Narrett’s book takes a look at the intrigues that surrounded a portion of the Gulf coast in a period of unsettled transition. It’s far enough off the track of the usual topics of the colonial period to be nearly completely unfamiliar to me. But it’s surrounded by things a bit more familiar.

At the end of the Seven Years War, England acquired Florida from Spain, and broke it into two administrative parts: East and West Florida (with West Florida including the modern panhandle, southern Alabama and Mississippi, and a bit of modern Louisiana), while France secretly handed Louisiana over to Spain as something of an apology for getting them into this mess. This starts the 41-year period of the book, which examines the unsettled nature of power in the area, which comes to a close when the United States purchases Louisiana from revolutionary France, who’d effectively taken it off Spain again.

The main focus is West Florida, which became the main focus of British efforts in the area until they handed the Floridas back to Spain after the Revolutionary War, and the lower Mississippi river, which was already the focus, in one way or another, of all European settlement in the interior of the continent. There’s a few different tracks followed through the book, but the main one is of various individuals who try to make their fortunes in the area, generally by trying to influence the decision-making of one or more governments with promises, bribes, threats of invasion (and one or two actual invasions/raids), or tales of someone else preparing one.

The Indian tribes living in the interior of the region are discussed from the beginning, but don’t get a lot of focus, though they gain some at the end, as efforts to manipulate some of these groups joins the list above. More time is spent on groups of settlers (but at a remove that they don’t gain much more character than the Indians), and various government policies (most especially Spain’s attempts to keep its currency supply internal vs everyone else’s attempts to force open trade).

I’d like to have a bit more detail on the sizes of populations involved. There’s a little at the beginning, but an idea of the population shifts in the area as a whole, and a rundown of just what Indian tribes were there would have been informative. But, this isn’t a book about populations, it is about the individual efforts mentioned above (‘adventurism’) and how the situation let people make these attempts.