Monthly Archives: May 2014

Beach reading par excellence

Review by Phil Jason

No Sunshine When She’s Gone, by Kate Angell. Kensington Books. 288 pages. Paperback $9.95.

You like baseball? You like beaches? You like shapely, hot babes? You like chiseled, sexy guys? You like lavish houseboats and penthouse condos? Yes? Then grab ahold of the third title in Kate Angell’s Barefoot William Series and get ready for waves of tension-filled romance.  NoSunshineWhenShesGone

Jillian Mac and her good friend Carrie have been sent to the Gulf Coast beach town of Barefoot William by their employer, the Richmond Rogues major league baseball team. Both women are in their early thirties, good-looking (though Jill has the edge here), and – of course – single. They are tasked with the community relations effort accompanying the new spring training facility that the team is building in this laid back resort town.

The town seems to be the private domain of one extended family – the Cates family. They own many of the businesses, including a successful construction company run by Aidan Cates. This company has the contract to build the Richmond Rogues complex.

However, the town recently made peace with its more upscale neighbor, Saunders Shores, in conjunction with a marriage that joined the Cates and Saunders families.

In the launching scene of the book, Aidan Cates is coaxed into visiting a fortune teller by a woman named Lila who seems to be chasing after him with some success. There is a gathering of well-known psychics taking place on the Barefoot William boardwalk. Though most of the booths for psychic readings have long lines, one is not busy. Lila and Aiden soon engage with an attractive clairvoyant named Aries Martine, but the shapely psychic exposes Lila as a two-timer who is only a using Aidan.

Or so it seems. Certainly Lila is exposed, but the woman in the chair is Jillian Mac. She had sat down to rest at the empty station and just played along with the false assumption that she was Aries the clairvoyant. It was her idea of fun, but it led to bad feelings and mistrust before the powerful connection felt between Jill and Aidan began to develop.

As Aidan is witness to Jillian’s professional skills at work – including arranging all the details for a promotional, community-building softball game between Rogue alumni and locals – he begins to admire her more and more. However, her attraction to telling little white lies keeps Aidan cautious. In this situation, he is the more conservative one while Jillian seems more spontaneous and flamboyant. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the May 29, 2014 Naples Florida Weekly, the June 4 Fort Myers edition, and the June 5 Bonita Springs and Port Charlotte/ Punta Gorda editions, click here Florida Weekly – Angell 1 and here Florida Weekly – Angell 2

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A contemporary legal thriller set against Holocaust background of betrayal and denial

Once We Were Brothers, by Ronald H. Balson. St. Martins Griffin. 378 pages. Trade paperback $15.99.

This dazzling debut by a Chicago trial attorney takes chances and manages to survive them. Told largely in the words of an eighty-three year old Holocaust survivor who has led a quiet life in Chicago, it follows Ben Solomon’s pursuit of justice. Convinced that he has discovered his boyhood friend, a man who became a Nazi soldier, Ben confronts powerful tycoon and respected philanthropist Elliot Rosenzweig and insists on bringing him to justice for crimes in Poland during WWII.  oncewewerebrothers

At a posh event at the Civic Opera House, Ben approaches the man he believes to be Otto Piatek, who was raised in the Solomon home for many years. Rosenzweig bares his concentration camp tattoo and insists that Ben is confused and that he, Elliot, is actually a Holocaust survivor. Ben, who holds an empty Luger pistol to Elliot’s head, is arrested but soon released.

Ben convinces a reluctant lawyer to explore his case. She wants to know what hard evidence he has, but Ben insists that she must hear the long, winding story of his growing up in Poland, the relationship between the Solomon and Piatek families, the effects on their lives of the Nazi rise to power, Otto’s return to his mother and father, and his re-emergence as an SS officer. The lawyer, Catherine Lockhart, once a fast-track attorney but now rebuilding her damaged career, is a hard sell. Eventually, she succumbs to Ben’s story, his dedication to his mission, and his personality.

Although taking this case leads Catherine to lose her job, it also makes her come alive: she is doing something that she believes in and that can make a difference.

One of the many chances the author takes is to present so much in one voice within a third person narration. The dialogue would seem to overwhelm other story-telling devices, the action held inside of Ben’s narration. Mr. Balson’s skill allows him to get away with this decision. He finds the right breaks in the story – breaks that the reader needs (often formal chapter divisions) and breaks occasioned by Catherine’s need to get other things done that she has let slide.

More importantly, the strength of Ben’s story is so compelling that those of us vicariously listening as Ben speaks to Catherine can barely let ourselves put the book down.



Balson has fleshed out the Poland in which his imaginary personalities lived during the rise of Hitler and the near-demise of the Nazi regime’s scapegoat population. Within the carefully researched and magnificently rendered historical setting, he has built a group of credible and highly individualized characters whose destiny is intrinsically linked to time and place.

We admire the sympathetic, caring nature of Ben’s parents, the glow of Ben’s growing love for Hannah as both of them cross from childhood to adulthood, the sturdy moral nature of Hannah’s father, the generous and courageous risk-taking of many individuals who make the survival of Ben and others possible.

We struggle to understand the strange transition of Otto from a boy who calls the Solomons his true family to a Nazi instrument of cruel dehumanization and devastation.

The story of the two boys is a microcosm for the broader story of all those times and places when and where people of different persuasions and traditions lived in harmony . . . until something corrupted their shared world.

Balson’s book is divided into three sections: “The Confrontation,” “Ben Solomon’s Story,” and “The Lawsuit.” In the final section, Liam, Catherine’s long-time good friend, turns into a major player as the legal battleground becomes one in which he and Catherine are pitted against the enormous clout of the law firm representing Otto/Elliot. As Catherine’s primary investigator on this case, Liam risks losing the big-firm clients he has attracted. However, he too is compelled by Ben’s story. Liam’s love for Catherine, slowly acknowledged and returned, becomes an even greater driving force in his decision.

In the closing section Ronald H. Balson’s legal expertise is put to excellent use. The author develops a fully engaging, meticulous picture of how the case against the celebrity philanthropist is constructed. He gives almost as much detail to the schemes and threats of Rosenzweig’s minions.

Throughout the novel, the possibility of failure is kept dangling. Perhaps Ben is deluded and has identified the wrong man. If he is on target, perhaps his team will fail. How Balson balances these possibilities against the sympathetic reader’s hopes and the progress of the intricate case is a cause for admiration.

Also to be admired is Balson’s portrait of today’s Chicago. But this review must end!

This review appears in the June 2014 issue of Federation Star (Jewish Federation of Collier County), L’Chayim (Jewish Federation of Lee and Charlotte Counties), and The Jewish News (Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee).

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A history-mystery novel wrapped in romance and love of place

The Popping Cork Murder, by Mitch Grant. Create Space. 430 pages. Trade paperback $16.00.

Last fall, Mitch Grant came out with his first “St. James City, Florida Mystery.” Though the book is billed as a novel, and there is no better label for it, it really combines several categories of writing into something at once unique and a bit unsettling.

The most successful element is Mr. Grant’s homage to the area’s natural beauty. He also, through his surrogate narrator Jim Story, enjoys the independent spirit of the community, its relative isolation, and the friendly atmosphere of St. James City and by extension all of Pine Island, one of several intriguing barrier islands off Florida’s southwestern Gulf Coast. PoppingCork_front

In elaborating on these attractions, the author goes far beyond the needs of his story line into chamber of commerce enthusiasm. Still, it is fun to follow Jim and his wife Jill, victims of topophilia, into the handful of eateries and bars that dot the tiny town (actual places). We eavesdrop on the good-natured chatting that accompanies the drinking and eating. Getting to know the routes from here to there, the dangers of boating in shallow water, the technique of popping cork fishing, and the colorful history of these islands is certainly pleasurable.

And that history is intimately connected to the murder plot, so let’s get to it. Before Jim and Jill moved to St. James City, Jim’s work friend Javiar showed an interest in the place and planned to be an early visitor. Once he arrives, he stays a week with his friends and then rents nearby for another week. Javiar is filled with questions about anything and everything, and he asks them at a frantic pace. Though he pretends to be interested in the fishing, his real interest seems to lie elsewhere.


He learns his way around the islands, rents a boat, carouses with the locals until all hours of the night, and is seen less and less by Jim. One night, a local fishing guide visits the Story home with the bad news that he found Javiar murdered on Punta Blanca.

The mystery of who killed Javiar and why has to do with Javiar’s Spanish background and especially his particular lineage; the rumors of gold buried on coastal islands and ships at the bottom of the sea with gold treasure; pirates and politicians; and the tangled relationships among Spain, the United States, and Cuba back at the turn of the twentieth century. The lineages of several important families long established in this corner of the Florida peninsula also receive detailed attention. Indeed, even the Collier family is described, and – as the author puts it – “used fictionally.”

Jim and Jill develop a strained and limited partnership with Lieutenant Mike Collins of the Lee County Sheriff’s Department, the man in charge of the investigation. They sometimes work together, sometimes independently, in tracking down possible suspects and motives. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the May 22, 2014 Naples Florida Weekly, the May 28 Fort Myers edition, and the May 29 Bonita Springs edition, click here Florida Weekly – Mitch Grant 1 and here Florida Weekly – Mitch Grant 2.

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 I am posting this old, old poem as Jewish worshippers enter — as part of the liturgical cycle — the fourth book of the Jewish Bible. Conventionally called Numbers, its name in Hebrew is B’Midbar, as is its first section. Roughly, “In the Wilderness.” I’m prompted to post it after reading former Senator Joseph Lieberman’s fine WSJ commentary on the need to balance freedom with law; or, more accurately, the developmental arc between the Jewish Holy Days of Passover (the gift of freedom) and Shavuot (the gift of Torah).

Near the beginning of their sojourn in the Wilderness,

the Lord sought to orient these covenanters,

to offer them some markers

against the fading certitudes of slavery.


He ordered Moses to count the population,

at least those of military age,

and now they had some sense of magnitude –

they were a presence

against the nothingness of their horizons . . .


and then He told them, through his prophet,

how to arrange themselves, in tribes,

around the tabernacle,

protecting the Kohanites and Levites.


And now their being in the wilderness

had both quantification and design.


The counting came often, as it had before:

how many of each offering each leader should bring,

and the listing of tasks assigned . . .


But first came the covenant and the commandments:

here was the plan against the wilderness,

the desert within.


Here was the design of a people’s spirit

with all the guideposts, distasteful as manna,

to keep two million souls from getting lost.


Later, the priests were told just how

to aim the light from the menorah,

which radiated into sacred time:

the Sabbath at its center,

the framing six days of creation

– three before, three after –

(but really no before and no after)




          –Philip K. Jason

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Florida Heritage Book Festival

Honors Robin Cook during its 3-day festival and writers’ conference.

Ft.Myers magazine – Robin Cook

Florida Heritage




 SEPTEMBER  25, 26, & 27.   Website:

A major part of the Florida Heritage Book Festival is the Writers Conference, which attracts well over one hundred writers from all over the southeast. They come to learn, to be inspired, and to network with other writers. For the first time, this year’s Writers Conference will take place at Flagler College and include critique workshops, and multiple sessions on the craft and business of writing. The conference faculty consists of true professionals, some of whom, like John Dufresne and Vicki Hendricks, are among our Featured Authors.


Florida Heritage Writers Conference Schedule

September 25—26, 2014

Flagler College, St. Augustine, FL


Join us for two very different days dedicated to the working writer committed to improving his or her craft through face-to-face guidance by writing professionals. Whether you’re a veteran or an emerging talent looking for that spark of inspiration and feedback on your writing, the FHBF Writers Conference can help you.

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Love flowers in bright bouquet from LuAnn McLane

Wildflower Wedding, by LuAnn McLane. Signet/Eclipse. 304 pages. Mass market paperback $7.99.

This latest addition to Naples resident LuAnn McLane’s popular Cricket Creek series is filled with romance, misunderstandings, fear of failure, small town warmth, and the continued post-recession economic resurgence of this (for the most part) friendly Kentucky river town.

Young Gabby Goodwin, a social outcast in her high school days because she came from the wrong part of town, has made her way to a degree of success as owner of a flower shop. Back in high school, she had a crush on notorious bad boy Reese Marino, but she kept it to herself for fear of rejection and because of concerns about troubled Reese’s wild behavior.   WildflowerCover

Now, after having been straightened out by living with his Uncle Tony in New York, Reese is a college graduate who has remade himself without losing his charming good looks. He has returned to Cricket Creek with his uncle, and the two of them have opened River Row Pizza. Uncle Tony is still recovering from his wife’s betrayal, and his anger is manifest in many ways. Reese returns to a place in which he and his mother, Tessa, suffered unhealed emotional wounds from the unexplained disappearance of Reese’s father some ten years back. The guy just up and left and hasn’t been heard from since.

Then there’s Trish Daniels, a gorgeous woman who is more than a bit gun-shy herself in the wake of a failed marriage.

Not a great background for romance, you might say. You’d be wrong. You don’t know LuAnn McLane.

To complete a multi-generational pattern of budding romance, the author focuses on Clyde, the Don Juan of the Whisper’s Edge retirement village, as another resident named Joy tries to make him a one-woman man.



The common theme through the major potential pairings is an insecurity based on past experiences – a fear of getting hurt again. Reese worries about still being plagued by his past reputation. Can he really start fresh back in Cricket Creek? Can Gabby think of him without being reminded of his youthful, mixed up self? Can “river rat” Gabby hold her head up in a town where she was a social outcast?

For the middle-agers who are suffering the pain and humiliation of failed relationships, can they risk once again putting their hearts on the line? Can Tessa find closure after the disappearance of her husband?

Knowing the patterns of romance literature, we expect that things will turn out well. However, LuAnn McLane’s skill is in managing to create strong suspense elements even as the familiar formula guides the plot lines. She accomplishes this by being able to get into the heads of her characters and by building several missteps along the way. . . .

To the entire review, as it appears in the May 14, 2014 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the May 15 Bonita Springs and Naples editions, click here Florida Weekly – Wildflower Wedding 1 and here Florida Weekly – Wildflower Wedding 2

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Death of a Holy Land

In Death of a Holy Land, professor Rose Levin­son shares her insights about the death of the Zionist narrative’s hold on Israel’s citizens. Through careful and intelligent readings of eight contemporary Israeli novels (aren’t all Israeli novels contemporary?), she invites readers “to look anew at Israel as a country unprotected by the notion of exceptionalism.” Levinson’s study guides us through two novels each by Yoram Kaniuk, Orly Castel-Bloom, Michal Govrin, and Zeruya Shalev. The author finds recurrent themes of distorted identities, barren relationships, suicidal impulses, and under­mined myths: most notably, the myth of the superhero “New Jew.”  HolyLandCover

 To see the entire review, as posted on the Jewish Book Council website and slated for use in the Summer 2014 issue of Jewish Book World, click here.  Death of a Holy Land: Reflections in Contemporary Israeli Fiction by Rose L. L

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Michael Lister’s crime-fighting prison chaplain is complex and classic

“Rivers to Blood,” by Michael Lister. Pulpwood Press. 280 pages. Hardcover $26.99.

This, the sixth “John Jordan Mystery,” finds the chaplain/detective sleuthing through a pile of criminality, much of it quite hideous. We immediately learn that an inmate at the Potter Correctional Institute, a state prison on the Florida panhandle, has escaped with just a few weeks left on his sentence. About to become a free man, why would he put that freedom at risk? John joins others in the manhunt, including members of the sheriff’s office headed by his father Jack. RiverstoBloodCover

During the hunt in the soggy woodlands, John thinks he hears an airplane engine and catches a glimpse of a plane perhaps head for a crash landing. Before long, John himself has a crash landing as someone smashes him on the back of his head. Getting back to his feet, he joins others at the prison transport van where a transport officer is found bloody and unconscious. The officer’s partner is found wearing an inmate uniform. So, where is the inmate?

Soon, the volunteer Potter County Search and Rescue Team is assisting the search. With the exception of one individual, the members of this group “shared the Southern good ol’ bad boy traits of tough-guy posturing, folksy anti-intellectualism, covert racism, and general xenophobia.” This is Lister country.

The next morning, PCI psychologist DeLisa Lopez tells John that there is a serial rapist attacking male victims both inside and outside the penitentiary and forcing them to sodomize themselves.

So what do a falling airplane and a runaway inmate have to do with this latest and most heinous heap of trouble? I don’t think I’m going to tell you.



What I am going to tell you is that in “Rivers to Blood” Michael Lister probes the nature of depravity like no one else. And while he is doing this nastily gorgeous work, he is weaving a few other story lines into the tapestry in gorily addictive prose.

One underplot has to do with John’s father’s campaign for re-election, a campaign that for the first time finds the proud man rattled by the possibility of losing. Sheriff Jack’s vulnerability complicates his portrait as well as that of the Jordan family relationships. Brother Jeff, who shows clear hostility toward John, is part of that mischievous search and rescue team. Their mother, strangely on the periphery of John’s world, needs an organ transplant.

Another complication neatly grafted onto the main story line is John’s despairing loneliness. This inner situation, which comes and goes in intensity, derives in large part from his stunted relationship with the woman he loves. Anna, intelligent and beautiful, is – like John – emotionally wounded. Both have a desperate need for intimacy and a fear of it. And Anna is married. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the May 7, 2014 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the May 8 Naples and Bonita Springs editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Rivers to Blood

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 Fort Myers author closes sleuth series set in 18th century Venice

Whispers of Vivaldi, by Beverle Graves Myers, is the sixth and final installment in her Tito Amato Mystery series. Tito, whose voice has been ruined in an accident, is no longer the star castrato but the assistant and likely successor to Maestro Torani, the aging director of the principal opera house in mid-18th century Venice – the Teatro San Marco. This prestigious institution benefits from Senate sponsorship, but that benefit is being challenged by a rival company headed by the unscrupulous Lorenzo Caprioli.



What can be done to fill the seats and ensure the supremacy of Teatro San Marco, whose audiences have been diminishing? A dazzling production premiering a new operatic composition and featuring a fast-rising star castrato in the lead role might do the trick.

When a brilliant manuscript by a relatively obscure composer comes Tito’s way, it becomes his assignment – rather than Torani’s – to convince the Savio, overlord of artistic matters, to approve a production of “The False Duke.” The new opera will replace “Prometheus,” composed by Giuseppe Baldi, the San Marco’s lead violinist, already in rehearsal.

And, just as fortunately, a deal can be struck with the Milanese castrato Carlo Vanini, known as Angeletto, to sing the title role. In fact, the Savio’s spoiled young daughter Beatrice insists on it.

The pieces are coming together, including the construction of spectacular stage effects, to guarantee a grand success. However, the ugly murder of Maestro Torani threatens the production, the Teatro San Marco, and Tito himself who becomes the primary suspect.

An experienced if unofficial sleuth, Tito Amato needs to get to the bottom of this. He is given just a little room to investigate by the peacekeeping chief, Messer Grande.


Author Myers handles the process of Tito’s inquiry with great skill, including the inevitable false trails and sudden epiphanies. As Tito collects and interprets clues, peeling away possible motives to reveal operative ones, he continues to live with a clouded reputation and with worries about his own future and his family responsibilities. It no longer seems likely that he will succeed Torani.


Myers populates her carefully researched version of Venice with a wide cast of intriguing characters. Some have secrets that if exposed would bring ruin or at least shame. These individuals have motives to block Tito’s inquiries. Others have secrets that might affect their careers. The discovery that Torani was severely in debt raises new questions about motives to have him murdered. The nagging suspicion that Angeletto is not a castrato but a woman pretender adds an additional mystery.

While she has her readers follow the twists and turns of Tito’s dangerous pursuit of the truth, Myers elaborates her vision of Venice, making that vision fully half of the novel’s pleasure. Elaboration is the essence of Baroque art, whether in painting, architecture, or music.

There is a high degree of ornamentation in the fine and popular arts of Baroque Venice (though that period is slowly metamorphosing into the Classical period). The sensory detail in Myers’ style is at once realistic and ornamental in communicating the era. We enjoy the descriptions of buildings, rooms, furnishings and decoration. The attention to garments, fabrics, and fashions is part of the complex weave, as is the interest in spectacle and in the intricacy of Venice’s watery byways.

Elegance and corruption color the social texture of Venice. Indeed, “The False Duke,” which reminds Tito of Vivaldi, a master of baroque music, raises issues of class and blood lines that are issues in the novel’s present time and place.

Whispers of Vivaldi, then, is at once a suspenseful murder mystery and gorgeously detailed historical novel in which style and substance are mutually supportive and finally inseparable.

For more on this spellbinding author, see

Q & A with Bev Myers

Q: What led you to make Fort Myers your home?

A: My husband and I moved to Fort Myers from Louisville, Kentucky in August of 2013. Both of our children and their families settled in Southwest Florida and were singing its praises. The combination of gorgeous weather and being near grandchildren was irresistible.

Q: Architecture, furnishings and decorations, food, demography, clothing, the technology of watery Venice, etc. all get considerable attention. Describe your research goals and methods a bit.

A: Like any great novel, a mystery has to be anchored in time and space, so my goal has always been to immerse the reader in Tito’s world without interfering with the plot action. Sometimes I feel like I’m walking a tightrope in that regard. Just enough detail or too much? It helps to have a very clear picture of the 18th-century mindset–an understanding of the prevailing philosophies, religion, folklore; the people’s common fears and desires; their expectations for livelihood and marriage; and so much more. Knowing these things takes a great deal of research–mainly in the everyday history presented in memoirs and diaries–but it keeps my characters from sounding like 21st-century people wearing baroque costumes. The sensory details are easier. I’ve visited contemporary Venice and soaked in the atmosphere. I also own several art books devoted to exterior and interior scenes of the baroque era. I often pick out a painting and set my written scene within it. Tito’s music, of course, is still performed and recorded.

Q: What interested you about the castrato vogue?

A: The idea of a castrato protagonist first occurred to me when I read Anne Rice’s Cry to Heaven. This is a novel from Rice’s pre-vampire days that’s become a bit of a cult classic. Being an opera lover from way back and having a persistent fascination with Italy, Venice in particular, Cry to Heaven made quite an impact. I knew such a character would make a truly unique sleuth that I would not become bored with over a multi-volume series. Though each Tito Amato book is a complete mystery that can be read alone, the entire series can be enjoyed for the character’s development over a span of about 15 years. I started with Tito as a young man returning to Venice from a music conservatory in Naples. He is part of a dysfunctional family long before the term existed. Not surprisingly, qualms about his status as a castrato singer also bedevil him. Gradually, Tito grows to accept and even embrace his vocal talents and the opportunities they provide. He also learns to handle fame and jealous rivals, and overcomes a bout of ego excess. On a deeper level, the brutal surgery that was forced on Tito results in sensitivity toward other marginalized people and a compulsion to seek justice on their behalf. The Jews of the Venetian ghetto, friendless strangers, carnival acrobats and dwarves, and many more seek his help. Along the way, Tito makes a peace, of sorts, with his father and other family members.

Q: With this series now completed, what can readers expect from Beverle Graves Myers next?

A: First, I’m giving myself some time to wind down from the long distance move and the wrap-up of a series I’ve been writing for the past fifteen years. When I feel recharged, I may start a new series. I’ve become fascinated with the idea of bringing the gothic suspense novel–think Rebecca–into line with modern sensibilities. I love the setting of the isolated mansion wreathed in fog, but the naive heroine of yesteryear definitely needs an update.

To read the entire review as it appears in the May-June 2014 Fort Myers Magazine, click here: Ft. Myers Magazine May-June 2014 Bev Myers – see pp. 27-8.

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Penniman’s history rides out the storms over natural resource management

Nature’s Steward: A History of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, by Nick Penniman. Pineapple Press. 368 pages. Hardcover $24.95.

This is a book that should be in the library of every citizen and devotee of Southwest Florida. Each public and institutional library in the state should have several copies. Anyone interested in the interplay of environmental science, conservation advocacy, environmental education, and the politics surrounding natural resource protection and managed growth must read it.  PennimanCover

Is it easy reading? No. The issues at hand cannot be reduced to light fare. Yet “Nature’s Steward” is immensely engaging, charged by the author’s expertise, patient exposition, and passion for his subject. What makes reading it even more difficult is discovering how limited success has been over several generations. What makes it heartwarming is that matters could have turned out much worse, and that we are on the edge of accepting and acting sensibly on the hard truths that Mr. Penniman presents.

As Nick Penniman points out in various ways, effective policy making (let’s not yet thing about implementation) involves the constructive interaction of various levels of government, the activities of nonprofit groups like The Conservancy, the interests of community associations, the goals of residential and retail/commercial developers and investors, and the lifestyle/hobbyist voices (boaters, for example). You probably get the point already.

To make matters more complicated, the borders of cities, counties, and even specially defined regional planning districts hardly ever coincide with those of a natural system (a slough, watershed, you-name- it) that is threatened by development. Who makes the policy for what? In a way, everything in the natural environment is connected, but governmental jurisdictions only look inward – as do most special interest groups.



Private property rights are yet another interrelated factor.

In organizing his issues and sources (documentation), Nick Penniman found an effective tripartite plan: “Acquiring Land,” “Managing Growth,” and “Water.” Within these stages he orchestrates discussions of such topics – case studies, really – as “Big Cypress Swamp and the Fakahatachee Strand,” “Pelican Bay and Barefoot Beach” (contrasting studies in how to and how not to balance conflicting interests), and “Villages of Sabal Bay and Hamilton Harbor.” The discussions reveal how shifts in public and leadership opinion bring about cycles of advocacy, legislation, and enforcement at various policy-making and administrative/enforcement levels.

Throughout, Mr. Penniman keeps readers aware of the enormous responsibilities vested in the Army Corps of Engineers, an organization that often seems ill-equipped to meet those responsibilities. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the April 30, 2014 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the May 1 Naples and Bonita Springs editions, click here Florida Weekly – Penniman 1 and here Florida Weekly – Penniman 2.

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