This might not be the most important book published on the borderlands but it is a fine book. Dr. Tanner has a great ability to make the product of original research into a most readable story—she combines wit with scholarship. The fourteen chapters give a vivid picture of Governor Vicente Manuel de Zéspedes y Velasco’s term as the first Spanish governor of the second Spanish period (1783-1821) of Florida. Dr. Tanner has a wealth of information about the social life and the customs of this period in Florida, something no one had yet sketched; most books of this period deal with the international conflicts and military raids into Florida. Her chapter entitled “Romantic Springtime, 1785” brings the reader some delightful true love stories which include Spanish boy-English girl situations and vice versa and their complications—and all taken from real Spanish documents never used before.
This was originally a Ph.D. dissertation directed by Dr. Irving Leonard. Every Ph.D. candidate should read this book and note how a history thesis can be made readable without destroying scholarship. Those of us who (as the reviewer has) have studied with Dr. Leonard know his great stress on style and on making a written product full of life and beauty. Dr. Tanner can only be commended for this book which will also add new data to Spanish Florida history.