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Best Books About Miami

Like the sand and swamp the city of Miami arose from under the nurturing eye of founder Julia Tuttle in the late 1800s, the city remains a study in contradictions. Visible resplendent beach-side skyscrapers bejewel the skyline, building a wall of affluence that cordons off drugs, gangs and violence. Recognized as the 'Mistress of the Caribbean,' a variety of books about Miami explore the contractions and contradictions of the Magic City.


"Miami: The Magic City"
by Arva Moore Parks
Steven Brooke, Photographer
Publisher: Thunder Bay Press

Historian Arva Moore Parks has been recognized as "the person who knows Miami best." Part coffee table book and part authentic travel tour,  Parks and photographer Steven Brooke present the reader with nothing short of the 'official' history of a city risen from marshland. Whether you know the buildings and institutions featured or not, this book will educate and exhilarate.


"Miami: Then and Now"
by Carolyn Klepser and Arva Moore Parks
Publisher: Thunder Bay Press

This collaboration between noted Miami authority Arva Moore Parks and independent researcher Carolyn Klepser is part of the successful "Then and Now" series. The volume chronicles the development of Miami from Coconut Grove to Biscayne Bay, using historic and contemporary photography coupled with informative captions describing the development of this jewel city by the bay.

Related: Best Literary Landmarks In Miami


by Joan Didion
Publisher: Vintage

Noted author and historian Joan Didion chronicles more Miami history than a blowfish has stingers. From Fidel Castro raising money in Miami with which to overthrow Batista to the murder rate, cocaine trafficking, political passions and pitfalls and the ceaseless chronicle of immigration and exile community politics, Didion shines a light on aspects both hidden and obvious for residents and curious readers.


"Miami Babylon: Crime, Wealth and Power—A Dispatch from the Beach"
by Gerald Posner, Alan Sklar
Publisher: Tantor Media

The city of Miami Beach has spawned tantalizing temptation born of the drug trade, money laundering, corrupt politics and the intoxication of the newly inexperienced rich. Historian and best-selling author Gerald Posner chronicles the never-before-told story of the rise of Miami Beach in a tale that glows neon and bleeds oceans of blood spilled in the name of the cocaine trade. For the reader---and in the words of one of the book's characters---this story "makes 'Scarface' look like a documentary."


"Black Miami In The Twentieth Century"
by Marvin Dunn
Publisher: University Press of Florida

Containing never-before published, first-hand historical accounts augmented with over 130 photographs, Garth Reeves, publisher emeritus of the black Miami Times newspaper calls this book "…a necessity for any African American who has ever lived in Dade County, or South Florida for that matter." Author Dunn traces the history of Miami's black community beginning with the very first black pirates of Biscayne Bay over 100 years ago, chronicling the arrival and migration of blacks throughout Miami-Dade county, as well as their triumphs and travails in a multi-ethnic community struggling to cope with sudden growth and engrained southern racism.


"Historic Photos of Cuban Miami"
by Jennifer Ortiz
Publisher: Turner

By virtue of geography and political history, Miami and Cuba go hand in hand. Since 1959 when the first Cubans rafted to Miami to escape the brutal regime of Communist dictator Fidel Castro, Miami has been the beacon of a fresh start, freedom and the promise of the American Dream. Using over 200 black-and-white photographs with informative introductions, the author tells the story of the Miami Cuban community from the wet-foot-dry-foot immigration policy to the assimilation of new arrivals and their unique impact on a community that has gone from Anglo to largely Hispanic in culture, arts, décor, cuisine and language.

Related: 5 Must-Read Books By Miami Authors

Glenn Osrin is a journalist and seasoned consumer products sales professional living in Miami, Florida. A new vegan, his most recent assignment is writing about the benefits of a plant-based diet and lifestyle while learning about the Miami vegan community. His work can be found at

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