Winner • Pulitzer Prize for History
Winner • Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction
Finalist • National Book Critics Circle Award (Nonfiction)
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, NPR, Library Journal, and gCaptain
Booklist Editors’ Choice (History)
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence
In this “cri de coeur about the Gulf’s environmental ruin” (New York Times), “Davis has written a beautiful homage to a neglected sea” (front page, New York Times Book Review).
Hailed as a “nonfiction epic . . . in the tradition of Jared Diamond’s best-seller Collapse, and Simon Winchester’s Atlantic” (Dallas Morning News), Jack E. Davis’s The Gulf is “by turns informative, lyrical, inspiring and chilling for anyone who cares about the future of ‘America’s Sea’ ” (Wall Street Journal). Illuminating America’s political and economic relationship with the environment from the age of the conquistadors to the present, Davis demonstrates how the Gulf’s fruitful ecosystems and exceptional beauty empowered a growing nation. Filled with vivid, untold stories from the sportfish that launched Gulfside vacationing to Hollywood’s role in the country’s first offshore oil wells, this “vast and welltold story shows how we made the Gulf . . . [into] a ‘national sacrifice zone’ ” (Bill McKibben). The first and only study of its kind, The Gulf offers “a unique and illuminating history of the American Southern coast and sea as it should be written” (Edward O. Wilson).
In this comprehensive and thoroughly researched narrative, Davis, professor of history and sustainability at the University of Florida, positions the Gulf of Mexico as an integral part of American ecology, culture, and with future good stewardship economic success. He sprinkles geological and marine history throughout the chronicle of the coast s demographic changes from indigenous inhabitants to European colonizers, Louisiana Cajuns, Texas roughnecks, and Florida s tourists. Davis unflinchingly addresses the decades of oil spills, overfishing, and poor environmental practices that reduced resources. He also describes the decline of coastal marshes, which protect against hurricanes, and the erosion stemming from ill-conceived Army Corps of Engineer projects. Hurricanes Camille and Katrina and the catastrophic BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill poignantly receive their due. Davis also discusses inspired conservation efforts to combat the fashion industry s feather fascination and subsequent decimation of snowy egrets. The density of the fact-packed chapters calls for a deliberate reading pace so as not to overlook any of Davis s thought-provoking commentary and keen descriptions. Rather than advocate an impractical hands-off approach to dealing with the Gulf s myriad issues, Davis makes the convincing argument that wiser, far-sighted practices including those aimed at combating climate change could help the Gulf region to remain a bastion of resources for the foreseeable future.
Informative and entertaining.
Informative and entertaining. I live in Florida and learned thousands of facts about the history, geography, flora, fauna, climatology and politics of a region I thought I knew well.
Simply A Great Historical Classic
History brought to life in a novel like way!
Brilliant writing, Incredible history
Jack E. Davis has written an incredible book about the past and current history of the Gulf of Mexico. There are not enough words to describe his brilliant historical story telling and helping us understand that the Gulf truly is America’s sea. Readers will also want to watch Professor Davis on C-Span discuss this important book. Quite simply, Davis’s book should be required reading for all Americans. (Maybe even read in conjunction with Martin Doyle’s book, The Source, about the history of America’s rivers.)
The Calusa would be proud of Jack Davis.