Each year the Center for Great Plains Studies presents a prize for the previous year's best book on the Great Plains. The Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize carries a cash award recently increased to $10,000. Publishers or authors may make nominations; each publisher may submit up to five titles. Only first edition, full-length, nonfiction books copyrighted in 2017 are evaluated for this year's award.
This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm
By Ted Genoways
The story of the American family farm is a high-stakes one. An entire way of life is under pressure from corporations, pipelines, water rights, climate change, and shifting markets. Farmers in the Great Plains must make decisions under this pressure with their thoughts on the land and their families.
The winner of the 2018 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize is author Ted Genoways for his chronicling of the Hammond family farm from harvest to harvest in “This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm.”
Genoways tells this family story while also educating the reader on the origin of hybrid corn, the evolution (and recycling) of tractors, and the coming of center pivot irrigation to the Great Plains, said David Loope, Professor and Schultz Chair in Stratigraphy Earth & Atmospheric Sciences and book prize committee chair.
“Farming is a risky business: weather and markets are always in flux; expensive equipment can (at any time) blow at any seam. Farmers make high-stakes decisions at a near-dizzying rate: what, where, and how to plant; when to harvest; when to sell; who to hire, and who to let go,” Loope said. “We all would benefit if tax-payers and voters (especially those far removed from York County, Nebraska) read this insightful, well-crafted book.”
Genoways is a contributing editor at “Mother Jones,” “The New Republic,” and “Pacific Standard.” His last book, “The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food,” was a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for Writing and Literature. His other honors include a National Press Club Award, an Association of Food Journalists Award, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, and fellowships from the NEA and Guggenheim Foundation. He lives outside Lincoln, Nebraska, with the photographer Mary Anne Andrei and their teenage son.
“I'm a fourth-generation Nebraskan (raising a fifth here in Lincoln), so I know firsthand that lots of people on the coasts don't think of Nebraska as a terribly literary place, if they think of it at all. As such, I only had a few guideposts to navigate by when I was an aspiring writer in high school and college--authors and poets like Willa Cather, Wright Morris, Ted Kooser, and Bill Kloefkorn, and institutions like Prairie Schooner, the Nebraska Book Arts Center, and the Center for Great Plains Studies,” Genoways said. “It feels truly amazing to be recognized in this way by one of the institutions that first taught me that Nebraska history and literature are national history and literature.”
The Stubbendieck book prize celebrates the most outstanding work about the Great Plains during the past year. Along with a $10,000 cash prize, winners are invited to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to present a lecture on the book's topic. First-edition, full-length, nonfiction books copyrighted in 2017 were eligible for the award. Nominations were made by publishers or authors.
- 2017 Winner
University of Montana Emeritus
- 2016 Winner
Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario
- 2015 Winner
University of Colorado at Boulder
- 2014 Winner
- 2013 Winner
William E. Farr
University of Montana
- 2011 Winner
James N. Leiker and Ramon Powers
Overland Park, Kansas
- 2010 Winner
William Y. Chalfant
- 2009 Winner
- 2008 Winner
University of California at Santa Barbara
- 2007 Winner
- 2006 Winner
Michael L. Tate
University of Nebraska at Omaha
- 2005 Winner
Louis S. Warren
University of California, Davis