"Grand reading. Rothchild’s scenario deliciously underscores the bizarre quality of Florida."—Publishers Weekly
"A story of rapacity and gall told with bemused admiration for the waves of visionaries and scamps who have left their mark on the Sunshine State . . . a tale of the wild, wild South in which motives, loyalties, and identities are lost in a tangle of crime and counterinsurgency."—Time
“I read the book with a mixture of outrage and resignation. But I don’t think I went more than four or five pages without a laugh . . . A journalistic and historical account of the descent of Florida.”—Outside Magazine
“Filled with larceny and lunacy . . . Florida has always been up for grabs—first by the Spanish, then the French, then the English, and finally the Americans, who showed the rest how things should really be done.”—Tampa Tribune
A wandering Floridian who made his way home in the early 1970s, John Rothchild writes about the state with the savvy of a native and the perspective of an outsider. His personal and historical travelogue reads alternately like a litany of 20th-century ills and a Monty Python rendering of the Great American Dream. In Florida, both versions are true.
Settled through the chicanery of a few enterprising brokers and real estate wizards, Rothchild’s Florida is a civilization built from scratch, out of the most unusual ingredients. While much of the state seems younger than many of its inhabitants, he observes, it hosts all the modern demographic, economic, and social problems. Still, those ills don’t dispel the magic of its sunshine, beaches, and exotic fauna or undermine its status as a great American myth.
Told within the framework of Rothchild’s travels from Miami to the Everglades, around the state and back again, Up for Grabs is part history, part travelogue, part journalism, part autobiography—a humorous and appreciative tour of a society fabricated from a state of mind and erected on land that was "ninety percent underwater ninety percent of the time."
John Rothchild, a former editor of Washington Monthly, columnist for Time and Fortune, and contributor to Esquire, Rolling Stone, Harper’s Magazine, and the New York Times Magazine, is author or coauthor of nine books, including A Fool and His Money and Voice of the River, the autobiography of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. He lives in Miami Beach, Florida.
Considered by many to be the best and certainly most entertaining history of this state ever written.
Long before the current presidential-election mess focused yet another hot spotlight on the high stakes and unpredictable emotions that burble up through the topsoil of our bewildering paradise, South Florida writer John Rothchild had his finger firmly on our erratic pulse. First published in 1985, Up for Grabs is a worm's-eye survey, wry and outraged, of a place almost too wild and weird to be true, although, of course, it is.