Michael Gannon, University of Florida distinguished service emeritus professor of history, was not surprised to receive a call from the St. Petersburg Times recently. "Ever since 1985 when a reporter unearthed my earlier writing (The Cross in the Sand), I can count on calls from around the country near Thanksgiving,'' said Gannon, 82. In his 1965 book, he reported that the Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés held a religious service with Indians giving thanks for the founding of St. Augustine in 1565. This means the first Thanksgiving celebration wasn't held in Massachusetts at all, but in Florida. Turkey was not on the table either. The meal included pork, garbanzo beans and wine. In 1985, a reporter with the Associated Press happened upon the information, and suddenly Gannon found himself in the news. Gannon is also the author of History of Florida in Forty Minutes.
What is on your nightstand?
Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: The Story of Success. It is very provocative, and it's in line with his previous books, Tipping Point and Blink. (Gladwell's new book is What the Dog Saw.)
What makes him a writer you go back to?
He finds highly unusual examples of human behavior, whether in success or failure, and then he explores it in an engaging way.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer