Due to the overwhelming, positive response to our April “Quarantine Reads,” University Press of Florida is pleased to offer a new selection of free eBooks for the month of May. This month’s collection features biographies and memoirs, highlighting the lives of people—interesting, inspiring, and even infamous—from Florida and beyond.

You can enjoy the digital versions of these ten books for free on eReaders such as Kindle, Nook, and Kobo through May 31, 2020. To access any of these free eBooks, visit your favorite eBook vendor and navigate to the book of your choice.

We hope you enjoy these free reads.


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Two celebrated writers who were challenged by the color line
Crossing the Creek: The Literary Friendship of Zora Neale Hurston and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Anna Lillios

One of the twentieth century’s most intriguing and complicated literary friendships was that between Zora Neale Hurston and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Is there truth to the story that Hurston offered to work as Rawlings’s maid? Why did Rawlings host a tea for Hurston in St. Augustine? In what ways did each write the friendship into their novels? Anna Lillios examines these questions and many others in this remarkable book.

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America’s most infamous black outlaw
The Life and Crimes of Railroad Bill: Legendary African American Desperado
Larry L. Massey

In the late 1800s, Railroad Bill eluded sheriffs, private detectives, and bounty hunters who traveled across the country to match guns with the legendary desperado. The African American outlaw was wanted on multiple charges of robbery and murder, and rumor had it that he stole from the rich to give to the poor. In this book, Larry Massey separates fact from myth and teases out elusive truths from tall tales to ultimately reveal the man behind the bandit’s mask.

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A dancer who escaped suburbia for the stage
Rebel on Pointe: A Memoir of Ballet and Broadway
Lee Wilson

In this uplifting memoir, Lee Wilson describes how she grand jetéd from the stifling suburbia of the 1950s, a world of rigid gender roles, to the only domain where women and men were equally paid and equally respected—in grand, historic dance theaters and under the bright lights of the Broadway stage. The hard-won gains and the maddening setbacks of the gender revolution are seen here through the eyes of a young dancer searching for freedom, one “pas” at a time.

macdo002_500x500A scientist who dedicated her life to conserving Florida’s environment
Marjorie Harris Carr: Defender of Florida’s Environment
Peggy Macdonald

Marjorie Harris Carr (1915–1997), one of the twentieth century’s leading environmental activists, is best known for leading the fight against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Cross Florida Barge Canal. In this first full-length biography, Peggy Macdonald describes how Carr served as one of the most effective leaders of a powerful contingent of citizen activists who opposed dredging the canal across the state because it threatened an ecologically rich river valley.

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A governor of uncompromising principle
Reubin O’D. Askew and the Golden Age of Florida Politics
Martin A. Dyckman

Reubin Askew was swept into the Florida governor’s office in 1970 as part of a remarkable wave of progressive politics and legislative reform in Florida. In the years that followed, Askew led a group of politicians from both parties who sought—and achieved—judicial reform, redistricting, desegregation, the end of the Cross Florida Barge Canal, the Sunshine Amendment, and much more. This period was truly a golden age of Florida politics, and Martin Dyckman’s narrative is well written, fast paced, and reads like a novel.

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A self-made music mogul who created nearly fifty years’ worth of chart-topping songs
Phil Gernhard, Record Man
Bill DeYoung

From a tiny office and studio in Florida, Phil Gernhard launched a 50-year career producing hits that would rock the airwaves and resonate throughout the country. Through interviews with Gernhard’s musicians, business partners, family members, friends, and ex-wives, Bill DeYoung offers an intimate portrait of an eccentric and troubled musical genius who channeled his talent, ego, and ambition into the success of others.

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An African-born slave who died a free man in St. Augustine
The Odyssey of an African Slave
Sitiki
Edited by Patricia C. Griffin

Discovered as a hand-written document in the Buckingham Smith Collection at the New York Historical Society, this remarkable first-person narrative traces the life of Sitiki, whose name was changed to Jack Smith after his enslavement in America. Captured and sold into slavery as a five-year-old, Sitiki was freed after the Civil War and went on to become the first black Methodist minister in St. Augustine, Florida.

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A troubled FSU student and his invasion of the Florida State Capitol
Making Sense of Marshall Ledbetter: The Dark Side of Political Protest
Daniel M. Harrison

Early one morning in June 1991, Florida State University dropout Marshall Ledbetter used an empty whiskey bottle wrapped in a towel to break through the glass doors of the Florida State Capitol, the biggest security breach of the building’s history. This book thoughtfully and honestly explores the ways society manages deviant people in real-world situations and whether or not our law enforcement and justice systems are adequately equipped to handle mental illness.

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One of the most famous marine biologists in Florida
A Pioneer Son at Sea: Fishing Tales of Old Florida
Gilbert L. Voss
Edited by Robert S. Voss

In this memoir, Gilbert Voss (1918–1989), a celebrated marine biologist, recounts his early days of fishing on both coasts of the peninsula during the Great Depression and World War II. Here are vanished scenes from old Florida, almost unimaginable to modern residents of the state: gill-netting for mackerel off Jupiter, the early days of charterboat fishing for sailfish out of Stuart and Boynton, the snapper fleet at Carrabelle, sponge-diving at Tarpon Springs, the oyster fishery at Crystal River, and mullet fishing from airboats at Flamingo.

taylo08_500x500A spy and informer known as the most dangerous man in America
The Life and Lies of Paul Crouch: Communist, Opportunist, Cold War Snitch
Gregory S. Taylor

Paul Crouch (1903–1955) spent more than fifteen years working for the Communist Party: organizing American workers, meeting with Soviet leaders, and trying to infiltrate the U.S. military with Communist soldiers. As public perceptions of Communism shifted after WWII, Crouch changed into a vehement ideologue for the anti-Communist movement. How, and why, one individual could become a loyal foot soldier on both sides of the Cold War ideological divide is the subject of this fascinating, incisive biography.


These ten “Quarantine Reads” can be accessed for free from your favorite eBook retailer through May 31, 2020.

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