Posted November 16, 2007
A father and son reconnecting on an Alaskan river. A biography of a river running legend. An investigation into one of North America’s worst mountaineering disasters.
These are some of the themes found among the winners of the 2007 National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA).
The winners of this annual award program represent some of the finest outdoor writing and artwork were announced Nov. 14. The NOBA Foundation, Idaho State University and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education sponsor the awards program.
Awards are given in 10 individual categories.
“The overall quality of the entries was very high this year,” said Ron Watters, a professor emeritus at ISU and the chairman of the National Outdoor Book Awards. “Consequently, the judges awarded two winners in several of the categories.”
One of those categories was the Literature category. Sharing top honors is “Blue Horizons” by Beth Leonard. “Blue Horizons” is a beautifully written collection of vignettes about a six-year, 50,000-mile ocean voyage that she and a companion took around the world.
The other winner in the literature category is a book about fishing, rivers and fatherhood. Titled “Backcast” and written by Lou Ureneck, the book takes place on a remote Alaskan River. As the trip progresses, Ureneck reflects back on his own life while adroitly capturing the sometimes hilarious and sometimes serious interactions between himself and his son.
The two winners of the history/biography category include “The Very Hard Way” and “Forever on the Mountain.”
Authored by Brad Dimock, “The Very Hard Way” is a biographical work about Bert Loper, a legendary Grand Canyon river runner. Loper, however, wasn't the easiest subject to write about. He was an ordinary person, not particularly educated, never quite successful at anything.
Yet Dimock artfully combines his own exhaustive research with interviews, first-person stories, letters, and Loper’s own writing to fashion an absorbing portrait of his life.
“Forever on the Mountain” is an engrossing narrative of one of North America’s most controversial mountaineering accidents. In 1967 seven climbers were caught in a storm on Mt. Mckinley. All died.
Extensive investigations by author James M. Tabor shed new light on the tragedy. But Tabor is more than a good investigative journalist; he is also an outstanding story teller, and once started, this is a book that is hard to put down.
Complete reviews of these and the other 2007 winners may be found at National Outdoor Book Award Web site at: www.noba-web.org.
The following is a list of winners:
• Outdoor Literature Category. Winner. “Backcast: Fatherhood, Fly-fishing, and a River Journey Through the Heart of Alaska.” By Lou Ureneck. St. Martins Press, New York. ISBN 9780312371517.
• Outdoor Literature Category. Winner. “Blue Horizons: Dispatches from Distant Seas.” By Beth A. Leonard. International Marine/McGraw-Hill, Camden, ME. ISBN 9780071479585.
• History-Biography Category. Winner. “The Very Hard Way: Bert Loper and the Colorado River.” By Brad Dimock. Fretwater Press, Flagstaff, AZ. ISBN 9781892327697.
• History-Biography Category. Winner. “Forever on the Mountain: The Truth Behind One of Mountaineering's Most Controversial and Mysterious Disasters.” By James M. Tabor. W. W. Norton & Company, New York. ISBN 9780393061741.
• Natural History Category. Winner. “Sky Time in Gray’s River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place.” By Robert Michael Pyle. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. ISBN 978039582812.
• Natural History Category. Honorable Mention. “Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West.” By Michael Punke. Smithsonian Books, New York. ISBN 9780060897826.
• Nature and Environment Category. Winner. “Condors in Canyon Country: The Return of the California Condor to the Grand Canyon Region.” By Sophie A. H. Osborn. Grand Canyon Association, Grand Canyon, AZ. ISBN 9780938216988.
• Nature and Environment Category. Winner. “White Paradise: Journeys to the North Pole.” By Francis Latreille. Abrams, New York. ISBN 9780810930940.
• Design and Artistic Merit Category. Winner. “Yosemite in the Sixties.” Photographs by Glen Denny. Essays by Kevin Starr, Steve Roper and Glen Denny. Patagonia and T. Adler Books, Santa Barbara, CA. ISBN 0979064909.
• Design and Artistic Merit Category. Winner. “Arctic Wings: Birds of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.” Edited by Stephen Brown. The Mountaineers Books, Seattle. ISBN 0898869765.
• Outdoor Adventure Guidebook Category. Winner. “Guide to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.” By Tom Martin and Duwain Whitis. Vishnu Temple Press, Flagstaff, AZ. ISBN 9780977674985.
• Children’s Category. Winner. “Peak.” By Roland Smith. Harcourt, Orlando, FL. ISBN 9780152024178.
• Instructional Category. Winner. “The Complete Mountain Biking Manual.” By Tim Brink. Ragged Mountain Press, Camden, ME. ISBN 9780071493901.
• Nature Guidebook Category. Winner. “Birds of Northern South America: An Identification Guide.” By Robin Restall, Clemencia Rodner and Miguel Lentino. Yale University Press, New Haven. ISBN 9780300108620.
• Outdoor Classic Award. “A Natural History of North American Trees.” By Donald Culross Peattie. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. ISBN 9780618799046.
• Work of Significance Award. “Connecticut Walk Book: The Guide to the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails of Western Connecticut.” Edited Ann T. Colson. Connecticut Forest and Park Association, Rockfall, CN 06481. ISBN 0961905263.
More information on the awards program is found on the National Outdoor Book Award Web site at: www.isu.edu/outdoor/books.
NOTE: Color scans (print quality), complete reviews, and other supplementary art work may be downloaded from: www.noba-web.org/bookrel07.htm.