to note that Allman has been obsessed with Florida, particularly Miami, throughout a large chunk of his career, and has offered insightful commentary on the Magic City in other major works in the past.  But his latest piece, while proving to be an entertaining read by most critics, is one of his darkest.  His prologue did provoke a few chuckles for me as he cleverly stated, “People are constantly ruining Florida; Florida is constantly ruining them back” and the parts that he cites all of the charlatans misnaming towns like Frostproof (which frequently experiences hard freezes during the winter months) and North Miami Beach (which is NOT on the beach).   But as one of the reviewers of his book, John Williamson, said, “‘l’ll sum up my feelings on this book in three words for those who scan reviews looking for some assessment: depressing, demoralizing and disheartening.”   I concur.   Also, for the fastidious historian: Get your post-it notes out and ready, because I (and several other people are already hollering) am finding a few discrepancies in Allman’s retelling of our state’s history as I delve further into it.  
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