Oh, Florida!: How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country (Paperback)
A New York Times Bestseller
To some people, Florida is a paradise; to others, a punch line. As Oh, Florida! shows, it’s both of these and, more important, it’s a Petri dish, producing trends that end up influencing the rest of the country. Without Florida there would be no NASCAR, no Bettie Page pinups, no Glenn Beck radio rants, no USA Today, no “Stand Your Ground,” ...You get the idea.
To outsiders, Florida seems baffling. It’s a state where the voters went for Barack Obama twice, yet elected a Tea Party candidate as governor. Florida is touted as a carefree paradise, yet it’s also known for its perils—alligators, sinkholes, pythons, hurricanes, and sharks, to name a few. It attracts 90 million visitors a year, some drawn by its impressive natural beauty, others bewitched by its manmade fantasies.
Oh, Florida! explores those contradictions and shows how they fit together to make this the most interesting state. It is the first book to explore the reasons why Florida is so wild and weird—and why that’s okay. But there is far more to Florida than its sideshow freakiness. Oh, Florida! explains how Florida secretly, subtly influences all the other states in the Union, both for good and for ill.
About the Author
CRAIG PITTMAN is an award-winning journalist and the author of several books. He is a native Floridian and in 2013 wrote a popular blog for Slate called "Oh, Florida! " which became the genesis for his book of the same title, and which led to his appearance on TV and radio discussing why Florida is so odd and entertaining. He lives in St. Petersburg with his wife and two children.
“[Craig Pittman], always a character.”—Chris Matthews, Hardball with Chris Matthews
"Painstakingly reported and researched...compulsively readable. As much as his book is a celebration of Florida, it is also a celebration of journalism."—The New York Times
"An extraordinary catalog of 'weird Florida' . . . the definitive guide. [T]his fast-roving narrative has a rollicking pace that readers will enjoy."—Los Angeles Times
"Oh, Florida! is hilarious, creepy, and sobering. Craig Pittman makes the compelling argument that all of America is being warped by Florida's off-the-chart weirdness, which we eagerly export. This book should be required reading for anyone who's ever thought about moving down here, with or without a concealed weapons permit."—Carl Hiaasen, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Monkey and Skinny Dip
“Oh, Florida! brings readers in for laughs, but then gets them to stick around for the tale of a maddening, fascinating and wonderful place."—Tampa Bay Times
"Craig Pittman delivers a convincing case that Florida’s reputation for off-the-chain zaniness is not only historically accurate but an evolving carnival of delight. Pittman has deep roots in the state, and his joyous deconstruction is offered with the humor, zest and storytelling skill of a roomful of uncles telling tall tales at a family funeral. The stories [are] packed with all manner of hilarious factoids and unlikely anecdotes."—The Washington Post
"At points, the book is funny, thought-provoking, and infuriating, sometimes all at once, and it’s a credit to Pittman and his encyclopedic knowledge of the state and its history that readers accept the shockingly disturbing and frustrating alongside the shockingly silly. Oh, Florida! reminds us to always look beneath the surface; there could be crocs or treasure to be found."—San Francisco Book Review
"Craig Pittman is not only a brilliant humorist, he's a terrific historian and arbiter of all things Florida, past and present. Oh, Florida! is everything you hope it will be, yet so much more!"—Gilbert King, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Devil in the Grove
"Craig Pittman's Oh, Florida is the definitive compendium of Sunshine State weirdness, properly placing everything from the method of Ponce de Leon's demise through Linda Lovelace's contribution to film and the National Enquirer's journalistic acumen along the continuum of significant world affairs. What the Periodic Table of Elements is to science and the Junior Woodchuck Manual is to scoutcraft, Pittman's collection is to understanding the hotbed of the goony, the astoundingly tasteless, and the impossibly strange."—Les Standiford, author of Last Train to Paradise and the John Deal mysteries
"Pittman's bone-deep knowledge of Florida helps make the airtight case that weirdness has officially passed citrus as our state’s major export crop—and why the rest of the country should stop laughing and be very afraid."—Tim Dorsey, author of Coconut Cowboy and Florida Roadkill
"Craig Pittman digs for stories in the shifting sands and shifty characters of Florida and unearths gems and surprises on every page. Oh, Florida! is at once hilarious and full of heart. Masterful storytelling and research, layered with a strong sense of justice and a native Floridian’s born irony, make Oh, Florida! much more than a hashtag. Whether you’re dreaming of a sunny vacation, looking down at us in horror, or lucky enough to live here, Pittman brings perfect clarity to this flawed paradise."—Cynthia Barnett, author of Rain: A Natural and Cultural History.
"Florida, that sandy, sunny, coda hanging off the gothic Deep South, is the strangest of American states, half-land, half-water, all fantasy. Nobody knows the dubious history, fractious present and overall oddity of the place better than Craig Pittman. He writes like a trippy combination of Carl Hiaasen and Gail Collins, sharp as a stingray's tail, deep as a first magnitude spring and seriously funny. Oh, Florida! is a smart, sly wild ride of a book."—Diane Roberts, author of Dream State
"Whether or not you've seen albino scorpions big as lobsters drop from a loft in your mom's garage or waited out a hurricane in the Lightning Capital of the World, you need Craig Pittman's brilliant tribute to the Sunshine State. Rich in detail, from historic and political to criminal, from comic to bizarre, Oh, Florida! is swift, absorbing - and funny. It’s perfect for Floridians, snowbirds, tourists, in fact, for everybody out there. You'll see."—Kit Reed, author of Thinner Than Thou, Where, and Mormama
"Part travelogue, history, and memoir, it’s altogether best understood as the author’s quest to establish a Unified Theory of Florida’s Weirdness, and to make the argument that none of this is new. It’s an impressively difficult task, but it’s also one that Pittman, a veteran reporter and a Floridian by birth, is supremely qualified to undertake."—The Millions
"[A] unique and charming book that is part history, part travelogue, and part memoir,An inviting tour through Florida's personality and the colorful characters that make it up."—Kirkus Reviews
"This book is a fun romp through Florida's weirdness, wackiness, and wonder. This is must-read fare for readers of SCENE who can appreciate more than most what author Roxane Gay once claimed: "Florida is a strange place. I love it here, and I love how nothing makes sense."—Scene magazine
"This entertaining book will amuse and astonish Floridians and anybody interested in the absurdity of the Sunshine State or human nature in general."—Library Journal
"Truth may or may not be stranger than fiction, but at least in Florida, it's often funnier. Craig Pittman captures this with the skill of a serious reporter who recognizes a good story when he sees one - which is all he needed for a wonderfully entertaining look at our state."—The Tallahassee Democrat