Author to Speak on Florida in WWII

A presentation called “War in Paradise: World War II in Florida” will be at 6 p.m. May 11 at the Fernandina Beach Branch Library. The speaker is author Eliot Kleinberg, who has written many books about Florida history, including “War in Paradise.”

In the first weeks after Pearl Harbor pulled America into a two-front war, Germany’s U-Boats worked with impunity. Off Florida alone, they sank 24 ships.

Some of Florida’s very features that attracted tourists made it a logical place for soldiers as well. The state, a strategic asset for its geography and climate, became an armed camp. Hotels turned into barracks, and hospitals, bases and airfields increased from 8 to 172 by 1943.

The sleepy southern state became one of the nation’s hotspots, and Florida would never be the same.

This program is funded by a Florida Talks grant from Florida Humanities and is sponsored by the Friends of the Fernandina Beach Library and the Hampton Inn & Suites Amelia Island-Historic Harbor Front.