Once Upon a Time in Florida
Stories of Life in the Land of Promises

Edited by Jacki Levine

Foreword by Nashid Madyun
Hardcover: $45.00
Hardcover ISBN 13: - Pub Date: Details: Subject(s):
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Available for pre-order. This book will be available November, 2023

Curated from the archives of FORUM, the award-winning magazine of Florida Humanities, this anthology presents 50 often surprising and always intriguing stories of life in Florida by some of the nation’s most talented writers and scholars  
Once Upon a Time in Florida transports readers into the eventful life and times of this remarkable state through 50 stories vividly rendered by some of the nation’s most acclaimed writers and scholars, along with 150 evocative images. This collection opens more than 14,000 years ago with the first people to inhabit the peninsula and continues through the state’s territorial beginnings, the era of slavery, statehood, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Jim Crow period, and Florida’s transformation into a complex, powerful megastate.  
Throughout, readers will encounter the unexpected: The myth-busting truths behind Ponce de Leon’s search for the Fountain of Youth; the real First Thanksgiving; the first legally sanctioned free Black town; the revealing wartime letters of novelist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings; the Jacksonville principal who penned the lyrics now known as the Black National Anthem; and the little-known story of how Mary McLeod Bethune saved World War II?era Daytona Beach. The stories also highlight Florida as a magnet for dreamers and doers, featuring the heady days of the Space Age seen through the eyes of a teenager; the secretive mission that brought Walt Disney to Orlando; the music culture that has churned out a stream of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers; and a look at how Florida’s glossy image has been indelibly shaped through the eyes of Hollywood.
Told through the lens of the humanities, at its heart this anthology is the story of what it means to be a Floridian. In these pages, folklorist Stetson Kennedy travels the back roads with novelist Zora Neale Hurston, capturing vanishing stories and songs. Former U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Latina in Congress, remembers her family’s early days as Cuban refugees. Novelist Lauren Groff describes how the writings of literary giants taught her to love Florida. Columnist Bill Maxwell and novelist Beverly Coyle, who grew up in the waning days of Jim Crow, share clear-eyed memories of experiences as different as black and white. And southern grit writer Harry Crews tells of a family memory evoked by the Suwannee River.
There is much more to discover in this vibrant anthology, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of Florida Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and presents selections from the timeless and treasure-filled archives of Florida Humanities’ award-winning FORUM magazine.    
Jacki Levine is a longtime Florida journalist. From 2017 to 2021, she was editor of FORUM, the award-winning magazine of Florida Humanities. Previously, Levine was managing editor of the Gainesville Sun for 14 years and founding editor of Gainesville Magazine. She grew up on Miami Beach and currently lives in Gainesville.

Distributed on behalf of Florida Humanities

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