Contact: Nanette Perez
Project Coordinator
For Immediate Release
March 5, 2004

Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award winner announced

CHICAGO -- Wendell Berry and David James Duncan, coauthors of "Citizens Dissent: Security, Morality and Leadership in an Age of Terror" (Orion Society, 2003), are the 2004 recipients of the Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award. The award is presented for the best published work in the area of intellectual freedom and consists of a citation and $500.

"The committee is very pleased to present Wendell Berry and David James Duncan with this award for 'Citizens Dissent,'" said Oboler Award Committee chair Martin Garnar. "These essays on the larger issues of civil liberties and political dissent in a post 9/11 world are powerful reminders of the underlying principles of intellectual freedom."

Presented by the American Library Association (ALA) Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT), the award honors Eli M. Oboler, an extensively published Idaho University librarian who was a champion for intellectual freedom that demanded the dismantling of all barriers to freedom of expression.

"Members of the committee were impressed with the authors' quality of writing, eloquence of arguments, and dedication to beliefs," said Garnar.  "Berry's rigorous and intellectual refutation of the National Security Strategy nicely balances Duncan's emotional, almost grief-stricken lament of the country's current policy towards Iraq.  These profound topics provide a context for the daily challenges to intellectual freedom in both our libraries and our larger society."

Berry, farmer, essayist, poet and novelist, is the author of more than thirty books including, "In the Presence of Fear: Three essays for a Changed World," and a regular contributor to Orion magazine.  When he learned of the award, he said, "The little book 'Citizens Dissent' puts its authors well out on a limb.  That is where intellectual freedom is apt to put its practitioners from time to time, if it is in fact a working freedom.  Even so, writers who go out on a limb should not expect to be honored.  I am telling the truth, then, when I say I am surprised by the Eli M. Oboler Award.  But I am also relieved and encouraged.  Thank you."

Duncan, the author of the novels "The River Why" and "The Brothers K" whose recent book, "My Story as Told by Water," won the Western States Book Award and was nominated for the 2001 National Book Award, said, "I am more grateful than I can say that the American Library Association, in a dark time, stands by those of us who love the richness of human and literary experience and call the psychic assault weapons into question."
The Eli M. Oboler Award will be presented on Saturday, June 26, at 1:30 p.m., during the IFRT program at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Fla.

For more information regarding the Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award and past recipients please visit

"Citizens Dissent: Security, Morality, and Leadership in an Age of Terror," ISBN 0-913098-62-0, Paperback, 60 pages, $8.00 US, is available through and at independent booksellers nationwide.