Discover Florida in a new light through little-known moments from its fascinating history
“Cathy Salustri’s delightful, insightful book takes us on a trip through sapphire springs, wetlands alive with birdsong, and other hidden corners of this multifarious state. Salustri veers off the well-trodden path of Sunshine State ridicule to give us a well-researched, impeccably reported human and natural history of the landscapes that make this state so compelling.”—Diane Roberts, author of Dream State: Eight Generations of Swamp Lawyers, Conquistadors, Confederate Daughters, Banana Republicans, and Other Florida Wildlife
“Salustri is someone who loves the Sunshine State more than just about anybody, and she’s got lots of great Florida stories to tell. More refreshing than the Fountain of Youth and more fun than all the rides at Disney World, Florida Spectacular is exactly that—a spectacular book about an amazing state, and everyone in Florida ought to read it.”—Craig Pittman, author of The State You’re In: Florida Men, Florida Women, and Other Wildlife
“In Florida Spectacular, Salustri shares her probing, humorous, and at times irreverent journey to discover an array of spectacular stories of the Sunshine State. She pays particular attention to Florida’s enduring environmental wonders without turning a blind eye on its historic and ongoing challenges. Readers, even those who think that they know Florida, will learn something new and fascinating here.”—Andrew Furman, author of Bitten: My Unexpected Love Affair with Florida
“Florida is more than sandy beaches and Florida’s history is more complicated than you know. Here, Salustri reveals some little-known but ‘spectacular’ stories of interconnection—how we humans have shaped Florida, and how Florida has shaped us.”—Lucinda Faulkner Merritt, communications coordinator, Ichetucknee Alliance
“This is a love song written for Florida, and Salustri hits all the high notes. A wonderful, fun-to-read history of the events and issues that shaped America’s wackiest and most important state.”—Tamara Lush, author and journalist
If when you think “Florida” you don’t think “spectacular,” Cathy Salustri is determined to change your mind. Explaining why the state is more than the “Florida Man” stories and the politics that so often make national news, and looking beyond the crowded beaches and theme parks, Salustri celebrates what makes the state worth a deeper understanding in this lively trip through its natural beauty and fascinating history.
Journey with Salustri through centuries of forgotten Florida lore, into the Everglades and through the springs and over ranchlands and scrub habitats to discover a state rich in environmental wonders and unique human stories. Florida Spectacular lifts the curtain on multiple facets including the legacy of Zora Neale Hurston and the Black community at Eatonville; the bravery of Emateloye Estenletkvte, a Seminole woman who escaped from captivity back to her homeland; the two “frenemy” Henrys, Flagler and Plant, and their projects in transportation and tourism; the three “Marjories,” the influential environmentalists and writers; and people working to solve issues facing the state today, such as those who have used Florida’s hurricanes to make storm forecasting better for the whole world and those who have helped show the critically endangered Florida panther a path back from extinction.
Along the way, Salustri brings to light lesser-known moments from Florida’s history that help illuminate the state’s significance in American and world history. Salustri tours readers through the hidden-in-plain-sight Florida, the overlooked treasures, the cultural complexities, the environmental challenges and successes. Her stories show that with curiosity and an eagerness to learn, it doesn’t take much to discover the spectacular in Florida’s past and present.
Cathy Salustri is the owner of The Gabber Newspaper, the oldest independent weekly newspaper in Florida, and the author of Backroads of Paradise: A Journey to Rediscover Old Florida. Salustri writes about her travels through Florida on her website, GreatFloridaRoadTrip.com, and is cohost of The Florida Spectacular podcast. She lives in Gulfport.
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