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Idaho State University announces 2018 National Outdoor Book Award winners

November 15, 2018

Book cover of Edges of the Earth

POCATELLO, Idaho – A race to reach the North and South Poles. A trip down the Arkansas River. An investigation of a murder deep within the Grand Canyon.  These and more are among the winners of 2018 National Outdoor Book Awards. 

Sponsors of the program include the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Idaho State University and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.

The exploration of the North and South Poles is the subject of this year’s winner of the History/Biography category: “To the Edges of the Earth” by Edward Larson.  Larson concentrates on one year when explorers are on the verge of attaining some of the great prizes in polar exploration. 

That year is 1909.  Expeditions are underway at the top and bottom of the globe.  It is the year in which some of the great figures in exploration make their marks: U.S. Naval Officer, Robert Peary; African American adventurer, Matthew Henson; Italy’s Duke of the Abruzzi; and Britain’s Ernest Shackleton. 

“‘To the Edges of the Earth’ is quite simply great writing backed up by great research,” said Ron Watters, chair of the National Outdoor Book Awards.  “To give you some idea of the extent of the research for the book, Edward Larson, the author, travelled to the South Pole. If you enjoy adventure literature, you can’t go wrong with this book.”

Larson’s book is one of 14 winning books in this year’s award program. 

Awards are presented in 10, often highly competitive, categories.  The competition in the History/Biography category was so intense this year that the judges chose a second winner.

Elevations Book CoverThat second winner is “Elevations: A Personal Exploration of the Arkansas River” by Max McCoy.

The book describes McCoy’s kayaking experience on the Arkansas River from its source in Colorado, across Kansas to an ending point near the Oklahoma border.

“It’s not only a story about kayaking the Arkansas River, it’s also about the cultural history of the river,” said Jim Moss, an outdoor industry attorney and a long time judge for the program.  “McCoy does an excellent job of blending stories of the river’s past as he paddles his way downstream.”

The investigation into a murder in the Grand Canyon is the subject of the winner of the Outdoor Literature Category. Titled “Pure Land,” it was written by Backpacker Magazine’s Southwest Editor, Annette McGivney. 

McGivney’s research involved repeated trips down an eight-mile trail to the small Native American village of Supai and nearby Havasu Creek, a popular backpacker’s destination.

“This is an extraordinarily well crafted work,” Watters said. “Over a period of years, McGivney dug deeply into two lives, both who come from greatly differing backgrounds and cultures, and both who came together one fateful and tragic day. The deeper she digs, however, the more she finds her own life drawn into the narrative. In the end, the book is no longer about two lives. It’s about three.”

Naturalist at Large book coverTwo winners were selected in the Natural History Literature category.  The first is “A Naturalist at Large,” consisting of a collection of essays by Bernd Heinrich.

“Henrich is one of the finest nature writers of our time,” Watters said. “He writes in a down-to-earth, easy-going style that all can enjoy.”

The other winner in Natural History is “Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore” by Elizabeth Rush. Rush’s book addresses climate change and specifically focuses on the rise of sea level along America’s coastlines. She visits Maine, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Florida, Oregon and California, where she examines damage to coastal environments and interviews people whose homes and livelihoods are at risk or have already been washed away. 

John Miles, who is a judge for the awards program and the former dean of environmental studies at Huxley College, calls Rush’s book “a powerful work and a sophisticated analyses about one of the most pressing issues of our time.”

The winner of the Design and Artistic Merit category is “Sage Grouse: Icon of the West.”  This coffee table-sized book is filled with photographs by Noppadol Paothong. 

"In nearly every photo, he has managed to obtain the perfect marriage of subject, angle, light and background," said James Moss. "This is an outstanding work of art and a testament to this enduring icon of the west."

The Children’s Book winner is “Oregon & Washington 50 Hikes With Kids” by Wendy Gorton. Gorton’s book is designed to be taken along on hikes with children. The hikes were carefully evaluated by Gorton for their appropriateness for children, primarily in the 3-8 year range. Along with each hike, she has included a treasure hunt in which children try to find the flora and fauna pictured in the book.

Complete reviews of these and the other 2018 winners may be found at the National Outdoor Book Awards website at:  www.noba-web.org.

Here is a list of winners. 

• History/Biography. Winner. “To the Edges of the Earth: 1909, the Race for the Three Poles.”  By Edward J. Larson.  William Morrow, New York.  ISBN  9780062564474. 

• History/Biography. Winner. “Elevations: A Personal Exploration of the Arkansas River.”  By Max McCoy.  University Press of Kansas,  Lawrence, KS. ISBN  9780700626021.

• Outdoor Literature. Winner. “Pure Land: A True Story of Three Lives and the Search for Heaven on Earth.”  By Annette McGivney.  AUXmedia, Detroit.  ISBN9780998527888.

• Natural History Literature. Winner. “A Naturalist at Large: The Best Essays of Bernd Heinrich.”  By Bernd Heinrich.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston.  ISBN  9780544986831.

• Natural History Literature. Winner. “Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore.”  By Elizabeth Rush.  Milkweed Editions.  Minneapolis. ISBN 9781571313676.

• Design and Artistic Merit. Winner. “Sage Grouse: Icon of the West.”  Photographed by Noppadol Paothong.  Text by Kathy Love.  Design by Stephanie Thurber and Susan Ferber.  Laguna Wilderness Press, Laguna Beach, CA.  ISBN 9780984000739.

• Nature and the Environment. Winner. “The Snake and the Salamander:  Reptiles and Amphibians from Maine to Virginia.”  By Alvin R. Breisch.  Illustrated by Matt Patterson.  John Hopkins University Press.  Baltimore.  ISBN 9781421421575.

• Classic. Winner. “NOLS Cookery.”  Edited by Claudia Pearson.  Illustrated by Mike Clelland.  Stackpole Books, Lanham, MD.  ISBN 9780811719810.

• Children’s Category. Winner. “Oregon & Washington 50 Hikes With Kids.”  By Wendy Gorton.  Timber Press, Portland, OR.  ISBN 9781604698008.

• Children’s Category. Honorable Mention. “Belle’s Journey:  An Osprey Takes Flight.”  By Rob Bierregaard.  Illustrated by Kate Garchinsky.  Charlesbridge, Watertown, MA.  ISBN9781580897921.

• Children’s Category. Honorable Mention. “The Kid’s Guide to Birds of Minnesota.”  By Stan Tekiela.  Illustrations by Elleyna Ruud.  Design by Jonathan Norberg.  Adventure Publications, Cambridge, MN.  ISBN 9781591937869.

• Outdoor Adventure Guides. Winner. “Discovering the John Muir Trail: An Inspirational Guide to America’s Most Beautiful Hike.”  By Damon Corso.  Falcon Press, Guilford, CT  ISBN 9781493031245.

• Nature Guidebooks. Winner. “Butterflies of the Pacific Northwest.”  By Robert Michael Pyle and Caitlin C. LaBar.  Timber Press, Portland, OR.  ISBN 9781604696936.
• Instructional. Winner. “The Ultimate Guide to Whitewater Rafting and River Camping.”  By Molly Absolon.  Falcon Press, Guilford, CT  ISBN 9781493032334.


Home Towns of Authors

• History/Biography. Winner. To the Edges of the Earth.  By Edward J. Larson.  Malibu, CA

• History/Biography. Winner. Elevations,  By Max McCoy.  Emporia, KS

• Outdoor Literature. Winner. Pure Land.  By Annette McGivney.  Flagstaff, AZ

• Natural History Literature. Winner. A Naturalist at Large.  By Bernd Heinrich.  Weld, ME

• Natural History Literature. Winner.  Rising.  By Elizabeth Rush.  Providence, RI

• Design and Artistic Merit. Winner. Sage Grouse.  Photographed by Noppadol Paothong.  Columbia, MO

• Nature and the Environment. Winner. The Snake and the Salamander.  By Alvin R. Breisch.  Altamont, NY

• Classic. Winner. NOLS Cookery.  Edited by Claudia Pearson.  Lander, WY

• Children’s Category. Winner. Oregon & Washington 50 Hikes With Kids.  By Wendy Gorton.  Portland, OR

• Children’s Category. Honorable Mention. Belle’s Journey.  By Rob Bierregaard.  Wynnewood, PA

• Children’s Category. Honorable Mention. The Kid’s Guide to Birds of Minnesota.  By Stan Tekiela.  Victoria, MN

• Outdoor Adventure Guides. Winner. Discovering the John Muir Trail.  By Damon Corso.  North Hollywood, CA

• Nature Guidebooks. Winner. Butterflies of the Pacific Northwest.  By Robert Michael Pyle and Caitlin C. LaBar.  Gray’s River, WA

• Instructional. Winner. The Ultimate Guide to Whitewater Rafting and River Camping.  By Molly Absolon.  Victor, ID


Judges (quoted in release) - Home Towns

 • John Miles, El Prado, NM

 • Jim Moss - Littleton, CO


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