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This book is somewhat improperly attributed; although Milanich has done a fine job in collating and contextualizing the material, the "material" is a collection of newspaper articles written by Amos Jay Cummings for the New York Sun between 1873 and 1893. If you think Northerners believe Florida is fucked up now, wait until you read Cummings' wide-eyed tales of alligator-hunting, "music-loving cows" and "weak-kneed Democrats" (some things never change); it's clear that he felt like he had landed on another planet. And indeed he had; the scrub, swamps and groves that defined this state 100 years ago were undoubtedly exotic to the stiff-shirted carriage-riders of New York City, and the oddly dry details of Cummings' reports made it all seem that much stranger.

Frolicking Bears, Wet Vultures, & Other Oddities: A New York City Journalist in Nineteenth-Century Florida
By Jerald T. Milanich
(University Press of Florida, 304 pages)

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