Bubble in The Sun by Christoper Knowlton

Bubble in the Sun

Bubble in The Sun: The Florida Boom of the 1920s and How It Brought on the Great Depression by Christopher Knowlton is an engaging look at the economic, political, and social forces that led to the massive real estate boom in Florida during the 1920s.

The book is an important reminder of how speculation and unchecked optimism can lead to disaster, even if the consequences are not immediately apparent.

The story begins with the rapid expansion of railroads in the late 19th century, which made it easier for people to move to Florida from the northern states.

This was followed by a wave of speculative investments in land and housing that drove prices up to unsustainable levels. At the same time, a culture of fraud and corruption took hold, as developers and politicians sought to profit from the boom.

As the book shows, the Florida boom of the 1920s was fueled by a combination of factors: easy credit, speculative investments, political favoritism, and outright fraud. By the late 1920s, the bubble had burst, leaving behind a legacy of financial ruin and economic despair.

Knowlton does an excellent job of examining the causes and effects of the Florida boom, while also providing an entertaining narrative. His research is thorough, and he provides an accessible look at a complex economic event.

Bubble in The Sun is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the Great Depression and the role of speculation in economic cycles.

What I Liked

I loved how well written the book was. It’s a fast read with lots of funny anecdotes.

I loved how he directly paralleled the history to modern day. It’s not stuffy, irrelevant history. It’s directly applicable to what’s going any given day in the modern economy.

Florida is a hilarious topic (especially since I’m from Georgia). It’s a good pair read with Best State Ever.

What I Did Not Like

He never addressed the big contradiction of the book – the Bubble wasn’t wrong…it was early. All of the infrastructure and development and promotion that came from the Bubble was eventually used. All of the “ridiculous” and bankrupt developments of the 1920s are now multi-billion dollar, world-famous locations. If you had stuck out the crash…the promoters of Florida were right. It just took 100 years instead of 20. I think there’s a nuanced lesson here that the author never really touched on.


  • Easy credit, speculative investments, political favoritism, and outright fraud can create bubbles that eventually burst.
  • The consequences of a bubble bursting can be severe, leading to economic despair and financial ruin.
  • History can repeat itself if we don’t learn from our mistakes.
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