This work, aimed at general readers and environmentalists alike, offers a dicussion of the formation, development and history of the Everglades, considered by many to be the most endangered ecosystem in North America. It begins with South Florida's geological origins and continues through the 20th century. Charting the effects of human intervention upon the region, the author traces its habitation from Calusas and other native groups to the modern period dominated by agribusiness. In between, he discusses the Spanish contract period, the first efforts to farm the region, the first attempts in the 1880s to drain it, and the era of the "engineering" Everglades that was largely created by the State of Florida and the US Army Corps of engineers. He argues that desire to convert the ecosystem to farm use continues to guide American thinking about the region at a tremendous environmental cost. He also contends that agriculture, especially sugar growing, must be abandoned or altered. To buy time for public debate over the final form of a sustainable Everglades, he suggests creation of a park modelled on New York's Adirondack State Park.