Boom Town


Oklahoma City has an origin story unlike any other in American history. It didn't creep into existence over dozens of years and several generations. In fact, it didn't exist at all until noon on April 22, 1889. A few weeks later, nearly 10,000 people lived there.

Boom Town is a celebration of what author Sam Anderson calls "one of the great weirdo cities of the world." Drawn from Anderson's time covering the city's professional basketball team—which leapt from nonexistent to a title contender in just a few years—the collection of essays darts between locker room drama, the city's odd history, and his Gonzo-esque explorations of its eclectic modern culture.

A year after its founding, Oklahoma City's first mayor was shot and killed. Congress revoked the chaotic place's self-rule charter soon after and named a neighboring town the territorial capital. The city's peculiar history includes travails local and national, from dust storms to a failed '70s urban redevelopment effort that left the downtown nearly abandoned, from the departure of superstar basketballer James Harden to the 1995 terrorist destruction of a government building.

Through it all, Anderson traces the resilience of Oklahoma City: a story of accomplishments built atop failures, of creative individuals scraping success out of an unappealing corner of America—and then, later, literally pulling it out of the ground in the form of oil and natural gas.

The basketball team never won a title, but Oklahoma City has been through worse, and the booms keep coming.