Taylor, Paul. Discovering the Civil War in Florida: A Reader and Guide. Pineapple Press, Sarasota, FL. 2001. 240 pages 209 pages text. Index, bibliography, notes, b/w photos, maps. ISBN 1561642355 $18.95.
Being interested in the Civil War and living in Florida are not a good pairing. Little happened battle wise in the state and what did happen was of very little importance. This is not to say that Florida did not have value to the Confederacy but let's face it the state was far away from any major action. Despite this author Paul Taylor has written a book that anybody who is interested in Florida's role in the Confederacy should own.
Discovering the Civil War in Florida: A Reader and Guide is part history and part travel guide mixing the best of both worlds. Taylor divides his book into geographic regions and then further breaks each region down into various locations. This works effectively by allowing the reader to read this as a book or giving them ideas surrounding their intended travel location. The bibliography is also an importance reference for those wanting to do further research.
Each location is given a brief but for this work complete treatment. Each includes a section called "Summary of Military Activity". Here Taylor describes what happened and when including relevant notes. Readers are then given published works dealing with the area. This may include pieces from the OR, Confederate Veteran magazine, Florida Historical Quarterly or other sources. All include original publication information. This is not meant to include all the published work on these areas but just serves as a brief overview. When possible each location also includes "Today's Sites". This section gives the reader information on various points of interest. Included may be forts, museums, houses, memorials, etc.
This is a valuable resource for anybody living in or visiting Florida who has an interest in the Civil War. The book is in desperate need of revision however. Any travel related book that is 10 years old is woefully out of date. Museums can close, entrance fees are always changing, hours are subject to budget concerns, etc. With advances in technology GPS coordinates are almost a must in a book like this. Website information is not included either. By expanding this section the book would be even more valuable. I would also like to see better maps. Those included are just reproductions of period pieces that do not show troop movements. These issues aside, this is a must own book for Civil War researchers with an interest in Florida.