The Florida Book Awards are given every year to the best work written by Florida authors and about Florida culture. Chosen by three-member juries in nine categories, the awards are coordinated by the Florida State University Libraries. We are excited that five books published by the University Press of Florida are among the winners this year, alongside many other outstanding works. For a full listing of the 2013 Florida Book Awards winners, click here. Congratulations to all the winners!

We are pleased to share the University Press of Florida’s five award-winning titles below.


Florida Nonfiction, Gold Medal:

Tropic of Hopes: California, Florida, and the Selling of American Paradise, 1869-1929

by Henry Knight

After the Civil War, California and Florida emerged as America’s paradise destinations. Private companies, state agencies, and journalists all lent a hand in creating the seductive, expansionist imagery that promoted the semitropical states, selling the idea of an attainable paradise within the United States. Henry Knight examines and compares the way the two states were promoted and popularized as the American Paradise.

Henry Knight is lecturer in American studies at Northumbria University.


Florida Nonfiction, Silver Medal:

Zephaniah Kingsley Jr. and the Atlantic World: Slave Trader, Plantation Owner, Emancipator

by Daniel L. Schafer

This is a penetrating biography of a controversial figure who advocated just and humane treatment of slaves, liberal emancipation policies, and granting rights to free persons of color. Paradoxically, the fortune of Zephaniah Kingsley Jr. came from the purchase, sale, and labor of enslaved Africans. His unique life is revealed in this fascinating reminder of the deep connections between Europe, the Caribbean, and the young United States.

Daniel L. Schafer, Professor of History Emeritus and University Distinguished Professor at the University of North Florida, is the author of several books, including Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley, William Bartram and the Ghost Plantations of British East Florida and Thunder on the River: The Civil War in Northeast Florida.


Florida Nonfiction, Bronze Medal:

The Maroons of Prospect Bluff and Their Quest for Freedom in the Atlantic World

by Nathaniel Millett

During the War of 1812, ex-slaves, Red Sticks, and Seminoles fought alongside the British from a fort erected at Prospect Bluff in the Florida panhandle. This so-called Negro Fort became the largest maroon community ever to emerge in North America. Nathaniel Millett examines how the Prospect Bluff maroons constructed their freedom, taking a rare opportunity to examine black consciousness during the era of slavery.

Nathaniel Millett is associate professor of history at Saint Louis University.


Visual Arts, Gold Medal:

Enchantments: Julian Dimock’s Photographs of Southwest Florida

by Jerald T. Milanich and Nina J. Root

This book shares new photographs from the incomparable archives of Julian Dimock.  Dimock took thousands of photographs while trekking through the swamps and savannahs of Southwest Florida in the early twentieth century. Shedding light on these remote and wild lands, Dimock inspired interest and appreciation in people who never would have known such places existed. In vivid duotone reproductions from original glass negatives, Enchantments provides a unique and artistic view into Florida history.

Jerald T. Milanich is curator emeritus of the Florida Museum of Natural History, contributing editor at Archaeology magazine, and the author or editor of many books. Nina J. Root, director emerita of the Research Library at the American Museum of Natural History, is the coeditor of Camera Man’s Journey: Julian Dimock’s South.


Visual Arts, Bronze Medal:

Finding the Fountain of Youth: Ponce de León and Florida’s Magical Waters

by Rick Kilby

Juan Ponce de León’s fabled quest for the fountain of youth is tied to the image of the Sunshine State. Featuring reproductions of hundreds of eye-catching postcards, vintage advertisements, vibrant photos, and other “Ponceabilia,” Finding the Fountain of Youth shows how “magical” waters and their restorative powers have been used to promote the state to tourists and new residents alike. Moving beyond advertising and kitsch, author Rick Kilby also carries the story into the present day, addressing the very real problem of protecting Florida’s fragile springs and aquifers.

Rick Kilby is a graphic designer living in Orlando, Florida, and president of Kilby Creative.


All award winners will be recognized at a banquet on March 19 at Mission San Luis in Tallahassee. Gold medalists will attend a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion on March 20, and will be honored that evening at the Florida Heritage Month Awards Ceremony and Reception  sponsored by the State of Florida’s Division of Cultural Affairs.

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