Levi S. Peterson has been awarded the annual Evans Biography Award for his book, "Juanita Brooks: A Mormon Woman Historian."

The award of $10,000 goes to the author of the best biography on "Mormon Country." It is the largest award of its kind and is second in amount only to the Pulitzer Prize.The award is administered by the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies at Utah State University.

Juanita Brooks was a lifelong resident of southern Utah. According to Howard Lamar, a member of the national selection committee and former chairman of the history department and director of history graduate students at Yale, Brooks is important as an articulate regionalist and as a leader in preserving the physical remains of Utah's past.

"Juanita Brooks both symbolized and analyzed Mormon society and culture by being a devout Mormon wife and church member while writing scholarly books that are recognized and respected by the historical profession at large," Lamar said.

Peterson is a professor of English at Weber State College. He is author of the novel "The Backslider;" an anthology, "Greening Wheat: Fifteen Mormon Short Stories;" and a short story collection, "The Canyons of Grace."

This year's finalists included Peterson's book; "Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work," by Curt Meine; and "Jesse Benton Fremont: A Woman and Her Times," by Pamela Herr.

Previous winners of the Evans Award have included Leonard Arrington's "Brigham Young: American Moses;" Richard Bushman's "Joseph and the Beginnings of Mormonism;" "Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith," by Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery; Paul Hutton's "Phil Sheridan;" and James Allen's "Trials of Discipleship: The Story of William Clayton, A Mormon."