A Hawke's Bay-published book on the life of late Dannevirke war hero and bomber pilot Phil Lamason as a major winner at the world's leading small-publishers' awards in the US next month.

The book, I Would Not Step Back..., was published by the Phil Lamason Trust and written by Porangahau writer and former Hawke's Bay Herald-Tribune and Hawke's Bay Today journalist Hilary Pedersen, based much on research and interviews by Glenys Scott, a longtime friend of the veteran who died in 2012, aged 95.

Launched in October 2017, with a hard-covered print-run of 1400, it was entered in three categories in Independent Book Awards to be presented in Washington DC on June 23, and has been named winner of the Military category. It was also one of six finalists in the autobiography/biography category.

Trust chairman Mike Harold told Hawke's Bay Today the book is now headed for paperback version release by UK publisher Mention the War, which specialises in publishing and selling books on the RAF Bomber Command in World War II.


Pending the awards, at which the trust hopes to be represented, he awaits comments from the judges which he expects will also reflect on the design work of Wellington photographer Sal Chriscillo.

The awards have been running about 10 years, and Harold said: "We are thrilled to hear we have won the award for the Military category and to have been a finalist in perhaps the biggest category."

Pedersen has been involved in numerous publications of a historical nature, now with a BA in history and mostly collaborative efforts, ranging from small organisation centennial efforts, through a series of works chronicling the social history of the Porangahau, to the three years of the Lamason project.

Now she's working on a publication linking her own essays, with some links to her own life growing-up on a farm and her Scandinavian and Vikings heritage.

She's also wondering what to do with the scrapbooks from her newspaper days in Central Hawke's Bay, including meetings of the local councils. "I guess it too is part of the local history," she said.