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NOBAWinners of the 2008

National Outdoor

Book Awards (NOBA)











Best Book Lists


















Reviews of the Winners of the 

National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA)


The most important book award program in the outdoor field is the National Outdoor Book Awards.  Primarily, awards are given to newly published books, but the program also recognizes past works of unusual importance through a special award called the Classic Award.  Program sponsors include the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, and Idaho State University. 


The current winners, listed by award category, are found below:



History-Biography Category


Grand Obsession



Winner.   Grand Obsession:  Harvey Butchart and the Exploration of the Grand Canyon.  By Elias Butler and Tom Myers.  Puma Press, Flagstaff, AZ.  ISBN 0970097344. 

Harvey Butchart was the legendary hiker and canyoneer who explored more of the Grand Canyon than any other person.  He was largely known through his sparse and somewhat cryptic hiking guidebooks.  But even more cryptic was Butchart himself.  Who was this man, and why did his interest in the canyon become an obsession that consumed his life?  You'll find out in this uncommonly well researched, well-structured and well-written biography.   


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com


Fallen Giants


Winner.  Fallen Giants:  A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes.  By Maurice Isserman and Stewart Weaver.  Yale University Press.  New Haven.  ISBN 9780300115017.

A history tome isn't the type of book that you'd think of reading from cover to cover, but A History of Himalayan Mountaineering is the exception.  Building upon an impressive body of research (notes and biographical entries alone occupy over 100 pages), authors Maurice Isserman and Stewart Weaver effortlessly move the reader from one era to another -- as easily as an accomplished climber might move from one rock pitch to another.  This is an outstanding reference work, and if you enjoy mountaineering literature, it's clearly one for your book shelves.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com



Outdoor Literature Category



Forget Me Not WinnerForget Me Not: A Memoir.  By Jennifer Lowe-Anker.  The Mountaineers Books, Seattle.  ISBN 1594850828.


In this warm and touching memoir, Jennifer Lowe-Anker tells of her life with Alex Lowe, one of America's finest mountaineers.  When Alex dies suddenly on an expedition in the Himalayas, she is left to care for herself and three young sons.  With time, she finds solace, companionship, and eventually love with Alex's good friend and fellow mountaineer Conrad Anker.  Candid and remarkably well told, it's a story of adventure, passion, struggle, and hope.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com




RowboatHonorable Mention.  Rowboat in a Hurricane: My Amazing Journey Across a Changing Ocean.  By Julie Angus.  Greystone Books, Vancouver.  ISBN 9781553653370


In this riveting, true story, author Julie Angus, and her fiancée set out from Portugal in a 23-foot boat made from quarter inch plywood.  Their goal:  to row across the dangerous and capricious Atlantic ocean from Europe to Central America, a mere 6,000 miles.  They row 16 hours a day, each rowing for 2-hour shifts.  For 145 days they keep up this grueling routine.  But there's more than interminable rowing.  It's the same year as Hurricane Katrina and the Atlantic is seething with tropical storms.  Their path takes them directly into the storms' midst.  


Amazon.com: More Information or Purchase




Natural History Literature Category



American Chestnut

Winner.   The American Chestnut:  The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree.  By Susan Freinkel.  University of California Press, Berkeley.  ISBN 9780520247307


At one time, the American chestnut tree stretched in great numbers from Georgia to Maine.  In the Appalachian Mountains, it was so prolific that it made up fully 25 percent of all tree species.  Then in the early 1900s, the chestnut blight fungus, accidentally introduced to North America on imported Asiatic chestnuts, quickly spread.  In forty years time, an estimated four billion chestnuts trees were dead.  Only a handful of isolated trees remained in California and the Pacific Northwest.  This is Susan Freinkel's absorbing story of a cultural American icon and the century-long struggle by those who refused to let the tree slip into oblivion.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com



Outdoor Classic Category


Through the Grand CanyonWinner.   Through the Grand Canyon from Wyoming to Mexico.  By Ellsworth L. Kolb.  Grand Canyon Association, Grand Canyon, AZ.  (Originally published by MacMillan in 1914). ISBN  0938216961


During the fall and winter of 1911-12, Ellsworth and Emery Kolb rowed two wooden, flat-bottomed boats on a 1,600 mile journey down the Green and Colorado Rivers.  They re-traced John Wesley Powell's famous journey from Green River, Utah through the Grand Canyon, but they went even farther, eventually arriving at the Gulf of California.  Long out of print, this vivid, historical account is one of the great adventure tales of the American West.  Thanks to the Grand Canyon Association, Through the Grand Canyon is now back in print and available to a new generation of readers.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com

White ParadiseWinner.   The Pacific Crest Trail (Series).  In three volumes: Southern California, Northern California and Oregon &Washington.  Authors include Thomas Winnett, Ben Schifrin, Jeffrey Schaffer, Ruby Johnson Jenkins, and Andy Selters.  Wilderness Press, Berkeley.  ISBN's: 9780899973166, 9780899973173, 9780899973753.


The 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail is one of the great hiking trails of the world, passing along the spine of the Sierras of California and the snow-capped Cascades of Oregon and Washington.  A great trail deserves a great guidebook, and the three volumes making up the Pacific Crest Trail series rise to the challenge.  Written by accomplished hikers and regularly updated, accompanied with useable maps, and filled with helpful information on the trails, the Pacific Crest Trail guides have been and remain the best of the best.


Southern California: Amazon.com


Northern California: Amazon.com


Oregon & Washington: Amazon.com



Design /Artistic Merit Category




Winner. Surfboards by Guy Motil.  Falcon Guides, Guilford, CT.  ISBN 9780762746217.


This consummately designed and photographed book is about those sleek and simple contrivances that allow surfers to harness the natural power of an ocean wave.  Much of Guy Motil's life has been entwined with the sport, and the text clearly bears out his intimate understanding of boards and their myriad permutations.  Whether you're a surfing dabbler or a serious devotee, it won't disappoint.  One look at this sumptuous book and you'll agree.  It's a must-have.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com


Bruce Aiken

Winner. Bruce Aiken's Grand Canyon:  An Intimate Affair.  Paintings by Bruce Aiken.  Text by Susan Hallsten McGarry.  Grand Canyon Association, Grand Canyon, AZ.  ISBN 9780938216933


For thirty years Bruce Aiken lived in a remote side canyon of the Grand Canyon.  There he tended to the National Park's water supply.  And there he perfected his art.  This long awaited book showcases some of Aiken’s most stunning pieces portraying the canyon in his own unique style of vivid colors and intimate details.  The accompanying text written by Susan Hallsten McGarry very nicely complements Aiken's work by providing perspective on his art and biographical information on his life.  


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com

Ed Cooper

Honorable Mention.  Soul of the Heights: 50 Years Going to the Mountains.  Photographs and text by Ed Cooper.  Falcon Guides, Guilford, CT.  ISBN 9780762745272


Ed Cooper was a pioneer climber in 1950s and 60s, making many important first ascents in Canada, the North Cascades and Yosemite.  In addition to his climbing experience, he is also an outstanding photographer, having published his work in a wide variety of magazines and books.  In this moving and graphically striking book, Ed Cooper uses story and photographs to take the reader on a personal 50-year journey of his love affair with mountains. 


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com



Children's Category



The PoleWinner: The Pole.  By Eric Walters.  Puffin Canada/Penguin Group, Toronto.  ISBN 9780143167914.


The Pole is a splendid work of historical fiction oriented to pre and early teens.  It is built around the epic adventure of Robert Peary's 1909 attempt to the reach the North Pole.  Canadian children's author Eric Walters tells the story of a fourteen-year-old boy, Danny, who has obtained a job on Peary's ship as a cook's helper.  Because of his age, Danny expects to remain on the ship while the expedition to the North Pole is underway, but once they reach Greenland, he quickly establishes his worth as a dog musher.  Peary decides to take him along on the journey north, and Danny suddenly finds himself on an adventure of a lifetime.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com



Nature and the Environment



Last Polar Bear

Winner.  The Last Polar Bear:  Facing the Truth of a Warming World.  Photographs by Steven Kazlowski.  Braided River Books, an imprint of The Mountaineers Books, Seattle.  ISBN 9781594850592.


There is no better indicator of the consequences of global warming than the plight of the polar bear -- and there's no one better to capture the great white bear of the Arctic than photographer Steven Kazlowski.  Kazlowski's stunning photographs, obtained in the most difficult of conditions, place the bear in context with a rapidly changing environment.  But it's not just illustrative material that make this a winning book, Kazlowski's photographs are given meaning and understanding through series of insightful essays by noted authors, conservationists and native Alaskans.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com

Great Lakes

Winner.  The Great Lakes:  The Natural History of a Changing Region.  By Wayne Grady.  Greystone Books, Vancouver.  ISBN 9781553651970.


This is a compelling and timely exploration of a vitally important ecosystem in the heart of the North American continent.  The five lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior) constitute the largest readily available freshwater in the world, about 20 percent of the planet's total.  Nicely designed with color photographs, diagrams and maps, and written by one of Canada's best-known science writers, The Great Lakes it is the perfect vehicle to understand this remarkable area.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com


Nature Guidebook Category



Birds of Peru

Winner.   Birds of Peru.  By Tomas S. Schulenberg, Douglas F. Stotz, Daniel F. Lane, John P. O'Neill, and Theodore A. Parker III.  Princeton University Press, Princeton.  ISBN 9780691049151.


A famous American field ornithologist once remarked that a bird watching trip to Peru was akin to a child's visit to an enormous toy store -- and with good reason.  Peru is home to nearly one-fifth of the world's total number of bird species.  There's no better way to explore the wonders of Peru's ornithological toy store than with this colorful, well-organized and comprehensive guidebook.  In all, it covers an amazing 1,792 species.  It is, quite simply, an impressive work of monumental ornithological significance


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com



Instructional  Category

Road Bike Repair

Winner.  Road Bike Maintenance.  By Guy Andrews.  Falcon Guides, Guilford, CT.  ISBN 9780762747467.


One word describes this full-color book on how to repair and maintain your road bike: wow!  Everything you wanted to know about keeping your bike in tip-top shape is here, all pleasingly presented in step-by-step, crisp photographs and clear and understandable text.  Whether you're an experienced hand with headset wrench or have never changed a tire, this is the book to have.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com



Ultimate WhitewaterHonorable Mention.  Whitewater Kayaking: The Ultimate Guide.  By Ken Whiting and Kevin Varette.  Heliconia Press.  Beachburg, Ontario.  ISBN 9781896980300.

This splendidly done, full-color book lives up to its title.  It is the ultimate guide to whitewater paddling.  Authored by two world renowned kayakers, its coverage is extensive, ranging from basic concepts to cutting edge paddling techniques.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com




Outdoor Adventure Guidebook Category



Florida KeysWinner. Florida Keys Paddling Atlas.  By Bill and Mary Burnham.  Falcon Guides, Guilford, CT.  ISBN 9780762738571.


This is an exceptionally well-done sea kayaking guide to the tropical water paradise of the Florida Keys.  Graphically appealing and functional, it includes fully annotated navigational charts and information on key launch sites, helpful route-finding hints, paddle-friendly marinas and hidden-away waterways. 


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com



BajaHonorable Mention.  The Guide to Baja Sea Kayaking. By Dave Eckardt.  Paddle Publishing, Eagle, CO.  ISBN 97809645839914


Ah Baja!  The sea kayaker's paradise.  When the day comes and when you're ready to head out to paradise, this is the guidebook to take.  It covers a total of 1,500 miles of Baja shoreline and describes the circumnavigation of 30 islands.  All of the trips are neatly overlaid on crisp Landsat satellite photos.


Available from the publisher:  Paddle Publishing




End of Listing


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