'Great Plains: America's Lingering Wild' wins book prize


"Great Plains: America's Lingering Wild" is the winner of the 2010 Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize from the Center for Great Plains Studies at UNL.

Center director James Stubbendieck made the announcement May 5 at the center's annual meeting.

Three broad geographic regions in "Great Plains" are covered in detail, evoked in the unforgettable images taken by Michael Forsberg. Between the fall of 2005 and the winter of 2008, Forsberg traveled nearly 100,000 miles across 12 states and three provinces, from southern Canada to northern Mexico, to complete the photographic fieldwork for this project, underwritten by The Nature Conservancy. Complementing

Forsberg's images and firsthand accounts are essays by Great Plains scholar David Wishart, acclaimed writer Dan O'Brien, and a foreword by Pulitzer Prize winner Ted Kooser, the 13th poet laureate of the United States.

Forsberg said his concept for the book was developed more than four years ago. "I think sometimes there is an assumption in a picture-driven book that the words are secondary to the photos," he said. "I wanted the words to matter and have equal weight. I felt we needed a collection of voices and perspectives that spoke from years of experience and study and life on the Plains."

Judges for the book prize were UNL faculty members Mark Burbach, Margaret Jacobs and Andrew Jewell.

Forsberg will receive a cash prize of $5,000 and will present a lecture on the topic of the book this fall at UNL. "Great Plains" was published by Chicago University Press. The book also has won the PROSE Award for Biological and Life Sciences from the American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence.

Only first edition, full-length, nonfiction books published in 2009 were evaluated for the award. The other finalists were "Dakota Philosopher: Charles Eastman and American Indian Thought" by David Martinez (Minnesota Historical Society Press); "Sex, Murder, and the Unwritten Law: Courting Judicial Mayhem, Texas Style" by Bill Neal (Texas Tech University Press); and "North for the Harvest: Mexican Workers, Growers, and the Sugar Beet Industry" by Jim Norris (Minnesota Historical Society Press).

- By Linda Ratcliffe, Center of Great Plains Studies