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Miami Babylon: Crime, Wealth, And Power--a Dispatch From The Beach

by Gerald Posner
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publishing date: 13/10/2009
  • Language: Français
  • ISBN-13: 9781416576563
  • ISBN: 1416576568

Synopsis

Here, in all its neon-colored, cocaine-fueled glory, is the never-before-told story of the making of Miami Beach. Gerald Posner, author of the groundbreaking investigations Case Closed and Why America Slept, has uncovered the hair-raising political-financial-criminal history of the Beach and reveals a tale that, in the words of one character, "makes Scarface look like a documentary."

From its beginnings in the 1890s, the Beach has been a place made by visionaries and hustlers. During Prohibition, Al Capone had to muscle into its bootlegging and gambling businesses. After December 1941, when the Beach was the training ground for half a million army recruits, even the war couldn't stop the party. After a short postwar boom, the city's luck gave out. The big hotels went bankrupt, the crime rate rose, and the tourists moved on to Disney World and the Caribbean. Even after the Beach hosted both national political conventions in 1972, nobody would have imagined that this sandy backwater of run-down hotels and high crime would soon become one of the country's most important cultural centers.

But in 1981, 125,000 Cubans arrived by the boatload. The empty streets of South Beach, lined with dilapidated Art Deco hotels, were about to be changed irrevocably by the culture of money that moved in behind cocaine and crime. Posner takes us inside the intertwined lives of politicians, financiers, nightclub owners, and real estate developers who have fed the Beach's unquenchable desire for wealth, flash, and hype: the German playboy who bought the entire tip of South Beach with $100 million of questionable money; the mayoral candidate who said, "If you can't take their money, drink their liquor, mess with their women, and then vote against them, you aren't cut out for politics"; the Staten Island thug who became king of the South Beach nightclubs only to have his empire unravel and saved himself by testifying against the mob; the campaign manager who calls himself the "Prince of Darkness" and got immunity from prosecution in a fraud case by cooperating with the FBI against his colleagues; and the former Washington, D.C., developer who played hardball with city hall and became the Beach's first black hotel owner.

From the mid-level coke dealers and their suitcases of cash to the questionable billions that financed the ocean-view condo towers, the Beach has seen it all. Posner's singular report tells the real story of how this small urban beach community was transformed into a world-class headquarters for American culture within a generation. It is a story built by dreamers and schemers. And a steroid-injected cautionary tale.


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  • What a waste of such a fine writer!
    From Amazon

    Gerald Posner is a very good investigative reporter and I have enjoyed his earlier works. It was based on that enjoyment that I decided to read Miami Babylon and to be honest I looked forward too it. I have to admit that I was very disappointed by Posner's attempt to write a book that vacillated between expose writing and a homage to how great Miami Beach is. This book is so paper thin and weak that it offers nothing new. First of all read "Prince of Providence" if you want to read a book that shows what corruption is really like in a real city. The tales of decadence are easily beaten by the book "Summer of Sam" so I have to say this is quite a dull and lazy book that does nothing for the reader. Sad too because Mr. Posner's previous books were quite engaging and entertaining.

  • Could Babylon Be So Boring?
    From Amazon

    Gerald Posner provides the reader with an obviously well-researched book loaded with details of people and places. Mr. Posner's ability to create drama and excitement for a reader is, unfortunately, not as strong. Jim Krane's "City of Gold, Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism" is what this book could have been. Instead, the read is a bit of a slog. It feels as if Mr. Posner and his editor were too close to the facts and details and forgot the reader needs a story teller who colors people, events and places with a bolder stroke. A very noble attempt.

  • Miami Babylon Versus Fools Paradise
    From Amazon

    While everyone is entitled to their opinions I couldn't help but noticing that early reviewers seemed to include a number of people related to the book. For example I assume the poster "Alex Daoud" is the Alex Daoud who was Mayor of Miami Beach. That being said I think this is a well written and comprehensive overview of Miami Beach and my (independent) appraisal would be four stars. The author, Gerald Posner has written numerous books and the writing, chronological organization of the material and footnoting are all quite professional. The book begins with early development of the Miami era, the land boom during the 1920s, the decline through the 1930s and 1940s, the growth of Miami Beach after World War Two, the influx of elderly retirees, the devastating impact of the Mariel Boatlift from Cuba,the physical decline of the city, its rediscovery by early gentrification pioneers, the evolution of South Beach culture, "Miami Vice" and the cocaine cowboys, the South Beach nightlife, the zoning battles between the older residents and developers, the condo boom etc. The author, who apparently started interviews for the book in 2005, was somewhat beaten to the punch by another established author, Steven Gaines, who published Fools Paradise less than a year before this book. Both cover the same topic and time line; consequently there is a lot of overlap. Fools Paradise tends to go into more detail on the nightlife aspect of South Beach (i.e. modeling, the clubs, the promoters). I don't know if Gerald Posner re-focused Miami Babylon after publication of the earlier book. However Miami Babylon has a greater emphasis on the real estate redevelopment and zoning aspects. I note that one reviewer gave only one star on the basis that it covered "boring" real estate deals of no interest to that reader. I think that is unfair relative to the total scope of the book but it is undeniable that real estate aspects have a heavy weighting. I can recommend both books to readers interested in the subject of Miami Beach/South Beach. If choosing only one to read I would be guided by your interest in nightlife versus re-development.

  • Fascinating history of the American Riviera
    From Amazon

    A historical and detailed account of the Miami beach transition from swap land to Celebrity partyground. How the perfect combination of corrupt politicians,illegal drug money,gangsters,bankers,legitimate businessmen and artsy ground warriors unintentionally fused their interests to create the greatest american treasure in the sun.

  • Jimmy Carter's "good intentions," gone awry
    From Amazon

    Sunday Afternoon, 18 October 2009 At first, I thought to send this post to only my Miami and Miami Beach mailing list, but then I realized that MIAMI BABYLON has far reaching implications and of general interest: I met the Posners at our offices when they arrived for an appointment with Mark Soyka, to interview him for a book they were writing about Miami Beach, returning for a second interview. I had the privilege of corresponding with Gerald, via emails, a few times between, and after their visits, I responding to probing questions and attempting to give leads to the "movers and shakers" that had transformed a derelict, mostly forsaken sandbar, into what we refer to today as, South Beach. However, I had only arrived here in 1993, after Hurricane Andrew, and long after the astonishing and disturbing decade of the '80's, so I new only its more recent chapter, and only some of its characters, those of the 90's and later. I failed to make the book signing-launch at Books and Books, last Tuesday, even though Gerald had sent me a personal invitation, via email. But some good friends, seeing that I was "acknowledged," along with scores of others, at the back of the book, bought me an autographed copy and dropped it off, along with an article that appeared in the Miami Herald the following Thursday, which reported a few denials, and astonished reactions by some portrayed in the book. Just about everything I was hearing about the Posner's "tell all book," MIAMI BABYLON, lead me to think that it was just that: another tell all expose, much like that by many a scorned lover. I was not even sure I would have the time to read the dust jacket, let alone the first chapter and everything in between. But with the onset of winter today, which ushered in temperatures in the 50's and low 60's, I was not about to stray too far from the comfort of my wool throw, woven by hand, and bestowed on me last xmas, by a dear friend who knew well my intolerance for temperatures falling below 85! In fact, my throw and the autographed copy of the Posner's book were from the same thoughtful friend, giving me comfort and capturing my interest on this chilly day. At this time, I only want to make the following point, regarding Chapter 1, "Gasoline on Fire," the history of the 1980's, which made crystal clear that this was not merely a "tell all" expose: I have for the last 16+/- years heard countless comments about, and references to, the onslaught of Cuban (and Haitian) Refugees that invaded "God's Waiting Room," in the early '80's, but I admit to not having read a factual accounting of that period; for sure, hair raising and killing times. The chef culprit of the "Mariel Invasion" was always, without exception, laid at the feet of Fidel Castro. But only now, do I more fully understand who was really responsible for the events that unfolded, commencing on All Fools Day, April 1, 1980: President Jimmy Carter. And why does that not surprise me? It was his "Presidential Memorandum" that opened the doors, paving over our boarders, facilitating Castor's decision to "flush his toilets!" Oh, no doubt Carter's intentions were "good!" History is filled with "good Intentions," which almost always become the handmaidens of one form of calamity or another. "This was a very erroneous policy of the Carter Administration, to consider everyone who wanted to leave Cuba for the United States, as a heroic dissident," said Cuban vice president Carlos, Rafael Rodriguez. "The United States is now paying the consequences." And consequences she did pay...dearly. If reading the first chapter does not send chills up...and down....your spine......then perhaps you should have your spinal cord checked for damage. The most astonishing aspect of these times is that Miami, and the beaches, survived at all, let alone rose, like the Phoenix, from the burning landscape, decay and corruption, to become "God's Play Ground," catching the eye of the world and the imagination of many a immigrant, from North and South America, Europe, indeed all parts of the globe. The first hand accounts of Commissioner Alex Daoud were especially compelling, as he struggled to make sense of a society unraveling, as the shocking events unfolded day after day, night after night. But, in the end, good won out over evil, sanity over insanity, offering up hope for all humankind! Or has it? Once again, more "good intentions," and its handmaidens, insanity and calamity, are washing over our beloved sandbar...indeed, the entire globe. The outcome? Yet to be written. Perhaps, Gerald and Trisha Posner, will one day bestow us with, MIAMI BABYLON - Part II, for the saga continues. A must read. Ryan York SoBe

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