The harrowing story of the rise and fall of one of America’s most popular destination cities—rife with police brutality, a drug epidemic, and a bulging refugee crisis—Miami 1980 is a riveting blend of urgent social commentary and cinematic drama, from the award-winning journalist and author of Ping Pong Diplomacy.
Today, Miami, Florida, famed for its blue skies and bikinis, is already one of the most popular vacation spots, with nearly 10 million tourists visiting annually. But few people have any idea how this unofficial capital of Latin American came to be.
Miami 1980 is a fascinating chronicle of a pivotal but forgotten year in American history. With a cast that includes iconic characters such as Jimmy Carter, Fidel Castro, and Janet Reno, this slice of history is brought to vibrant life through intertwining personal stories. At the core, there’s Edna Buchanan, a reporter for the Miami Herald who breaks the story on the wrongful murder of a black man, and the shocking police cover-up; Captain Marshall Frank, the hardboiled homicide detective tasked with investigating the murder; and Mayor Maurice Ferre, the charismatic politician who watches the case, and the city, fall apart.
A roller coaster of national politics and international diplomacy, these three figures cross paths and socio-economic lines as their city explodes in one of the worst race riots in American history—as over 120,000 Cuban refugees land on the Miami coast, and as drug cartels flood the city with cocaine and infiltrate all levels of law enforcement and government. In a battle of wills, Buchanan has to keep up with the 150% murder rate increase; Captain Frank has to scrub and rebuild his police department; and Mayor Ferre must find a way to reconstruct his smoldering city. Against all odds, they persevere, and a stronger, more vibrant Miami is born. But the new Miami—literally built on corruption and drug money—will have severe ramifications for the rest of the country.
Deeply researched and covering many timely issues including police brutality, immigration, and the drug crisis, Miami 1980 is both a clarion call and a creation story of one of America’s most iconic cities.
Nicholas Griffin is a journalist and author of four novels one work of nonfiction. His writing has appeared in The Times (UK), The Financial Times, Foreign Policy, and other publications on topics as disparate as sports and politics, piracy, filmmaking in the Middle East, and the natural sciences. Griffin has written for film and is a Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Miami 1980, and Ping Pong Diplomacy, which was shortlisted for the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.