Thomas D. Isern's Blog: Willow Creek: A Writing Journal

November 12, 2019

The Great Plains in American Agricultural History

In the works: a Wiley anthology, A Companion to American Agricultural History, edited by R. Douglas Hurt. I've signed on to write the chapter, up to 8000 words, on the Great Plains. My work will synthesize the standard knowledge on the subject but also introduce some non-standard interpretations drawing on my own previous work or work in progress. In general, I propose to treat the region as an agricultural center rather than a hinterland.

I mentioned yesterday that I also am writing a chapter on wheat for a handbook of world agriculture. These are both pretty heavy works, but they are situated at the intersection of my major interests in the history of agriculture and the Great Plains. Both, too, will feed directly into the course in the world history of agriculture that I will debut in January.
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Published on November 12, 2019 05:21

November 11, 2019

Pacing Dakota: The Audio Book

Previously noted in this column: "Don't look now, but quite soon, North Dakota State University Press will announce release of its first audio book, on the Audible platform: Pacing Dakota, voiced by the author. Watch this space, as well as the NDSU Press Facebook age, for word about this."

And so it happened. Released 6 November 2019 as an Audible audiobook. Unabridged, voiced by the author, produced by Amanda Watts. Available at Amazon - search and you will find both the hardback and the audiobook listed.

I also wrote earlier, "In a future post, too, I will write about the process of producing the Audible edition of Pacing Dakota." Later this week, I expect.
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Published on November 11, 2019 18:17

The History of the Human Race in 5000 Words

This afternoon I signed a contract with Oxford to write a book chapter on the agricultural history of wheat, in 5000 words. For giggles, then, I looked up the entry for "Wheat" in my 4-volume edition of the Cyclopedia of American Agriculture, 1907, edited by Liberty Hyde Bailey. It begins, "Wheat is a plant of vast economic importance, widely distributed over the civilized world and having a history coincident with that of the human race." Oh, well, that ought to be easy to cover in 5000 words.
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Published on November 11, 2019 17:19 Tags: agricultural-history, wheat

September 30, 2019

Pacing Dakota: Going Audio

Don't look now, but quite soon, North Dakota State University Press will announce release of its first audio book, on the Audible platform: Pacing Dakota, voiced by the author. Watch this space, as well as the NDSU Press Facebook age, for word about this. In a future post, too, I will write about the process of producing the Audible edition of Pacing Dakota.
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Published on September 30, 2019 06:35

May 13, 2019

Awards for Pacing Dakota

Just added the following to the Goodreads description of Pacing Dakota: "Pacing Dakota has won the 2019 gold medal (a.k.a. an IPPY) for midwestern nonfiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and is the 2019 award winner for western nonfiction from the Independent Press Book Awards." This may be a little confusing. Two different competitions with similar names: Independent Publisher Book Awards and Independent Press Book Awards. Pacing Dakota won its category in each. Thanks to NDSU Press for producing such a handsome book and putting it into position to win. Explaining these awards, I have been saying this is not the equivalent of going to the Final Four. The Big Five publishers are not in these competitions; they are for independent and university presses. So it's more like going deep in the NIT.
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Published on May 13, 2019 08:54

April 30, 2019

Pacing (cough, hack) Dakota

Friends and colleagues were kind to me at the Western Social Science Association session devoted to Pacing Dakota last week in San Diego. Unfortunately I return home with a California cough consequent to a nasty allergy attack. Pollen, smog, I don't know, but it knocked me down. Now today I'm prepping and trying to muster enough voice for one more extended recording session to put the Audible version of Pacing Dakota in the can. Resorting to drugs. This, I imagine, is how athletes get into trouble. . . .
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Published on April 30, 2019 05:11

April 18, 2019

Pacing Dakota at the WSSA


Pacing Dakota

The producer for the Audible version of Pacing Dakota, Amanda Watts, is exhibiting wonderful patience as I stumble through the multiple, extended recording sessions. It looks like we're about on the home stretch - one more session to go. That will have wait for a couple of weeks, however, because next week, ZZ and I will be traveling to San Diego for the annual conference of the Western Social Science Association. We have presentations to make and business to transact.

One of the sessions, however, will be devoted to, of all things, discussion of Pacing Dakota. Participants in the Rural and Agricultural Studies Section picked the work for their annual book critique and discussion. Officially, this is "The Fourteenth Annual Rural and Agricultural Studies Section Roundtable Book Discussion." I'm looking at the list of discussants, which has me worried, because I think they may know things. I'm not sure what my role is supposed to be. Possibly just buy drinks afterwards.
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Published on April 18, 2019 18:51

April 17, 2019

IPPY: Gold for Pacing Dakota


Pacing Dakota
Independent Publisher Book Awards, 2019
Midwest - Best Regional Nonfiction
GOLD: Pacing Dakota, by Thomas D. Isern (North Dakota State University Press)

The word is out from both the Independent Publisher Book Awards and NDSU Press that Pacing Dakota had been awarded the gold medal for midwestern nonfiction. Thanks for the IPPY! And thanks, NDSU Press, for putting the book forward to consideration.

Of greater note: NDSU Press swept three top awards, with authors Dawn Quigley and Madelyne Camrud also going gold. And oh yes, the silver in Pacing Dakota's category of midwestern nonfiction went to Dave Mills for his fine NDSU Press book, Operation Snowbound. I had the honor of directing Dave's PhD in History at NDSU.

Lots to celebrate here. The boss says we're going to New York City for the awards ceremony.
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Published on April 17, 2019 18:29

March 8, 2019

A Dark Winter

A sign that this winter has gone on a bit long.

Yesterday pre-dawn I opened a screen to compose a nice little essay about steamboats on the Missouri River. It morphed into a discourse on Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

Intervention required?
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Published on March 08, 2019 08:42

March 2, 2019

Home & Away

Pace quickening here on Willow Creek. Getting ready for the big show with North Dakota State University Press come Thursday night -

https://www.facebook.com/events/22810...

The annual press party is a gala event and, arguably, the premier literary event in our state. After that we clear the decks prepping for departure to New Zealand, another Otago research expedition. Flying out on Saturday. A week in the Hocken Collections, followed by a week upcountry for fieldwork in the Lindis. As good as it gets.
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Published on March 02, 2019 09:21

Willow Creek: A Writing Journal

Thomas D. Isern
From the home office on Willow Creek, in the Red River Valley of North Dakota, historian Tom Isern blogs about his (literary) life on the plains.
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