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Pushes aside the palm fronds celebrated by boosters to explain how the nineteenth-century frontiers of barren southern California and waterlogged southern Florida were reimagined as havens for American leisure and agriculture. This is the story of the birth of modern America. Anthony J. Stanis, author of Creating the Big Easy: New Orleans and the Emergence of Modern Tourism, 1918 1945 A refreshingly original and subtly nuanced study of how nineteenth- and twentieth-century boosters sold Florida and California as semi-tropical lands worthy of serious attention. With clarity and insight, Knight provides an instructive and provocative look at the peculiar machinations of identity formation in America. Rebecca McIntyre, author of Souvenirs of the Old South: Northern Tourism and Southern Mythology After the Civil War, two states emerged as America s paradise destinations. Transformed from remote, sparsely populated locales into two of the most publicized destinations in the country, California and Florida also became the most desirable. Private companies, state agencies, and journalists all lent a hand in creating the seductive, expansionist imagery that promoted the semitropical states, selling the idea of an attainable paradise within the United States. Henry Knight examines and compares the way the two states were promoted, adding to existing historiographies on California and Florida while providing expert analysis of how railroad kingpins, land barons, agriculturalists, and chambers of commerce invented and popularized an image of these states as the American Paradise.
Henry Knight is lecturer in American studies at Northumbria University.