Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams
A Social History of Modern Florida

Gary R. Mormino

Foreword by Raymond Arsenault, series editor

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"This path-breaking book brilliantly explains the explosive growth of Florida from 2.7 million inhabitants in 1950 to 15.9 million in 2000. It focuses on the diverse people who migrated here; the developers of tourism, beaches, shopping malls, and gated communities; new technology (from air conditioning to the space age); and the impact of this growth and development upon the environment."--James B.Crooks, professor emeritus, University of North Florida

"This is the first comprehensive social history of Florida in any of its epochs. A brilliant compilation of data, it will be the standard against which all future such efforts in Florida will be measured."--Michael Gannon, professor emeritus, University of Florida

Florida is a story of astonishing growth, a state swelling from 500,000 residents at the outset of the 20th century to some 16 million at the end. As recently as mid-century, on the eve of Pearl Harbor, Florida was the smallest state in the South. At the dawn of the millennium, it is the fourth largest in the country, a megastate that was among those introducing new words into the American vernacular: space coast, climate control, growth management, retirement community, theme park, edge cities, shopping mall, boomburbs, beach renourishment, Interstate, and Internet. Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams attempts to understand the firestorm of change that erupted into modern Florida by examining the great social, cultural, and economic forces driving its transformation.

Gary Mormino ranges far and wide across the landscape and boundaries of a place that is at once America's southernmost state and the northernmost outpost of the Caribbean. From the capital, Tallahassee--a day's walk from the Georgia border--to Miami--a city distant but tantalizingly close to Cuba and Haiti--Mormino traces the themes of Florida's transformation: the echoes of old Dixie and a vanishing Florida; land booms and tourist empires; revolutions in agriculture, technology, and demographics; the seductions of the beach and the dynamics of a graying population; and the enduring but changing meanings of a dreamstate. Beneath the iconography of popular culture is revealed a complex and complicated social framework that reflects a dizzying passage from New Spain to Old South, New South to Sunbelt.

Gary R. Mormino is Duckwall Professor of History at the University of South Florida.

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Charlton Tebeau Book Award (Florida Historical Society) - 2006
Choice Outstanding Academic Title - 2007

"The perfect read for stretching out on a lawn chair in the back yard while you're heating up the grill." "Mormino's book is a must read for every high school student."
--Tampa Tribune online

"Explores the daring, heroic, complex, ever-changing, sometimes humdrum, sometimes crooked people and events that created today's Gold Coast, Space Coast, Tampa Bay, Redneck Riviera and, of course, Disney World. Mormino tells a good story, no small achievement in light of the complex historical and current material he blends in providing Floridians a panorama of how our Florida came into being."

"Perhaps Floridians will realize we're in this together, that we live in a land worth saving."
--Orlando Sentinel

"Mormino's book reveals it all and shows us where we fit into it." "Florida is America a little ahead of itself. This book explains how it got that way."

"captures the astonishing growth of Florida"

"compelling story"
--Orlando Magazine

"If you want an entertaining, fact-filled account of how life has changed in the Sunshine State over the past half century or so, Mormino's account is a must-have."
--The Ledger

"Rich and vivid detail."
--Forum: The Magazine of the Florida Humanities Council

"A carefully researched and thoughtful examination of Florida, past and present."
--Bradenton Herald

"Mormino has produced a well-written and superbly researched volume on the Sunshine State. This superb work should long be the standard on modern Florida. Essential"

"Anyone teaching modern, southern, or Florida history will want to dip into this book for anecdotes and amusing stories with which to pepper their lectures. The book is conveniently divided into topical subsections to ease such pedagogical mining… Mormino has a firm grasp on modern Florida and is an effective and enjoyable storyteller."
--Southern Historian

"captures the essence of modern Florida, deftly explaining the substance and allure that has spurred the Sunshine State's rise to prominence."
--The Journal of American History

"The old saw from our grammar school teachers that we have to know where we came from to know where we are going is taken seriously by Gary Mormino . . . Mormino's brilliance lies in avoiding the standard practice of a chronological narrative other historians have tried and at which all have been, in varying degrees, less than successful . . . Mormino's approach really produces in the reader a sense of a co-temporal past as if in a great dialectical dance with the forces that sculpted and still sculpt this state."
--Ocala Star-Banner

This long-awaited book examines numerous facets of Florida's evolution...Mormino provides an unblinking assessment of the triumphs and tragedies of Florida's development over the past sixty years.
--The Journal of Southern History

If you suspect that beaches, Walt Disney, and air conditioning have more to do with what Florida is today than battles, elections, and politicians, then Mormino has written the Florida history for you.
--Sarasota Herald-Tribune

…in a word, masterful…this book goes well beyond social history…a gifted writer who knows how to tell a story…
--The Journal of the James Madison Institute

"Masterful….This book goes well beyond social history. It satisfies my curiosity about people and places and events--yes, and myths and dreams and scandals--as no other book on Florida history has done for me.
--The Journal of the James Madison Institute

For anyone interested in the history of Florida, for anyone new to the state who wants to learn about its recent past, and for anyone interested in how the Sunshine State has been transformed by many forces into a "land of dreams," Mormino's book is essential…beautifully evocative and elegant…

…destined to become the definite work on the history of post-World War II Florida…a passionate book that deserves to be read.
--Florida Historical Quarterly

Gary R. Mormino's book does a very capabale job of chronicling the modern development of Florida and its bizarre popular culture(s).
--American Historical Review

Chronicles the rapid development and growth of 20th century Florida—and does so with the engaging wit and color that has become [Mormino’s] signature style.

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