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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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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

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  2,614 ratings  ·  450 reviews
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
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published August 21st 2018 by Crown
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4.37  · 
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 ·  2,614 ratings  ·  450 reviews

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Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
As the summer approaches it’s apex I am drawn to books about the south and west, climates where residents have a penchant for front porch story telling. If not a southern verdant, then I find myself moved by tales of the old west, cowboys, Indians, and America’s manifest destiny to overtake an entire continent. Oklahoma is in America’s fly over country en route to either coast and is best known for foisting Indian territory from the native Americans and for its inferiority complex and rivalry wi ...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: truthiness, usa, oklahoma
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.
Hank Stuever
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
L.A. Starks
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

Boom Town is one of those books that I refer to as "It's all right there in the title, folks."

Anderson - with a a lot of well-placed humor and extensive research - examines the origin of the relatively young metropolis, that is firmly entrenched in what is called America's 'flyover country,' starting with the chaotic Land Run of 1889 (where the settlers physically raced in to the then-territory to claim real estate -- probably best known from its depiction in the Tom Cruise / Nicole Kid
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Ron S
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: oklahoma, history
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.
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
This came as a nice surprise for me. Meet someone and tell them you read and they tell you about a book written by their friend and you go out and get a copy because that's just the kind of guy you are.

So but you know how we're all working through this list of novels we call Großstadtromane? It's here ::
Well, Boom Town is kind of like that. Except it's nonfiction. And it's about a Town that only wants to be groß, that thinks itself to be groß, that wills
Uriel Perez
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction
How is this book not on every "best of 2018" list for non-fiction? So fun, so well-written, so fascinating (I listened to it on audiobook--great listen as well). The majority of my family is from Oklahoma, and that's what compelled me to pick up the book but I would've loved this anyway, regardless of any connection. I love sports but hate the NBA but the Thunder storyline is so fantastically woven into the overall narrative I was completely hooked. The author tackles the founding of the city, t ...more
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
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,
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: oklahoma
What a fucking trip. Living in Oklahoma City definitely fertilizes the soil here, but I think I might've loved this book even if I didn't. Sam Anderson's writing is bright, conspiratorial, and funny; it's snarky but not mean, personal but not self-centered. He tells the story of Oklahoma City, from its bizarre artificially inseminated birth to its sleek new basketball franchise. The Thunder, in fact, consume about half the book; perhaps it's more accurate to say that this book intertwines the hi ...more
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The 5-star rating may be a little biased considering I’m a lifelong Oklahoma resident, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author covers all the big events/themes in OKC history - the Land Run, the oil booms & busts, Clara Luper & the civil rights movement, the OKC bombing, the Thunder, the tornado tragedies - and also touches on really interesting small details. I found myself both laughing out loud and crying at different points, and I found it really interesting to see decades of ...more
Y'all, this was so fun.

So, so fun. Anderson takes as his starting point the entirely reasonable view that US history is little pockets of weirdness driven by racism, guns and money, and we go from there.

Even by the standards of 19th century US history the founding of Oklahoma takes the weirdness cake. After conveniently driving off the indigenous people who lived there and/or had been driven there at bayonet-point, massive amounts of settlers lined up at the edges of the state until seven diff
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Overall a really amusing book... Definitely can recommend as an audiobook (narrated by the author). It's part history, sports recap, and anecdotal life in Oklahoma City. Anderson tells readers of OKC's land run days, its eagerness to grow as a metropolis (good luck with that), its civil rights movement, the Oklahoma City bombing, disastrous tornadoes and the weathermen who follow them, and of course: Thunder basketball. He focuses on the humor and irony and weirdness of Oklahoma City, so you wil ...more
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 Harden's trademark beard 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
Trey Malone
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it
As someone who has lived in Oklahoma since 1987 (I think?), I was interested to see what an outsider thought and also learn about Oklahoma history since i had largely forgotten everything from my Oklahoma history class in ninth grade. I did learn many things in this book and found it very educational, but I found the author so pompous and desperate to hang out with famous people that it ruined the book for me. He wanted to make sure that every reader knew that he was from New York, that Oklahoma ...more
Gary Siebert
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am so glad this book was written. Outside of Oklahoma, people only seem to be acquainted with a caricature of the state, if they give any thought to Oklahoma at all. We (I'm a lifetime resident of 50 years) don't help ourselves much either, with national news reports seemingly confirming the nation's worst prejudices about us. Hopefully, this book can at least give some broader perspective to our goofiness and outsiders (and insiders) should thoroughly enjoy this book. To be sure, this is not ...more
Lora Reed
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing

This book was recommended to me by my 29 year old daughter who is one of the young people who now enjoys the re-generation of Oklahoma City, with its Bricktown, Riverwalk, Arts Culture, NBA Thunder team and many other hustle and bustle things to see and do while living in downtown Oklahoma City.

When I was about my daughter's age in the late 1970's, early 1980's I worked at the Kerr McGee Building and subsequently, at what was then called “The Liberty National Bank Building” in downtown Oklahom
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oklahoma City has been my home my entire life. I was 7 when the bombing happened and my mother worked across the street from the Murrah Building. I was 11 when May 3rd tore into my neighborhood halving it into destroyed lots and spared houses, I was 25 living in Moore when May 30th ate and digested my home. My friends homes. Everyone's home. Leaving nothing but a dystopian like waste land and a sadness so deep nothing could touch it. I remember everything so vividly, tragedy describes my life gr ...more
Just as sprawly and eccentric as the subtitle implies. The author hops back and forth between basketball, history, civil rights, economics, weather, urban planning, fracking, and many other topics.

Wayne Coyne is a beautiful genius.

The author describes the Oklahoma City bombing sensitively.

I think my favorite part was the description of the 12-hour-long live televised weather forecast during a tornado outbreak. The meteorologist, a 20-year veteran of the station at the time, gave instructions to
Eliza McNitt
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a meteorology buff, I was excited to read about a part of the country that, because of its location at the intersection of warm southerly winds and arctic cold fronts, is often subjected to severe weather. Needless to say, I was sucked into the book like it was an F4 tornado. The author's descriptions of these weather events made this a real page turner for a weather fan like myself. Of course, some of the other parts of the book weren't about the weather at all but would be interesting to so ...more
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed learning about a city that daily feels more like home. Although I wish the author would have focused on some more topics that really drive the city (Tinker AFB, culture, etc) instead of the plethora of details about the Thunder, I enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek of the author and the knowledge of the city and it’s upbringing.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book felt like it was written just for me - 1/3 about basketball, 1/3 about history, and 1/3 about urban development/meteorology/current events, all set in Oklahoma. It read like an extended Grantland or Ringer piece.

My one wish is that the author used citations and had a fully-fleshed bibliography. I have higher expectations authors citing works after reading nonfiction by David Grann and Erik Larson.
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
EXCELLENT. He absolutely nails everything in this book. I'm an Okie born and bred and I learned so much in this book. Anderson is thorough in his analysis and insight into this place in multiple facets. Incredible...I want to read it again!
Lennon Patton
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wild ride that was educational, entertaining, and infuriating all at once. Highly recommended for anyone who loves and lives in OKC. Heads up that the OKC bombing chapters are *very* hard to process. I took several breaks during this part to grieve and exercise out my anger.
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
My interest in, and enjoyment of, this book was definitely a reverse bell curve. That being said, it was a fascinating book, and I liked that this was a somewhat different style of non-fiction book.
Phil Overeem
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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...
Barnabas Piper
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Civil Rights Hero
Civil Rights Heroine
Land Rush
Insane politicians
Celebrity meterologists

These are just a few of the things that made this book remarkably interesting. Anderson did a masterful job weaving past and present together to paint a picture of a city I knew nothing, and cared even less, about. It's more a history of Middle America, where worlds and weather collides, than anything else. It is fascinating.
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Sam Anderson is an American book reviewer and author. He is the critic at large for The New York Times Magazine. Prior to joining The New York Times Magazine, he was a book critic at New York Magazine. In 2007 he received the Balakian Award for Excellence in Criticism from the National Book Critics Circle.

He holds a masters degree from Louisiana State University.
“The Land Run should be called something like “Chaos Explosion Apocalypse Town” or “Reckoning of the DoomSettlers: Clusterfuck on the Prairie.” 3 likes
“It’s unclear, in fact, what part of the country Oklahoma actually belongs to. It is spoken of, variously, as part of the Southwest, Midwest, Bible Belt, and Heartland. It’s easier to say what it is not: it’s not the arid West or the frigid North or the humid South or the old-world East. Instead, it is precisely where all of those things meet.” 1 likes
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