Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, Its Chaotic Founding, Its Apocalyptic Weather, Its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-Class Metropolis

Sam Anderson. Crown, $28 (432p) ISBN 978-0-8041-3731-7
Anderson, a New York Times Magazine staff writer, delivers a rollicking, kaleidoscopic chronicle of America’s 27th-largest city. Oklahoma City was a “pure social experiment,” born in an event called the Land Run of 1889. In that land rush, “unassigned lands” in the Indian Territory (seized from tribes that had supported the Confederacy) were opened up for settlement, and settlers rushed in to each claim 160 free acres by hammering in their stakes and fighting off competitors in a free-for-all that Anderson jokes could have more accurately been named “Reckoning of the DoomSettlers: Clusterfuck on the Prairie.” His vivid narrative of Oklahoma City’s tumultuous history draws parallels between the dramatic ups and downs of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, including the controversial trade of future superstar James Harden and the achievements of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, and the city’s larger history of booms and busts. In the latter sections, he touches on influential personalities, among them Roscoe Dunjee, who founded Oklahoma City’s first black newspaper and advanced housing integration; urban planner Sam Draper, who executed a master plan for the frontier town; legendary Great Plains weatherman Gary England; civil rights activist Clara Luper, who integrated Oklahoma City’s restaurants and lunch counters with her sit-ins in the 1950s and ’60s; and the Flaming Lips’ flamboyant front man, Wayne Coyne. Anderson’s lively and empathetic saga captures the outsize ambitions, provincial realities, and vibrant history of a quintessentially American city. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2018
Release date: 08/21/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-0-8041-3732-4
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-8041-3733-1
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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