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Hildebrand's 'Northern Front' Receives Minnesota Book Award

RELEASED: May 8, 2006

John Hildebrand
John Hildebrand

EAU CLAIRE — John Hildebrand, professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, was awarded the Minnesota Humanities Commission's Minnesota Book Award for "A Northern Front: New and Selected Essays," published by Borealis Books, 2005.

The Minnesota Book Awards recognize, honor and celebrate the best in Minnesota literature. The award finalists represent what some call "the best reading list in Minnesota."

Hildebrand's book includes 17 essays that "newly illuminate the tensions inherent in protecting the wild and the obstacles facing those who work to do so," states the Commission's Web site.

"The essays address, from different vantage points, the need to preserve our natural places. The writing is rich in metaphor, expansive in its treatment of universal human themes, and full of literary references," Commission judges wrote. "The result is a work that involves the reader and offers an everyman's view of environmental issues, rather than an elitist or academic perspective."

Hildebrand said he was surprised to be nominated in the category of Science and Nature Writing.

"Mostly what I write about in the book is human nature, usually a conflict over a piece of land: the Arctic national Wildlife Refuge, a Midwestern farm, hunting grounds," Hildebrand said, referring to his other books. "The essays cover a lot of territory, from the Arctic to the west of Ireland, and the tone isn't always somber. Some of the pieces are actually funny."

Hildebrand is the author of two other award-winning books, "Reading the River: A Voyage Down the Yukon," and "Mapping the Farm: the Chronicle of a Family." His writing has appeared in Harper's, Audubon, Outside, Sports Illustrated, Harrowsmith Country Life and Wisconsin Trails. His work is in several anthologies and has been translated into German and Italian.

Hildebrand joined the English department at UW-Eau Claire in 1977. He specializes in nonfiction writing and literature, the short story and American literature.

He received the Maxwell Schoenfeld Distinguished Professorship and the Excellence in Scholarship Award from UW-Eau Claire. He also has been awarded a Bush Artist Fellowship, a Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship, the BANTA Award from the Wisconsin Literary Association and a Friends of American Writers Literary Award.

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JW/JB

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