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New Novel 'Sunniland' Tells the Story of the First Oil Discovery in S. Florida During WWII

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Mike Kiniry and Stephen Sears on The Lucky Duck

In 1942 and 1943, German U-boats sank more than one hundred tankers in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, impeding the flow of crude oil to the refineries in the northeastern United States. This was war time, so in response, the American government encouraged drilling in South Florida, and it was discovered here first near Everglades City.

During this time, four German saboteurs landed by U-boat in Florida. These men were caught and subsequently executed. These largely forgotten historical facts form the foundation for the new novel "Sunniland" by first-time novelist Stephen O. Sears. Sunniland is the name of the oil field which was discovered. Sears is a recently retired faculty member from the LSU Craft and Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering. He joined us from a boat called The Lucky Duck which was docked in a marina in downtown Fort Myers.