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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

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Award-winning journalist Sam Anderson’s long-awaited debut is a brilliant, kaleidoscopic narrative of Oklahoma City--a great American story of civics, basketball, and destiny. Oklahoma City was born from chaos. It was founded in a bizarre but momentous "Land Run" in 1889, when thousands of people lined up along the borders of Oklahoma Territory and rushed in at noon to stak Award-winning journalist Sam Anderson’s long-awaited debut is a brilliant, kaleidoscopic narrative of Oklahoma City--a great American story of civics, basketball, and destiny. Oklahoma City was born from chaos. It was founded in a bizarre but momentous "Land Run" in 1889, when thousands of people lined up along the borders of Oklahoma Territory and rushed in at noon to stake their claims. Since then, it has been a city torn between the wild energy that drives its outsized ambitions, and the forces of order that seek sustainable progress. Nowhere was this dynamic better realized than in the drama of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team's 2012-13 season, when the Thunder's brilliant general manager, Sam Presti, ignited a firestorm by trading future superstar James Harden just days before the first game. Presti's all-in gamble on "the Process"—the patient, methodical management style that dictated the trade as the team’s best hope for long-term greatness—kicked off a pivotal year in the city's history, one that would include pitched battles over urban planning, a series of cataclysmic tornadoes, and the frenzied hope that an NBA championship might finally deliver the glory of which the city had always dreamed. Boom Town announces the arrival of an exciting literary voice. Sam Anderson, former book critic for New York magazine and now a staff writer at the New York Times magazine, unfolds an idiosyncratic mix of American history, sports reporting, urban studies, gonzo memoir, and much more to tell the strange but compelling story of an American city whose unique mix of geography and history make it a fascinating microcosm of the democratic experiment. Filled with characters ranging from NBA superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook; to Flaming Lips oddball frontman Wayne Coyne; to legendary Great Plains meteorologist Gary England; to Stanley Draper, Oklahoma City's would-be Robert Moses; to civil rights activist Clara Luper; to the citizens and public servants who survived the notorious 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building, Boom Town offers a remarkable look at the urban tapestry woven from control and chaos, sports and civics.


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Award-winning journalist Sam Anderson’s long-awaited debut is a brilliant, kaleidoscopic narrative of Oklahoma City--a great American story of civics, basketball, and destiny. Oklahoma City was born from chaos. It was founded in a bizarre but momentous "Land Run" in 1889, when thousands of people lined up along the borders of Oklahoma Territory and rushed in at noon to stak Award-winning journalist Sam Anderson’s long-awaited debut is a brilliant, kaleidoscopic narrative of Oklahoma City--a great American story of civics, basketball, and destiny. Oklahoma City was born from chaos. It was founded in a bizarre but momentous "Land Run" in 1889, when thousands of people lined up along the borders of Oklahoma Territory and rushed in at noon to stake their claims. Since then, it has been a city torn between the wild energy that drives its outsized ambitions, and the forces of order that seek sustainable progress. Nowhere was this dynamic better realized than in the drama of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team's 2012-13 season, when the Thunder's brilliant general manager, Sam Presti, ignited a firestorm by trading future superstar James Harden just days before the first game. Presti's all-in gamble on "the Process"—the patient, methodical management style that dictated the trade as the team’s best hope for long-term greatness—kicked off a pivotal year in the city's history, one that would include pitched battles over urban planning, a series of cataclysmic tornadoes, and the frenzied hope that an NBA championship might finally deliver the glory of which the city had always dreamed. Boom Town announces the arrival of an exciting literary voice. Sam Anderson, former book critic for New York magazine and now a staff writer at the New York Times magazine, unfolds an idiosyncratic mix of American history, sports reporting, urban studies, gonzo memoir, and much more to tell the strange but compelling story of an American city whose unique mix of geography and history make it a fascinating microcosm of the democratic experiment. Filled with characters ranging from NBA superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook; to Flaming Lips oddball frontman Wayne Coyne; to legendary Great Plains meteorologist Gary England; to Stanley Draper, Oklahoma City's would-be Robert Moses; to civil rights activist Clara Luper; to the citizens and public servants who survived the notorious 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building, Boom Town offers a remarkable look at the urban tapestry woven from control and chaos, sports and civics.

30 review for 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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rose (Traveling Sister)

    4.5* RTC - Suggested for sons and daughters of the mid-south, lovers of basketball, and fans of weird history. (I'm all of the above, so this was right up my alley!)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paquita Maria Sanchez

    If Sam Anderson can emotionally invest born and raised Okie-me in the politics and interpersonal relationships of the Thunder, a basketball team I've never watched play a single game (not even on a television screen), then I promise you that he can effortlessly breathe life into my hometown's unique and bizarre history for even the most removed reader. He's just that good...and OKC is just that weird. I would recommend this to anyone, without qualifiers.

  3. 4 out of 5

    L.A. Starks

    Anderson came to OKC from New York to report on the Thunder, Oklahoma City's basketball team, but he writes a fine history of Oklahoma City itself, interspersed with the Thunder's on-court drama. Anderson starts with the land run, writes about the growth by annexation, desegregation, the unfortunate clearing of downtown--an idea generated by I.M. Pei and adopted by the city fathers--the Murrah bombing, and tornadoes. He writes some about oil and gas but is less specific than he could be that poo Anderson came to OKC from New York to report on the Thunder, Oklahoma City's basketball team, but he writes a fine history of Oklahoma City itself, interspersed with the Thunder's on-court drama. Anderson starts with the land run, writes about the growth by annexation, desegregation, the unfortunate clearing of downtown--an idea generated by I.M. Pei and adopted by the city fathers--the Murrah bombing, and tornadoes. He writes some about oil and gas but is less specific than he could be that poorer times (and less development) stemmed from oil and gas downturns. Much to his credit, he gets the sources of Oklahoma's earthquakes right--not fracking but the deep wastewater disposal wells, which are now used much less than they were originally, with the result that earthquakes have decreased.. Anderson reports rather than comments, but it is clear I.M. Pei's brutalist downtown clearing of Oklahoma City was a bad idea--the hoped-for replacement buildings didn't come along. (I.M. Pei also did Dallas no favors with his design of its bunker-like city hall.) But--it's been pointed out that old buildings do not make particularly nice current places to live or stay--they require a lot of rehabbing to be livable. The Murrah bombing was an enormous tragedy. Anderson treats it with the reporting and respect it deserves. This book is recommended to all Oklahomans and anyone who likes the Thunder or who's ever been curious about Oklahoma City.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ron S

    Who needs a synopsis with a sub-title like that? A fun, fast-paced read for people that enjoy unusual histories with a generous helping of weird.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stella

    There a few versions of Oklahoma City. There's the "bombing" OKC. There's the "flyover state" OKC. Then there's the Thunder version. Sam Anderson has taken Oklahoma City, the OKC Thunder and, really, the state of Oklahoma and combined it into a fantastic story. Shooing back and forth through time, Anderson captures what makes Oklahoma and the Thunder so great. This is the story of a great state, a state that popped up over night, a state that had a college before it was officially recognized as There a few versions of Oklahoma City. There's the "bombing" OKC. There's the "flyover state" OKC. Then there's the Thunder version. Sam Anderson has taken Oklahoma City, the OKC Thunder and, really, the state of Oklahoma and combined it into a fantastic story. Shooing back and forth through time, Anderson captures what makes Oklahoma and the Thunder so great. This is the story of a great state, a state that popped up over night, a state that had a college before it was officially recognized as a state. There's the Land Run, tornados, Wayne Coyne, Gary England. There's also Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. I always find it hard to describe Oklahoma. Yes, it in the middle of the country and yes, it's full of people with very conservative values. But it's also the home of Clara Luper and Ralph Ellison, Wanda Jackson and Garth Brooks. The passion that Oklahomans have for college football, combined and made the OKC Thunder one of the most beloved teams in professional sports. Oklahomas love what is theirs. We love each other and we love Oklahoma. This is a basketball book. This is a history book. This is Oklahoma.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Uriel Perez

    This is a stunningly good piece of civic history here. Sam Anderson does the impossible and makes the arid, droll landscape of Oklahoma City explode with intrigue. ‘Boom Town’ is a wonderful mix of basketball reportage, frontier history and expose of a city in flyover country that really deserves a second look.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Trike

    Oklahoma City has a crazy history. Crazier than most cities. From its birth during the Oklahoma Land Run through its lawless Wild West days continuing through booms and busts and failed urban renewal to the Murrah building bombing and the area’s insane tornado weather, it’s been one crazy rollercoaster ride. If this were the backstory of a sci-fi book no one would buy into it because it’s so completely absurd. For instance, the bit about the “purloined basketball team” refers to the OKC Thunder, Oklahoma City has a crazy history. Crazier than most cities. From its birth during the Oklahoma Land Run through its lawless Wild West days continuing through booms and busts and failed urban renewal to the Murrah building bombing and the area’s insane tornado weather, it’s been one crazy rollercoaster ride. If this were the backstory of a sci-fi book no one would buy into it because it’s so completely absurd. For instance, the bit about the “purloined basketball team” refers to the OKC Thunder, who used to be the Seattle SuperSonics. OKC businessmen straight-up stole the team legally by buying them and then making demands of Seattle they knew the citizens of Washington wouldn’t agree to, like building a new half-billion-dollar stadium. Which is fitting, since back in the 1960s Seattle-based Boeing was developing a supersonic airplane and they needed a city to test the effects of sonic booms on the population underneath the flight path, so the Oklahoma City town council (in cahoots with local business leaders) volunteered. To be part of the future! The US government then started overflying OKC with their latest jets, causing sonic booms. Many, many booms. Which exploded windows, caused plaster ceilings to collapse, drove animals literally insane and chickens to their deaths from the stress. After two weeks the citizens begged them to stop. The guys in charge listened to their petitions and looked at all the property damage being done, not to mention the terrible side effects to everyone’s health from the booms themselves but also from the stress, and they said, “No.” The flights were increased and went on for over six months. Boeing, the US government and OKC’s prominent businessmen essentially tortured everyone for months on end, only to have the plan for supersonic jet travel over the United States scrapped. ...and then they did it some more. 😂 I can’t even imagine the lawsuits that would happen today if they tried something like that. People wonder why we are such a litigious country. Probably because of little things like people being injured by their ceilings caving in on them due to a fighter jet roaring by 5 miles overhead. This isn’t even the craziest thing that happened in the city’s history. This took me a long time to read because I kept stopping to look stuff up. All the descriptions of the Land Run sounded exactly like the scene from the Ron Howard movie Far and Away (the one where Tom Cruise has a terrible Irish accent). So I watched that scene again: https://youtu.be/yxaJY8UZxn4 When he talks about the two shady organizations holding their own elections and staking out the city on day two of its founding, I went over Google Maps to see what those streets look like today, and you *can* still see where they had to inexpertly match up the two layouts. Then I got sucked into Street View, looking at all the places he references. As he talks about the OKC Thunder playing, especially when it featured the heyday of Durant, Westbrook and Harden, I watched highlight films: https://youtu.be/sCUwuSwmcck When he talked about the opening of the 1913-2013 Century Chest time capsule, I watched numerous videos of it: https://youtu.be/NydcQGo8wF0 Then I went to the OKC historical society page to look at the stuff: https://www.okhistory.org/centurychest/ I read all of the “prophecies” that the city leaders of 1913 wrote, which included this rather amazing prognostication by a prominent banker: This letter will not interrupt the opening of your morning mail for the very good reason that you will have no morning mail, or not much. Your distant correspondence will be conducted instantaneously by electrical means all through business hours and only letters with document enclosures will come to you by the slower-moving mails. He gets other things wrong, but he’s talking about email and e-commerce. For a guy living in 1913 when they don’t even have radio yet, that’s incredible. The story of civil rights activist Clara Luper sent me on a quest to learn more about this amazing woman, who staged patient, good-humored sit-ins for six years: https://youtu.be/bXMOJjDrIuQ When we get into the tornadoes of Oklahoma, especially the devastating ones which hit Moore in both 1999 and 2013, as well as the El Reno tornado, I went down the rabbit hole of watching hours of storm footage on YouTube: https://youtu.be/nWB7Edw-bCA ...and so on. I visited OKC in 1984 and I can not recall a single thing about that town. Now I know it’s because of their disastrous attempt at urban renewal, which led to them essentially bulldozing half the city, including most of their landmark buildings. The amount of federal tax dollars which have gone into propping up OKC for the past 130 years is sickening. Anderson doesn’t make that a feature of the book, casually mentioning it here and there, but it’s safe to say OKC would have ceased to exist without liberal blue states sending hundreds of millions of dollars to this deeply conservative area over the decades. Oklahoma stole the land from the Native Americans, and it’s still stealing from the rest of America to this day. Seriously, this is one crazy, dysfunctional city.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lance

    I had mixed feelings about this book. At least the parts that piqued my interest, the passages about the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, were interesting and I especially enjoyed reading about the angst felt when one of the young stars of the team, James Harden, was going to leave and sign with another team. The writing about Garden's trademark heard was very entertaining. But the rest of the book wasn't doing it for me. I had trouble fitting together the entire history of the city and at I had mixed feelings about this book. At least the parts that piqued my interest, the passages about the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, were interesting and I especially enjoyed reading about the angst felt when one of the young stars of the team, James Harden, was going to leave and sign with another team. The writing about Garden's trademark heard was very entertaining. But the rest of the book wasn't doing it for me. I had trouble fitting together the entire history of the city and at times I couldn't figure out what it had to do with the basketball team. The book felt disjointed at times. Overall I will give it a passing grade for the basketball but that is all I liked about it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    It's a surreal experience to read the deepest dive any writer (and big-time publisher) will ever undertake about your hometown, which, as "Boom Town's" mostly East Coast reviewers have noted, is one of those places that almost nobody thinks about. I was born and raised in Oklahoma City and left to go to college when I was 18 (in 1986), returning less and less as the years passed and family died (or moved). Now it's mostly a trip back for a high school reunion every five or 10 years. Enough about It's a surreal experience to read the deepest dive any writer (and big-time publisher) will ever undertake about your hometown, which, as "Boom Town's" mostly East Coast reviewers have noted, is one of those places that almost nobody thinks about. I was born and raised in Oklahoma City and left to go to college when I was 18 (in 1986), returning less and less as the years passed and family died (or moved). Now it's mostly a trip back for a high school reunion every five or 10 years. Enough about OKC remains the same, so that these visits can become a satisfying nostalgia trip. It's a real and always sentimental journey for me, but a lot has changed, to say the very least. This is a book about a truly American place always on the verge of something big, ever since 1889, and never quite getting there. Sam Anderson has done a terrific job of mixing historical research and literary wonder, understanding Oklahoma City for what it is and what it dreams of being. It's heartbreaking, really -- the implosion/explosion and boom/bust metaphors woven into its identity, including the 1995 federal building bombing that I covered as a reporter who was sent back home to write about the nature of the place. I was telling a friend from high school about the experience of reading "Boom Town" and encountering all this historical material that I somehow already knew, almost inherently. "Laverne Crumley, duh," she said, recalling our sweet but stern Oklahoma History teacher (all high school freshmen had to take a semester of Oklahoma History, by law). My friend is right -- Mrs. Crumley gave us a great education in our state's chaotic history, people and places. Sam Anderson fills in a lot of holes in the story, particularly as it pertains to Oklahoma City's (and the state's) deplorable record on race and civil rights. As Anderson notes, it's a wonder Oklahoma City isn't uttered in the same breath as Birmingham and other Southern cities, given how hideously its white citizens treated anybody who wasn't white. (Or straight, I hasten to add. Or Christian, others hasten to add.) I was happy and sad reading this book. I left OKC at full escape velocity -- I was a closeted gay kid who wanted to be a journalist, and the city offered me nothing but disappointment in either regard. Part of me wonders: What would it be like to return and make a life there? Answer: I'd have to really like basketball, and I really don't. My only letdown with "Boom Town" is that soooooooo much of it is about the Thunder, the NBA franchise credited with finally putting Oklahoma City on the nation's cultural/entertainment map. I rarely buy into longform narrative journalism about the meaning of sports and sports teams/glory, etc., but I persevered and trusted Sam Anderson to tell the story he wanted to tell. After all, the Thunder is the only reason he visited Oklahoma City in the first place -- on assignment. Good for him for seeing so much more than that and sticking around so long to learn about it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Phil Overeem

    Endlessly fascinating, funny, sad, and familiar reportage about a very American (and very weird) city. Highly recommended especially to readers who'd appreciate the consistent presence of Russell Westbrook, Wayne Coyne, and Gary England in one book. And who don't know who Clara Luper is. Also, Timothy McVeigh makes an appearance...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amy Lawson

    There was so much local buzz around this one and after finishing the book I would agree that this one was worth every bit of that BUZZ. The blurb "fantastical saga of OKC, apocalyptic weather, purloined basketball team, etc...." immediately hooked me and I zoomed through it. I loved how Anderson flipped back and forth between present day and historical Oklahoma and especially loved his reporting on the Land Run. You would think at this point in my life I would know enough about the Oklahoma Land There was so much local buzz around this one and after finishing the book I would agree that this one was worth every bit of that BUZZ. The blurb "fantastical saga of OKC, apocalyptic weather, purloined basketball team, etc...." immediately hooked me and I zoomed through it. I loved how Anderson flipped back and forth between present day and historical Oklahoma and especially loved his reporting on the Land Run. You would think at this point in my life I would know enough about the Oklahoma Land Run but I learned TONS. And, Anderson juxtaposes some of that great stuff with the tormented relationship between the Thunder's Westbrook and Durant and it is just literary magic! I also really enjoyed the few chapters about local legend Gary England and loved reliving some wild Oklahoma weather through these pages. One of the tornadoes mentioned in the book happened during high school and I vividly remember being on the front porch with my dad as sirens blared through Ada, Oklahoma. I heard Andrson interviewed on the New York Times Book Review podcast and would highly recommend. It was only a short 20 minutes but offered a lot of the backstory about what brought this New Yorker to OKC initially. Attaching here in case anyone is interested- https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/07/bo... Prior to picking up this book, I read a blog post about it. The blogger ended with this note, "By the time I finished this doozy of a book, he (Anderson) had me asking: Oklahoma City, where have you been all my life." I felt the same way. Mike and I are committing to venture the 15 miles north more than we do and take in more of this "world-class metropolis" dreamer!!!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    And you ask me why Oklahoma City is the way it is. Really well researched and written, including thanks to Harper Langston whom everyone knows is a pundit!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    Boom Town is centered around Oklahoma City and it's strong will and obstinance to survive and remain relevant since the city's time of conception when people first staked out their claims to this city. This book is a tribute not just to the city but to the people who have made and are still making OKC the kind of city it is today. Sam Anderson, takes his reader, back and forth through a time continuum using history, current events, and sports as the backdrop to tell the story of OKC. He introduc Boom Town is centered around Oklahoma City and it's strong will and obstinance to survive and remain relevant since the city's time of conception when people first staked out their claims to this city. This book is a tribute not just to the city but to the people who have made and are still making OKC the kind of city it is today. Sam Anderson, takes his reader, back and forth through a time continuum using history, current events, and sports as the backdrop to tell the story of OKC. He introduces us to men and women who aren't found in our history books like Ms. Clara Luper an African-American woman who desegregated lunch counters and other business establishments during the Civil Rights. Mr. England, the local celebrity, a meteorologist. Scattered throughout Boom Town, Anderson takes the word Boom and plays with the word and its significance to OKC. Starting out with the landrace, how the city rapidly developed into an urban community, over time how the city would lose everything, the OKC bombing, to the tornadoes that devastated the community, to its sports team that was rapidly making a name for itself-the OKC Thunders to the fame of OKC's life-long most popular citizen-Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips. Anderson draws you in through his storytelling. He draws you into the character development of OKC and its people who live in the city and the politics of the city. He takes snippets and shows us the city. Through each page, Anderson is taking us on a ride showing us the city and how it has changed and how it also has stayed stagnant over time and the city's hope to never give up or to never be lost in the background. Boom Town is a fast read and well-deserved. Each word on the page is used without forethought. Each word is used for purpose and meaning. Anderson invokes all emotions throughout the book and leaves you questioning about development and the importance of it but most of all, how does a city continue to thrive without forgetting the concerns of their citizens who are the most impacted by decisions that are being made. How does a city move forward? How does a city progress? In Boom Town, Anderson finds a way without getting lost in the politics by sharing the ups and downs of OKC. I received an early copy of this book for an early review by NetGalley and Crown Publishing. #BoomTown #NetGalley

  14. 5 out of 5

    E.

    Yes, Oklahoma City is a weird city, and here is an outsider affectionately chronicling some of that weirdness. OKC was also an adopted city for me. I grew up in the NE corner of the state with Tulsa as more of my metropolis and in the 80's it was the far superior city to OKC. But I went to college 45 minutes from downtown OKC and ended up living 14 years in the metro area, 5 in OKC proper. And most of those other years of my life visiting regularly for the family and friends that live there. The Yes, Oklahoma City is a weird city, and here is an outsider affectionately chronicling some of that weirdness. OKC was also an adopted city for me. I grew up in the NE corner of the state with Tulsa as more of my metropolis and in the 80's it was the far superior city to OKC. But I went to college 45 minutes from downtown OKC and ended up living 14 years in the metro area, 5 in OKC proper. And most of those other years of my life visiting regularly for the family and friends that live there. The contemporary parts of the book are largely set in a time when we didn't live there and focus on the city's boosterism around the Thunder. But the chapters about the 80's and 90's are very familiar and the parts about the bombing and the May 3, 1999 tornadoes made me emotional. I was surprised when I first saw a book about OKC being reviewed and reviewed glowingly in the national press. The work is as good as the reviews say.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    Guys, this books is sooooo good. It is rare that I find nonfiction to be a page-turner, especially nonfiction about the city I live in, that is basically telling me things I already know. But this book is so engagingly written, and presents the history and present of OKC in such a personal and unique way that I could not put this down. A word of warning for other Oklahomans reading this -- the parts about the May 2013 tornadoes were super hard for me to read and I suffered no damage from them. I Guys, this books is sooooo good. It is rare that I find nonfiction to be a page-turner, especially nonfiction about the city I live in, that is basically telling me things I already know. But this book is so engagingly written, and presents the history and present of OKC in such a personal and unique way that I could not put this down. A word of warning for other Oklahomans reading this -- the parts about the May 2013 tornadoes were super hard for me to read and I suffered no damage from them. I still was taken right back to the fear of those days. I didn't live here in 1999 or 1995, so if you experienced those years in Oklahoma City just beware of those chapters. A must read for every Oklahoman, and for anyone who wants to understand OKC, living in a mid-tier city in a red state, or just cities striving to be something.

  16. 4 out of 5

    DONNA

    Interesting Approach to Explaining OKC As a native to OKC, I read with curiosity to an outsiders take on our city. Blending the unusual beginning of the city with the story of the OKC Thunder brought interest to a familiar story - with some Flaming Lips, Gary England, oil booms/busts, and bombing tragedy thrown in. It was well written. I think the author failed to convey the true renaissance of our city and effective development that still continues today. We have a wonderful city that surprises Interesting Approach to Explaining OKC As a native to OKC, I read with curiosity to an outsiders take on our city. Blending the unusual beginning of the city with the story of the OKC Thunder brought interest to a familiar story - with some Flaming Lips, Gary England, oil booms/busts, and bombing tragedy thrown in. It was well written. I think the author failed to convey the true renaissance of our city and effective development that still continues today. We have a wonderful city that surprises and delights visitors.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Georgette

    What a gun read! A great read for anyone who likes their sociology mixed in with weather, The Oklahoma City Thunder, history, and The Flaming Lips. I had next to no interest in OKC until this book. Anderson brings all of the free range missiles into wide-eyed, seat-of-your-pants narratives that turn this "little old town" into a fascinating panorama of oddities and heart. One thing's for sure, after reading this, you can't call Oklahoma City dull.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Betsey

    This book made me excited to now be living in OKC. Also happy that I moved here when I did. And nervous for my first tornado season next spring.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rowena Shuma

    Great book. Think I would still enjoy even if I didn’t live in the area!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    3.5 stars

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    I never thought I'd be so engaged in Oklahoma City or basketball or urban infrastructure but this book is magnificent.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Trey Malone

    This is without a doubt in my mind the best book I have read this year. Anyone interested in the history American cities, basketball, or Oklahoma will not be able to put this one down.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Wasn't in the right mood for this and I have other more pressing commitments.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Gross

    Not a book I’d typically pick up, but I loved this. A fantastic look at the weird history of OKC through the lens of their NBA franchise.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eryn C

    I don't care about basketball at all but this was a really interesting read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Martha Steele

    Someone left a copy of this book at work and I read the first page just to get a feel for it. Needless to say it hooked me immediately. I'm not a native Oklahoman but have lived here for nearly 12 years and I really knew nothing of the state's history. Normally I find non-fiction dry and uninteresting but Sam Anderson is a genius! I love his writing style and his humor. Having said that, I did skip the sports chapters. I am a rare breed of person who has zero interest in sports of any kind, so I Someone left a copy of this book at work and I read the first page just to get a feel for it. Needless to say it hooked me immediately. I'm not a native Oklahoman but have lived here for nearly 12 years and I really knew nothing of the state's history. Normally I find non-fiction dry and uninteresting but Sam Anderson is a genius! I love his writing style and his humor. Having said that, I did skip the sports chapters. I am a rare breed of person who has zero interest in sports of any kind, so I just skimmed those parts. Otherwise, I enjoyed the fascinating story of this messed up place I find myself transplanted in. Reading about it's past explains a lot!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Clint Williams

    I have lived in Oklahoma City for my entire life (40 years). Reading this book was just amazing. Sam brings such a fresh perspective to the life and history of Oklahoma. It's one thing to experience the immense change over the last 20 years firsthand, but it's entirely different to experience it through the eyes of an outsider.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Schuyler Wallace

    Not much is ever said about Oklahoma City. It’s not pushed as a glitzy vacation spot. It’s not a glamorous fashion center or a mighty factory town. Its bigness is only associated with its footprint and its devastating weather. Its NBA basketball team is electrifying mainly to its fanatical fans. So, what makes Sam Anderson’s detailed account of Oklahoma City, “Boom Town,” so readable? It’s all in the writing. Oklahoma City has always been about becoming something. The bizarre land rush of 1889 wa Not much is ever said about Oklahoma City. It’s not pushed as a glitzy vacation spot. It’s not a glamorous fashion center or a mighty factory town. Its bigness is only associated with its footprint and its devastating weather. Its NBA basketball team is electrifying mainly to its fanatical fans. So, what makes Sam Anderson’s detailed account of Oklahoma City, “Boom Town,” so readable? It’s all in the writing. Oklahoma City has always been about becoming something. The bizarre land rush of 1889 was filled with wild-eyed optimists who imagined snatching up land that would bring them wealth beyond belief. That was the start of the city’s constant search for promise and order that made it grow like Topsy. But it always stumbled and fell back, over and over, as it tried to grow into the immense shoes it created. It has never quite accomplished that stability, although its city limit footprint is one of the largest in the world. “The Process” is the term used to describe the city’s attempt at a persistent and orderly planning scheme. Mayors, city managers, planning experts, and even the basketball team’s general manger have all extolled “the process” as being the great creator of magnificent schemes aimed at bringing Oklahoma City into world-beating excellence. All have fallen short making the city appear as the clumsy chubby kid trying to dunk a basketball or climb a rope. Sam Anderson uses mind-numbing research and an exciting writing style to chronicle all this energy and industriousness. Through the years many politicians and social scientists have cajoled and convinced the residents to back their schemes. The cycle has gone up and down with huge gains in population and economics, inevitably followed by disasters and fouled plans that return the city to poverty and hubris. Anderson details geography, history, meteorology, and human nature in a gripping narrative style that keeps the reader involved in the story about a municipality that becomes almost human under his touch. He has great insight and information about a myriad of characters that have played a part in this riveting drama. Basketball superstars, oddball musicians, legendary weathermen, dogmatic planners, civil rights activists, and a mad bomber all show up in Anderson’s narrative. This is Sam Anderson’s first book, although he is a staff writer for “The New York Times Magazine.” He captured me with a writing style that was entrancing with its economy and lack of pretentiousness. I became a part of something that perhaps I never thought would be interesting but found to be riveting. He is a joy to read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    sarah morgan

    OMG, what a great book!!! I kept looking at this and thinking, Nah, I don't want to read about Oklahoma City and what do I know or care about professional basketball? But something kept making me look at it again. The cover perhaps? Whatever, I finally requested an advanced reader copy, and thank you Crown Publishing and Net Galley for giving me a chance to read it. I was gobsmacked; it is one of the best books I've read in a long time. It's been described by other reviewers as brilliant and kal OMG, what a great book!!! I kept looking at this and thinking, Nah, I don't want to read about Oklahoma City and what do I know or care about professional basketball? But something kept making me look at it again. The cover perhaps? Whatever, I finally requested an advanced reader copy, and thank you Crown Publishing and Net Galley for giving me a chance to read it. I was gobsmacked; it is one of the best books I've read in a long time. It's been described by other reviewers as brilliant and kaleidoscopic. Yes and yes. The book is indeed about Oklahoma City, the city that desperately wants to be world class but fails at it with regularity. Their airport, for example, is named for their native son, humorist, newspaper columnist, and social commentator, Will Rogers. Will Rogers World Airport, this grandiose title even though no international flights originate from or arrive there. The author and award-winning journalist, Sam Anderson, has a delicious sense of humor. He bounces back and forth between Oklahoma City (OKC) history; a grab bag of odd local characters, both living and dead; and the pride of the city, the basketball team they stole from Seattle, the Thunder (formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics). Bottom line: do yourself a favor and read it. Full review here: https://internetreviewofbooks.blogspo...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pete

    i've read more than a few magazine pieces by sam anderson, not always knowing he wrote them, remarked on their quality, then seen his byline and been like oh duh of course it was good sam anderson wrote it. so duh this book is pretty good because sam anderson wrote it. his prose has a sprightly quality that belies the serious amount of research that makes it possible. i won't say too much about the specific content of this book because encountering the surprises is half the fun -- suffice it to i've read more than a few magazine pieces by sam anderson, not always knowing he wrote them, remarked on their quality, then seen his byline and been like oh duh of course it was good sam anderson wrote it. so duh this book is pretty good because sam anderson wrote it. his prose has a sprightly quality that belies the serious amount of research that makes it possible. i won't say too much about the specific content of this book because encountering the surprises is half the fun -- suffice it to say that the book works through civil rights, weird rearguard manifest destiny, wayne coyne and high-variance meteorology without feeling schizoid. also if you needed the story of the 1990s buffalo bills to unlock a portal to the crisis of american masculinity, it has that. the only real gripe i have with the book is the basketball parts. some of the chapters are blown out versions of the magazine pieces he's done on the thunder over the years, which, good on him for getting paid twice, but if you have read them already or are even just like a mildly attentive NBA fan, there's not that much payoff. they're necessary to the architecture of the book as a commercial object, but i sort of feel like even sam anderson knows they're not as interesting as the actual oklahoma city. there's some missing ballast that might better link the civic psyche of OKC with big timey sports as a wider phenomenon. still, i would read sam anderson describing russell westbrook's entropy for a long time before i got tired of it.

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