Frank G(ill) Slaughter Richard Match - Essay

Richard Match

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

"Florida has played a strange part in this war," observes a character in ["Storm Haven"]. "Her ports were occupied, or blockaded, almost from the beginning. Yet the Confederacy would have perished long ago without her help. When the history books are written she'll be called the master larder of the South—the stock breeder that kept the armies fighting."

It may be news to some present-day tourists that citrus-hung Florida has long been (and still is) one of our major cattle-raising states as well. To others who have ventured off the Gold Coast beach highways and seen the big beef herds which graze in central Florida it will come as no surprise. Trust Jacksonville's ingenious Dr. Slaughter to turn this neglected facet of the Florida story into another effective novel.

"Storm Haven" is a heaping prescription containing one part Florida Western (complete with a round-up in the South Florida wilderness, and a month-long "drive" to the railheads at the Georgia line), one part straight Civil War romance, plus a strong dash of the professional savvy which makes Slaughter doctor heroes operate so convincingly when the script indicates surgery. This tale will evoke no raptures from the Pulitzer Prize committee. But it will satisfy Dr. Slaughter's many fans. This is especially true of the chapters describing the transport of over a thousand head of cattle through the Florida wilderness—a complete story in itself, and an example of the author's ability to fuse history and colorful scenery into a dramatic whole.

Richard Match, "Surgeon, Cowboy, Lover," in The New York Times Book Review (copyright © 1953 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), October 4, 1953, p. 31.