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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

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 4 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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...

  7. 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!!!

  8. 4 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

  9. 4 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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    EDandDONNA

    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.

  11. 5 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.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rowena Shuma

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

  13. 5 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!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eryn C

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

  15. 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!

  16. 4 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.

  17. 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...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Romero

    I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I've lived in Nichols Hills since Hurricane Katrina spit us out of Mississippi's Gulf Coast. The entire state has been a mystery to me. I had never heard of Sam Anderson, sorry Sam, but I won't forget him! This was the best unvarnished look at who makes the rules here and what the powers that be have envisioned for the city.  Oklahoma City is a huge sprawling area of tiny pockets of old-established neighborhoods. While there have been huge improvements I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I've lived in Nichols Hills since Hurricane Katrina spit us out of Mississippi's Gulf Coast. The entire state has been a mystery to me. I had never heard of Sam Anderson, sorry Sam, but I won't forget him! This was the best unvarnished look at who makes the rules here and what the powers that be have envisioned for the city.  Oklahoma City is a huge sprawling area of tiny pockets of old-established neighborhoods. While there have been huge improvements to downtown OKC, beyond the city center the homeless linger under bridges and overpasses and oil and gas rules. Unemployment is rampant unless you are an oil field worker and even then you may only have a job until it's bonus time. From the Land Run to Aubrey Mclendon's spectacular exit from his oil and gas woes to the Flaming Lips front man Wayne Coyne, whose house I have been in and it is just as weird and wacko as Sam will tell you about. I laughed so hard all the way through this book. Sam has captured the city perfectly as well as all of its most colorful residents. Very Well Done and I look forward to more from this author! Netgalley/August 21st 2018 by Crown 

  19. 4 out of 5

    Vegantrav

    Boom Town tells the story of my adopted home city, Oklahoma City, where I have lived for almost all my adult life. I love this city, and I love this book. As such, my take on Boom Town is probably not as objective and unbiased as it could be; nevertheless, I think even those who have never been to Oklahoma City and have no real interest in Oklahoma City will still find it a great read. Sam Anderson chooses to tell his history of Oklahoma City through the lens of the city's beloved NBA team, the T Boom Town tells the story of my adopted home city, Oklahoma City, where I have lived for almost all my adult life. I love this city, and I love this book. As such, my take on Boom Town is probably not as objective and unbiased as it could be; nevertheless, I think even those who have never been to Oklahoma City and have no real interest in Oklahoma City will still find it a great read. Sam Anderson chooses to tell his history of Oklahoma City through the lens of the city's beloved NBA team, the Thunder. But Boom Town is not just about the Thunder: Anderson begins with the overnight founding of the city in the Land Run of 1889, and he follows the city's fortunes from those early days to the present. Boom Town, however, is not a piece of public relations journalism for Oklahoma City: Anderson depicts the city not only at its best but at its worst: he covers the shameful racism, the rampant corporate greed, the grimy political machinations, and the ridiculous buffoonery and even criminality of some the city's most influential citizens. But he also shows the city at its finest, when it has pulled together to face the consequences of terrible tragedies: as I read Anderson's sections on the bombing of the Murrah Building and the devastating tornadoes of 1999 and 2013 (events of which I have vivid personal memories), I was moved to tears, and even as someone who lived through those events, I still learned a few new things from Anderson's history. Boom Town is a fun, funny, fascinating, heart-breaking, somber, sometimes maddening, and, in the end, inspiring biography of Oklahoma City. Even if you know nothing about Oklahoma City and couldn't even locate it on a map, I think you'll enjoy this book. One caveat: much of this book (probably about a third) is devoted to the Oklahoma City Thunder, so if you're not a basketball fan, these sections might not quite hold your interest, but even I am only a casual fan, and I still found the Thunder sections very engaging. But if you are a basketball fan (especially if you are a Thunder fan), you really need to read this book. Sam Anderson is not a native of Oklahoma City, but in the process of writing this book, as he himself admits, he came to feel like an Oklahoman. I think he fell in love with this city. But as in any truly loving relationship, Anderson still sees the flaws in his beloved, and his book is honest about the city's shortcomings. I loved this book almost as much as I love Oklahoma City, and part of the joy of reading this book, for me, was being able to get an outsider's view--certainly a much more objective view than my own--of my adopted home city. Bravo, Mr. Anderson. Bravo!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Patrick McCoy

    Boom Town (2018) by Sam Anderson is a fascinating look at the Midwestern town of Oklahoma City. The book was birthed from an assignment Anderson was given as a reporter to follow the surprising success of the city's upstart NBA team, the Oklahoma City Thunder (who were stolen from the city of Seattle-a team that I had supported until their untimely move) then led by Keven Durant and Russell Westbrook. As Anderson began researching the city he was drawn into the unlikely beginnings of the city th Boom Town (2018) by Sam Anderson is a fascinating look at the Midwestern town of Oklahoma City. The book was birthed from an assignment Anderson was given as a reporter to follow the surprising success of the city's upstart NBA team, the Oklahoma City Thunder (who were stolen from the city of Seattle-a team that I had supported until their untimely move) then led by Keven Durant and Russell Westbrook. As Anderson began researching the city he was drawn into the unlikely beginnings of the city that appeared over night after the infamous "Land Run" of 1889. The region is also well known for unpredictable and destructive tornadoes that threaten the inhabitants every year and unveiled one of Anderson's main characters, Gary England, a folksy TV reporter and Doppler radar expert who dedicated his life to help people avoid the overpowering destruction that tornadoes leave in their wake. Another main character in this saga is Wayne Coyne, the lead singer of the alternative rock band Flaming Lips, of which I have been a fan for many years, a man who never abandoned his home city and represents the artistic soul of the city that also produced Ralph Ellison. Thus the city's racist past is also discussed as well as its famous activist Clara Luper. Anderson starts with the positives of the city before finally getting around to what most people know about Oklahoma City, the infamous Oklahoma City Murrah Building bombing of 1995 by terrorist Timothy McVeigh, near the end of the book. In between there are many other stories that are told such as the city planning triumphs and miscues over the years as well as the home grown Thunder bench rider Daniel Orton. The story is told in the context of the 2012 Thunder season which began with the blockbuster trade of sixth man sensation James Harden to the Houston Rockets-who they were destined to meet in the first round of the playoffs in a season where Harden emerged as a new superstar. It is one of those rare books that is as much about sports (the 2012 Thunder) as it is about a time (the 20th century) and a place (Oklahoma City). There are many captivating facts and compelling narrative stories interspersed throughout this entertaining book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Edwin Howard

    BOOMTOWN by Sam Anderson provides a vivid, unique and entertaining view of the history of Oklahoma City, from the Land Run that haphazardly created this one-of-a-kind city, all the way to the OKC Thunder, which brought much needed attention to a city who seemed to have lost it's identity recently. Anderson balanced present and past stories of Oklahoma City and all the time showed the boom (and eventual bust) approach to all things. That through line was felt in well researched stories of the cr BOOMTOWN by Sam Anderson provides a vivid, unique and entertaining view of the history of Oklahoma City, from the Land Run that haphazardly created this one-of-a-kind city, all the way to the OKC Thunder, which brought much needed attention to a city who seemed to have lost it's identity recently. Anderson balanced present and past stories of Oklahoma City and all the time showed the boom (and eventual bust) approach to all things. That through line was felt in well researched stories of the creation and growth of the city and also through the more recent chapters about the NBA Thunder team and Wanye Coyne, lead signer of the band The Flaming Lips, amongst others. For a reader like me who hasn't been to central US much and never to Oklahoma, Anderson does an excellent of of creating a desire for me to visit, in spite of Anderson's very clear description of the awful weather, the recent rise in earthquakes, and the general isolation from much of the rest of the US that Oklahoma City feels daily. That's one of the reasons that Anderson's book is so good, his writing draws you into a very unconventional and often despressing city because it's clear that Anderson has an strong affinity for the city and wants his readers to as well. Oklahoma City is like no other major city in the US; it's creation, it's mentality, it's weather beaten history. Sam Anderson's BOOMTOWN paints a clear and realistic picture of Oklahoma City, warts and all. Any reader interesting in finding out about such a rare and wonderful city Oklahoma City reall is would enjoy this book. Thank you to Crown Publishing, Sam Anderson, and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    Oklahoma City? It's the capital and largest city in Oklahoma. It was the scene of an horrific domestic terrorist bombing in the mid-1990's. It was founded in a land rush and has suffered the same booms and busts as many other primarily energy-based economies have suffered over the years. Today, it's the home of the NBA basketball team. the Thunder, which the city may or may not have poached from their original home in Seattle. This is the city that American author Sam Anderson has chosen to diss Oklahoma City? It's the capital and largest city in Oklahoma. It was the scene of an horrific domestic terrorist bombing in the mid-1990's. It was founded in a land rush and has suffered the same booms and busts as many other primarily energy-based economies have suffered over the years. Today, it's the home of the NBA basketball team. the Thunder, which the city may or may not have poached from their original home in Seattle. This is the city that American author Sam Anderson has chosen to dissect in has fabulous new book, "Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City". Sam Anderson's book consists of many short chapters, written in a certain order. There's one chapter about the NBA basketball team, so important to the city trying to expand their ranking in the list of American cities. That chapter is then followed by one or two about the city's history and social development. Anderson uses this method throughout his book so the book jumps around, but somehow it's not confusing. He's also such a good writer (or he has such a good editor) that there's barely a wasted word or sentence in the book. And that's quite a feat in a work of non-fiction. So, why sit down and read a 400 page book on Oklahoma City? I can't give you a reason other than the book is a great read. I suppose I was interested because I passed through the city on a move from Santa Fe to Chicago and stopped to see the Murrah Building Bombing memorial. As we drove around the city on a sleepy Sunday, we found it was a city with intriguing architecture. I know that after reading Sam Anderson's book, I'd like to return and look at the city through his eyes.

  23. 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.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jamele (BookswithJams)

    This was such a great book! I was not sure how it would be to read nonfiction on the history of Oklahoma City, but it was truly an enjoyable and fascinating read! I loved how the author tied it all to the Oklahoma Thunder, but literally started from the beginning of when OKC was formed and covered ground on the key events to present day. I am from Dallas, so I am vaguely familiar with key events, such as weather, the bombing, the oil boom, etc., but I had no idea about the Land Run, sonic boom t This was such a great book! I was not sure how it would be to read nonfiction on the history of Oklahoma City, but it was truly an enjoyable and fascinating read! I loved how the author tied it all to the Oklahoma Thunder, but literally started from the beginning of when OKC was formed and covered ground on the key events to present day. I am from Dallas, so I am vaguely familiar with key events, such as weather, the bombing, the oil boom, etc., but I had no idea about the Land Run, sonic boom testing on residents (horrific), the Flaming Lips, and many other characters and events. This was a well written book that kept my attention, was not dry, and provided just enough detail that I felt I got a thorough explanation of everything I needed to know about this city. I am shocked at how much time Anderson spent in this town interviewing residents, researching stories, and even went on the walk by himself that the residents wanting to claim land during the Land Run would have had to do. Very impressive. I highly recommend this book even if you are not from Oklahoma, and even if you do not like the Flaming Lips! Thanks to NetGalley for an electronic ARC of this book to review. All opinions are my own.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Did you ever stop and wonder about Oklahoma City? For those who live in the state of Oklahoma this might be a yes but for the rest of us it is not likely. Despite that this book pulls you in and gives a visage into the formation of state founded on chaos and parts of the Old West and plains that one would expect to find. It does an excellent job of looking at Oklahoma’s rise from dirt plot to frontier town to midsize city and how it tries to reinvent itself in later America. The Oklahoma City bo Did you ever stop and wonder about Oklahoma City? For those who live in the state of Oklahoma this might be a yes but for the rest of us it is not likely. Despite that this book pulls you in and gives a visage into the formation of state founded on chaos and parts of the Old West and plains that one would expect to find. It does an excellent job of looking at Oklahoma’s rise from dirt plot to frontier town to midsize city and how it tries to reinvent itself in later America. The Oklahoma City bombing is covered well and some of the most interesting pieces relate to stories of a local Oklahoma weatherman and the threat of tornadoes to the surrounding area and city. This book spends a lot of time on the Oklahoma Thunder basketball team trying to elate it back to parts of history and is mildly successful in doing so. The one part of the book that just drags on is the story’s of the Flaming Lips front man. Overall though an enjoyable read and one that puts a perspective on a place that not many people think about in a fresh and entertaining way. If you are also a basketball fan you would probably bump this up to a 4 star rating but for me it was a little too much basketball.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Such a triumph! Hard to believe it's non-fiction. I've been an Oklahoma resident since I moved to Tulsa about fifteen years ago. I visit OKC a few times a year for events and to visit family, and I've been a fan of the Thunder for several years. All that to say, it seemed pretty obvious I should read this book. I'm so glad I did! This book is outstanding! In a story-telling style with short chapters alternating between the early years of the city and more recent milestones, Anderson tells the "fa Such a triumph! Hard to believe it's non-fiction. I've been an Oklahoma resident since I moved to Tulsa about fifteen years ago. I visit OKC a few times a year for events and to visit family, and I've been a fan of the Thunder for several years. All that to say, it seemed pretty obvious I should read this book. I'm so glad I did! This book is outstanding! In a story-telling style with short chapters alternating between the early years of the city and more recent milestones, Anderson tells the "fantastical saga" of Oklahoma City by introducing the real people who initiated, observed, and/or contributed to the significant events of OKC's history. It's filled with humor and pathos and universal truths. I can't decide which I liked better: learning bits of the city's compelling history I didn't already know, or reminiscing through the chapters about events I recall. There's plenty of both. I'd recommend this book to anyone, but especially anyone who has a connection to Oklahoma City, or even Oklahoma in general. It will appeal to US history buffs, civil engineers, Thunder basketball fans, and tornado aficionados.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ed Chase

    I could not put this book down. The author vividly shows that OKC is more than tornadoes and the federal building bombing. Starting with the land run of 1889 to the Oklahoma Thunders amazing playoff run in 2016, OKC has been a city torn between wild energy and the forces that seek sustainable progress. The main star of this book is the Oklahoma Thunder, the only professional sports franchise in Oklahoma. The general manager Sam Presti starts a firestorm when he trades budding superstar James Har I could not put this book down. The author vividly shows that OKC is more than tornadoes and the federal building bombing. Starting with the land run of 1889 to the Oklahoma Thunders amazing playoff run in 2016, OKC has been a city torn between wild energy and the forces that seek sustainable progress. The main star of this book is the Oklahoma Thunder, the only professional sports franchise in Oklahoma. The general manager Sam Presti starts a firestorm when he trades budding superstar James Harden before the start of the 2012 season. Presti’s gamble on the “process” - the patient, methodical management style that framed the trade as the teams best hope for long term greatness, kicked off a year that would kick off a year in the city’s history which would include battles over urban planning, a series of cataclysmic tornadoes, and the Thunders’ drive for an NBA championship.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    This is a real fun historical read. I might actually rate it a 3.5, but round up to reward the educational value! I learned A LOT about OKC....from the very beginning .....when OK wasn't even yet a State, to present day. It covers/explains politics, geography, history, sensationalism, sports, celebrities ......all in an easily readable manner....making it a very interesting read. Nothing dry & boring about this book! I didn't even know that I'd want to learn or know anything about OKC....I k This is a real fun historical read. I might actually rate it a 3.5, but round up to reward the educational value! I learned A LOT about OKC....from the very beginning .....when OK wasn't even yet a State, to present day. It covers/explains politics, geography, history, sensationalism, sports, celebrities ......all in an easily readable manner....making it a very interesting read. Nothing dry & boring about this book! I didn't even know that I'd want to learn or know anything about OKC....I kind of found myself saying "Really?!" The author did a good job of researching & telling about all kinds of quirky, side stories that color the story about the city. Well worth the read! I received this e-ARC from Penguin's First-To-Read program, in exchange for my own fair & honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Adria

    Very interesting book, the narrative of which which includes a mixture of journalistic and historical writing styles. Easy to read with touching and thoughtful descriptions of civil rights persona, athletes, weather experts, novelists and business chicanery. good book for airports or summer reading. The chapters have the unfortunate modern tendency of skipping from one topic to the next; however that same tendency will allow any reader to quickly find a chapter of interest, set aside or pick up Very interesting book, the narrative of which which includes a mixture of journalistic and historical writing styles. Easy to read with touching and thoughtful descriptions of civil rights persona, athletes, weather experts, novelists and business chicanery. good book for airports or summer reading. The chapters have the unfortunate modern tendency of skipping from one topic to the next; however that same tendency will allow any reader to quickly find a chapter of interest, set aside or pick up again as time allows. Worth the read and I recommend it those who grew up or lived in Oklahoma. May help answer that burning childhood question: what is Oklahoma? midwest, great plains, the South, Southwest, Indian territory, tornado alley? this book tries to answer some of those questions.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Krause

    Though not a native I’ve lived in Oklahoma, and specifically Oklahoma City, over 4 decades. I’m sure having lived through all the modern day history helped me to love this book as I can picture the places and events accounted within its pages. But I learned a lot too and I loved Anderson’s approach to informing his readers about this incredible place, the remarkable real people who live and work and play here through the juxtaposition of the Thunder’s arrival and the love affair we have with the Though not a native I’ve lived in Oklahoma, and specifically Oklahoma City, over 4 decades. I’m sure having lived through all the modern day history helped me to love this book as I can picture the places and events accounted within its pages. But I learned a lot too and I loved Anderson’s approach to informing his readers about this incredible place, the remarkable real people who live and work and play here through the juxtaposition of the Thunder’s arrival and the love affair we have with the team and the evolution of the city from the day of the Land Run to the present. I❤️OKC! And Boomtown captures the essence of it!

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