• Bubble in the Sun

  • The Florida Boom of the 1920s and How It Brought on the Great Depression
  • By: Christopher Knowlton
  • Narrated by: Fred Sanders
  • Length: 13 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (115 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

Christopher Knowlton, author of Cattle Kingdom and former Fortune writer, takes an in-depth look at the spectacular Florida land boom of the 1920s and shows how it led directly to the Great Depression.

The 1920s in Florida was a time of incredible excess, immense wealth, and precipitous collapse. It was the largest human migration in American history, far exceeding the settlement of the West. It spawned the suburbs as we know them and the first large-scale assault on the environment in the name of “progress.” Thousands flocked to the grand hotels and new cities rose rapidly from the teeming wetlands. Nowhere was the glitz and excess of the Roaring Twenties more blatant than in Florida. It was Vegas before there was Vegas; gambling was legal and so was drinking (prohibition was not enforced). Tycoons and celebrities flocked to this new frontier. Yet, the import and deep impact of this historical moment has never been explored thoroughly until now. 

In Bubble in the Sun Christopher Knowlton shows us the grand artistic and entrepreneurial visions behind Coral Gables, Boca Raton, Mar-a-Lago, Miami Beach, and other storied sites. It was a time when the nightlife raged more raucously than anywhere else in America; workers, mostly black, who built and maintained the boom endured grievous abuses; and the pure beauty of the Everglades suffered wanton ruination. Knowlton also breathes dynamic life into the four forces that made and/or broke Florida in the time: the real estate moguls Carl Fisher, George Merrick, and Addison Mizner, and the once-in-a-century storm whose aftermath included the stock market crash. This essential account is a revelatory - and relevant - history of a specific time that is still affecting our country today.

©2020 Christopher Knowlton (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

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What listeners say about Bubble in the Sun

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

One irritating point...

Two, actually, and both are probably crotchets. One is the pronunciation of St. Augustine by the narrator. I have always heard it pronounced as “AWE-guss-teen.” A call to the city hall confirms that. The narrator says “ow-GUSS-tin.” Ok, minor, but it takes away from the listening experience. Second is the use of the long “a.” I suppose it is personal preference, but consistently hearing that brings me up short. One more as I continue to listen. The narrator talks about the “binder boys” and pronounces it the “binn-der” boys. I’m fairly certain it should be pronounced with a long “i,” as in “insurance binder.” Those are my only quibbles with the narration. The narrator has a great voice and pace.

6 people found this helpful

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Excellent!

Simply put, a fantastic read. I thought I would enjoy this book but I found it even better than I expected! I thought it was very well written, well researched, and very interesting. Plus, there are a lot of lessons from this time period that are applicable now (2020) and to any time period with a lot of speculation. Riding the highs and lows of all the characters during this time was entertaining and really well done. I thought the author provided lots of very meaningful and interesting information - not too little and not too much, just right.

I've visited St Augustine and toured the Ponce de Leon, the Biltmore, Miami Beach, driven several times across the Everglades, Key West, and more and this book helped bring them all to life by providing helpful and interesting context.

I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone who lives in Florida or anyone who loves history, economics, real estate, or just a great story. So much to learn and enjoy from this book and I'll be looking for more of Mr. Knowlton's books.

Also, I was not at all put off by how a few words are pronounced slightly differently or incorrectly. Great narrator overall that in no way takes away from an incredible story.

4 people found this helpful

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Disappointed by the Reader

Sorry, I wanted to like this book, but the reader was not good. Mispronunciations, reading a and the long vowel like reading to a first grader, and without any feeling.

4 people found this helpful

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Must Read for Real Estate Investors

Real estate investors everywhere, but especially those tied to Florida real estate, should read this fascinating narrative from a boom and bust of yesteryear -- with lasting repercussions.

1 person found this helpful

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Knowlton Knows Florida!

This is a master class on how to write a compelling, entertaining, fascinating history book about one of the US states. It is meticulously researched, and the author weaves a very good story to tie everything together. Granted, it helps if you know (or are a fan of) some of the biggest cities in the state, but even if you're just curious about Florida, this is a great book.

Narrator was very good.

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Essential History

This should be in the curriculum of every business school in the country. Great read.

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an eye-opening performance

so well done as a moving pictorial of what we see in South Florida today

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highly recommended

very revealing and educational and entertaining
I couldn’t put it down, and I didn’t
loved the book

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A great book

A terrific story told and read terrifically. Loved it. My favorite book in the last year.

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Every Florida resident should read this book

Anyone concerned about how greed made and then ruined the state in the 1920’s should read this book. Also any one concerned about the Everglades and how we nearly wiped out its wildlife .

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  • Hamburgerpatty
  • 10-13-20

Ever take a punt on a book?

i saw the title and remembered Jack Lemmon and Joe E Brown and Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe and I thought yeah, I'll have a go.

Listeners, I wasn't disappointed. I know it's a hackneyed phrase but it's a fascinating story. Well told. Great ensemble cast.. Some of the speculators, investors, socialites were as entertaining as Lemmon, Brown, Curtis, Monroe. And I'm certainly convinced the author's premises, that the land boom in Florida and its collapse was the cue break (8 ball in the corner pocket) which put in motion the start of the Great Depression in the US.

Fred Sanders did an excellent job of narrating the book. He certainly sounded as if he was interested in the topic, too. It's not always been my experience with readers of non-fiction. Sometimes if the subject doesn't float their boat; the listener kens. A smile can help modulate the voice. And I think Mr Saunders smiled through this one. There were many subtle but effective vocal techniques he employed to differentiate the rogues and gentlemen and ladies and golddiggers you'll meet in Bubble in the Sun.

Recommended.