How the American Dream Took Its Modern Form in Florida Nearly a Century Ago

For Sale cover

National Geographic news correspondent and book author Willie Drye provides a synopsis of his latest book, For Sale–American Paradise: How Our Nation Was Sold an Impossible Dream in Florida. The book, published by Lyons Press, tells the story of the great Florida Land Boom of the 1920s, when millions of Americans flocked to Florida seeking fun, sun and wealth in a tropical Paradise. For a while, they found what they sought, but eventually their dreams were ruined by greed, unscrupulous entrepreneurs, and devastating hurricanes. Their quest for a better life is imbedded deeply in human nature, but the story of the Florida Land Boom has a uniquely American flavor.

Florida is one of the world’s truly unique places, a land of sunshine and warmth that has been stirring dreams and firing the imaginations of newcomers for centuries. Journalist Edwin Menninger, a native Kansan, was one of those newcomers enthralled by Florida nearly 90 years ago. “If Adam and Eve could have seen Florida, they might not have mourned the loss of Eden,” he wrote in January 1928.

For Sale—American Paradise: How Americans Were Sold an Impossible Dream in Florida tells the story of the great Florida Land Boom of the 1920s, when Edwin Menninger and millions of other Americans believed that all they had to do to live a life of stylish comfort and ease was buy a few acres of land in Florida.

But For Sale—American Paradise is more than a history lesson about how Florida became entwined with Americans’ hopes, fantasies and expectations. It’s a story about the American character and our desire for a better life. It’s also a tale of the euphoria and mass delusion that inevitably happens when times are good and people convince themselves that they’ve found a foolproof way to have it all, —> Read More