As enormous as its subject, the Pulitzer prize-winning book “Gulf – The Making of the American Sea” by Jack E. Davis, is the first comprehensive, incisively written history about Florida’s backyard, the Gulf of Mexico. Davis presents the Gulf, a natural extension of the southern United States, as an invaluable geographical component of the country as well as a distinct marker of American history and its economic rise. The heart of the book is about the relationship between nature and the shaping of America. Coming to Books and Books at The Studios of Key West on Friday, Oct. 5, author Jack E. Davis will speak on his extraordinary portrait of what he calls “America’s Sea” and its inarguable importance to the culture, past and future of America.
Davis has turned the Gulf’s history into a very thoughtful, and well-researched story. “Gulf” is a comprehensive and sensitively written history of the 900-mile wide stretch of water from the Pleistocene period to the present. Davis has not overlooked a single shell or oil rig when recounting the evolution of the natural landscape of the Gulf to its vital and integral involvement in America’s economy.
Formed more than 150 million years ago, the sea has a rich plot of indigenous cultures and ecological impact, and has swayed America’s business for generations. Davis expands on the natural history such as the vitality of mangroves, beaches, coastal erosion and ocean life to the history of sport fishing, petroleum drilling, oil spills and expansion of tourist-driven businesses and real estate. Through gathered stories of important politicians, industrialists and even Hollywood socialites, he is able to trace the business of tourism, oil and ecological impact. Davis’ premise is that the Gulf is the “embodiment of the American Spirit” and its history shows “the values and ambitions of the American people.”
Now in present day, Davis predicts, “No region is more vulnerable than the Gulf to rising sea waters.” Documenting its environmental history, Davis hopes that “looking back can help in finding a smarter way forward,” when it comes to climate change, algae blooms, red tide and planning for coastal futures.
“Preservation is not control – just the opposite. It means managing our own behavior, not nature’s,” ends Davis. “It means letting go, allowing nature to find its resonating beat. … We should abandon the impulse to lead and instead follow, holding ourselves to the precept that nature takes better care of itself than do humans.”
“Davis takes us from the beautiful past of the Gulf as fount of life for native tribes to its decline into an ecosystem under attack from development and pollution,” said George Cooper of Books and Books. “A must read for anyone who cares about the vast sea on our doorstep.”