Every year, the Florida Book Awards honor the best work written by Florida authors and about Florida culture.

“As The Florida Book Awards continue to grow in stature and prominence, the competition for the prizes becomes more and more intense. We are absolutely thrilled that four University Press of Florida titles have been recognized this year with three silver medals and one gold. We salute each of the authors whose work was nominated, and congratulate all the winners,” say Dennis Lloyd, UPF’s deputy director of sales and marketing.

We are pleased to share the four UPF books that have taken home awards, including a win in the brand new category of General Nonfiction.  A full listing of the 2012 Florida Book Awards winners can be found here. More information about any of the books below can be obtained by clicking on the title.

Visual Arts, Gold Medal:

Weeki_Wachee_Mermaids_RGBWeeki Wachee Mermaids: Thirty Years of Underwater Photography

by Lu Vickers and Bonnie Georgiadis

Weeki Wachee became famous for its underwater amphitheater, where tourists flocked to see “mermaids” perform in the beautiful, crystalline-clear natural spring. In actuality, the mermaids were highly trained swimmers and divers—waving, smiling, doing spins and flips, and occasionally breathing through air hoses to stave off drowning. Not only could they dance underwater, they could ride bicycles, fight Captain Hook, eat bananas, and then guzzle soda.

Weeki Wachee Mermaids is a collection of rare, never-before-published images spanning from the first performance at Weeki Wachee, in 1947, to the extravagant “underwater Broadway” shows created for ABC-TV.  Photographs, postcards, and publicity shots are accompanied by text from Lu Vickers and Bonnie Georgiadis. Together they recapture the magic and allure that set Weeki Wachee apart from all the other springs in Florida, making it of one of the most unique tourist attractions in a state known best for such delights.

Lu Vickers is the author of Breathing Underwater; Weeki Wachee, City of Mermaids; and Cypress Gardens, America’s Tropical Wonderland. Bonnie Georgiadis is a former Weeki Wachee mermaid who lives in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

Visual Arts, Silver Medal:

Crawford&Bruek dj reviseThe Legacy of a Red Hills Hunting Plantation: Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy

by Robert L. Crawford and William R. Brueckheimer

The Red Hills region is an idyllic setting filled with longleaf pine grasslands that stretches from Tallahassee, Florida, to Thomasville, Georgia. At its heart lies Tall Timbers, a former hunting plantation turned ecological research station.

This is the cultural and environmental history of the Red Hills region, as well as the history of the plantation community. It spans thousands of years of human interaction with the land,  from Indian prehistory through European settlement, the Gilded Age, the twentieth century, and ending in the present.

Robert L. Crawford was formerly a biologist on the Tall Timbers staff and has contributed many articles to The Auk, The Wilson Bulletin, The Oriole, and other ornithological journals. William R. Brueckheimer was a Tall Timbers Beadel Fellow from 1973 to 1984.

Florida Non-fiction, Silver Medal:

Scent_of_Scandal_RGBThe Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World’s Most Beautiful Orchid

by Craig Pittman

Discovered in Peru in 2002, the Phragmipedium kovachii quickly became the most sought-after orchid in the world. Prices soared to $10,000 on the black market and otherwise rational people bent rules and broke laws in their obsessive quest to possess it.

Award-winning journalist Craig Pittman covered this fascinating story, as it happened, for the St. Petersburg Times, Florida’s largest newspaper. In this enthralling account, he unravels the tangled web of smugglers, scientists, and federal investigators to reveal who the real criminals were in this sordid affair.

This book is a volume in the Florida History and Culture Series, edited by Raymond Arsenault and Gary R. Mormino

Craig Pittman writes about environmental issues for the St. Petersburg Times. He is the coauthor of Paving Paradise: Florida’s Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss and author of Manatee Insanity: Inside the War over Florida’s Most Famous Endangered Species.

General Non-fiction, Silver Medal:

Links_RGBLinks: My Family in American History

by William A. Link

Arthur Link (1920–1998) was one of the great historians of his generation, a prolific author, and the foremost authority on Woodrow Wilson. Margaret Link (1918–1996), his wife and fellow North Carolinian, was the emotional core of the family. She helped form an interdenominational crisis ministry in Princeton and was a cofounder and president of the Association for the Advancement of Mental Health.

In Links, their youngest son—himself an accomplished and award-winning historian—offers a moving and unsentimental biography of two individuals who experienced the intense change and tumult of the South during the mid-twentieth century. He uses the lives of his parents as examples of how World War II, segregation, and the Cold War forever transformed the South and Southerners.

William A. Link is the Richard J. Milbauer Professor of History at the University of Florida. He is the author of numerous books, including William Friday: Power and Purpose in American Higher Education and Righteous Warrior: Jesse Helms and the Rise of Modern Conservatism.

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Please direct all media inquiries to: Teal Amthor-Shaffer, Marketing Manager, University Press of Florida, tas@upf.com,  (352) 392-1351 x 209

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