Book briefs

Published: Sunday, January 5, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 4, 2003 at 11:24 p.m.

Journey through Florida's past

"Journeys with Florida's Indians" (University Press of Florida, $24.95) by Kelley G. Weitzel launches readers in grades four through eight on an adventure into Florida's past.

Combining accessible archeology and history, compelling fiction, and more than 50 illustrations, the book teaches young readers what it took to survive in wild Florida and helps them actively participate in the daily life of Florida's Indians as each chapter unfolds.

Alternating factual chapters are filled with maps, historical engravings and modern illustrations. Fictional chapters are narrated by Tenerife, a fictional Timucua Indian kidnapped by the Spanish as a child, whose tales about Florida's native cultures reflect his own escape and adventures on his journey home.

Unknowns who impacted Civil War

How did Julia Grant help her husband, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, win battles? How did Union Gen. James Ripley delay the end of the war? How did Joseph Anderson and George Rains keep the Confederacy supplied with cannon and gunpowder so efficiently?

"Bull's-Eyes and Misfires" (Rutledge Hill Press, $12.99) by Clint Johnson tells the stories of 50 people you've probably never heard of who dramatically changed the course of the Civil War.

In some cases, their heroic efforts helped their cause - such as "Crazy Bet" Van Lew, who gave the image of being a weird old lady so that out of her home in Richmond she could run the best spy network the North had. In other cases their tragic mistakes were disastrous, as in the case of Confederate Gen. William Pendleton, whose failure to place his cannon correctly at Gettysburg contributed to the South's defeat.

Clint, a native of Hardee County, is a Civil War reenactor and author of several books on the Civil War. He lives in North Carolina.

Opulent resorts of Gilded Age

As the rail barons who transformed Florida pushed their lines southward, they also created a string of resort hotels to attract wealthy northerners with an appetite for balmy climates and luxurious accommodations.

In "The Architecture of Leisure: The Florida Resort Hotels of Henry Flagler and Henry Plant" (University Press of Florida, $34.95), Susan Braden tells the story of the magnificent pleasure palaces created by Plant and Flagler and the impact of their conspicuous scale and opulence on the Florida wilderness.

Braden's research draws upon architectural plans and archival resouces, as well as memoirs and accounts written Gilded Age visitors and employees, to re-create the experience of Florida's winter resorts.

Floorplans and abundant illustrations - many never before published - make this book a richly visual documentation that will appeal to architectural historians, preservationists, and general readers curious about Florida's pioneering tradition of exotic escape and the resplendent structures in which it was born.

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