Frederick Karl's story portrays a group of Florida legislators and their political friends and enemies in a time of intense turmoil that marked the late 1950s and '60s in Florida. The 57 Club was the self-assigned name of the thirty-nine legislators first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1956. Karl's fascinating autobiography not only recalls those years, when Florida was in the midst of a transformation away from its rural, racially segregated, Deep South roots, but also offers intimate details into a half century of public service. By sharing his own experiences and reactions, describing what he witnessed or heard along the way, and telling stories about friends and colleagues, Karl gives readers a front row seat to some of the most captivating and turbulent moments in twentieth-century Florida politics. His insights into how the legislature functions - from the politics of committee assignments to the usefulness of lobbyists, from the savvy use of rules on the floor to debating skills, from polite ways of punishing unethical colleagues to the use of humor to calm angry exchanges, and much more - all make for an absorbing tale.
David R. Colburn is provost of the University of Florida. He is a professor of history, executive director of the Reubin O'D. Askew Institute on Politics and Society, and author of thirteen books, including The African American Heritage of Florida (UPF, 1995). Lance deHaven-Smith is the director of the Reubin O'D. Askew Institute on Politics and Society, executive director of the Local Government Commission II, and professor of public policy at Florida State University. His publications include The Florida Voter (Florida Institute of Government, 1995) and Environmental Concern in Florida and the Nation (UPF, 1991)