"This is a fascinating account of the Florida plume hunters, the devastation they wrought, and the slow, painful progress--exemplified bravely on the hunting grounds by Guy Bradley--of the bird protection movement that ultimately succeeded."--Oliver H. Orr, Jr., Library of Congress (retired), and author of Saving American Birds: T. Gilbert Pearson and the Founding of the Audubon Movement
"A moving account of a raw frontier and a hero who lost his life trying to enforce the law."--Paul S. George, editor, Tequesta
Death in the Everglades chronicles the demise of one of 20th-century Florida's most enduring folk heroes. The murder of Guy Bradley represents a milestone not only in the saga of the Everglades but also in the broader history of American environmentalism. This fascinating biography of his abbreviated but eventful life is emblematic of the struggle to tame the Florida frontier without destroying it. As Stuart McIver unfolds the story behind this famous but little-known crime, he also provides a window into Florida history during the creation of modern South Florida.
Born in Chicago in 1870, Bradley moved to Florida as a young boy in 1876. Nineteen years later his father became associated with the developer and railroad magnate Henry Flagler, and in 1898 the family moved to the isolated coastal village of Flamingo. Situated on the southeastern fringe of the Everglades, Flamingo was a flash point in an emerging ecological battleground that drew the Bradleys and other pioneer families into a conflict later dubbed "the Plume Wars." At the turn of the century, the mass killing of egrets and other plume birds for feathers to adorn women's hats was a serious concern among the nation's growing cadre of environmentalists, especially among those who belonged to the Audubon Society, a conservation organization founded in 1886.
In 1901, at the urging of Audubon Society leaders and the American Ornithologists' Union, the Florida legislature enacted a bird protection law that provided for the hiring of local game wardens, and a year later Guy Bradley assumed the dual role of Monroe County's game warden and deputy sheriff. For the next three years, from 1902 to 1905, Bradley matched wits and sometimes weapons with an array of plume hunters and other nefarious characters, some of whom were strangers but many of whom were friends or acquaintances of the warden or his family. In the end, Bradley was shot and killed by Walter Smith, a man he had known for nearly a decade. How this murder came about, what happened to Smith and others left behind, and how Bradley's demise and subsequent controversies affected the environmental movement are intriguing questions that frame McIver's richly textured narrative.
With the instincts and skills of a master storyteller, McIver--long one of Florida's most historically minded journalists--has recaptured a tale for the ages, a story of personal sacrifice and collective awakening that altered the course of the state's natural and human history. Bradley should not be forgotten, and this book should not be overlooked by anyone seeking a full understanding of how the Everglades became a treasured but imperiled place.
Stuart B. McIver was a prolific journalist who also wrote numerous books, more than 500 magazine articles, and documentary films, for which he also worked as producer.
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"By vividly relating the highly dramatic story of Guy Bradley (1870-1905), "first martyr in the fight to protect wild birds," prolific writer and documentary filmmaker McIver rescues from obscurity a key chapter in the history of American environmentalism… With great finesse, McIver evokes Bradley's tumultuous world, chronicles the pitched battle to save wild birds, and resurrects a true folk hero." - Booklist
" In this spirited work, McIver chronicles the battle to save the wading birds and the bloody event that shocked the nation and forever turned the tide against the poachers.
" Compelling" ; " Helps remind us that Glades once was so wild that armed men quaked with fear."
--St Petersburg Times
"Rich in historical lore, Death in the Everglades provides a grim reminder of what we stand to lose when we ignore the planet's other inhabitants in our quest for status. McIver has done justice to an important piece of Florida's environmental history."
--South Florida Sun Sentinel
"McIver shows impressive scholarship in re-creating life in Flamingo, the desolate outpose at the rim of the Everglades where Bradley lived." ; ""Death in the Everglades" is a valuable and relevant contribution to Florida history writing. Nearly a century after Bradley's death, the plume hunters are long gone but wildlife of Florida remain in need of protectors."
"Nobody knows the story of Guy Bradley better than McIver."
--South Florida Sun Sentinel
"Does a great job of bringing Florida's early pioneer days to life."
--Miami Herald Int'l
"An informative and well-researched book."
"The freely flowing text makes one eager to read about this terribly regrettable yet important saga in America's transition from frontier to modern society."
"Reveals the struggles that environmentalism faced in the early twentieth century."
"McIver writes about so much more than just an environmentally conscious individual. He writes a great deal about Florida history and incorporates many different people throughout the book."
" Game wardens remain the underappreciated foot soldiers of wildlife conservation, and McIver deserves much credit for helping renew interest in a pioneering figure in the field who made the ultimate sacrifice."
--The South Carolina Historical Magazine