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The New Wild West: Black Gold, Fracking, and Life in a North Dakota Boomtown

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Williston, North Dakota was a sleepy farm town for generations--until the frackers arrived. The oil companies moved into Williston, overtaking the town and setting off a boom that America hadn't seen since the Gold Rush. Workers from all over the country descended, chasing jobs that promised them six-figure salaries and demanded no prior experience. But for every person cha Williston, North Dakota was a sleepy farm town for generations--until the frackers arrived. The oil companies moved into Williston, overtaking the town and setting off a boom that America hadn't seen since the Gold Rush. Workers from all over the country descended, chasing jobs that promised them six-figure salaries and demanded no prior experience. But for every person chasing the American dream, there is a darker side--reports of violence and sexual assault skyrocketed, schools overflowed, and housing prices soared. Real estate is such a hot commodity that tent cities popped up, and many workers' only option was to live out of their cars. Farmers whose families had tended the land for generations watched, powerless, as their fields were bulldozed to make way for one oil rig after another. Written in the vein Ted Conover and Jon Krakauer, using a mix of first-person adventure and cultural analysis, The New Wild West is the definitive account of what's happening on the ground and what really happens to a community when the energy industry is allowed to set up in a town with little regulation or oversight--and at what cost.


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Williston, North Dakota was a sleepy farm town for generations--until the frackers arrived. The oil companies moved into Williston, overtaking the town and setting off a boom that America hadn't seen since the Gold Rush. Workers from all over the country descended, chasing jobs that promised them six-figure salaries and demanded no prior experience. But for every person cha Williston, North Dakota was a sleepy farm town for generations--until the frackers arrived. The oil companies moved into Williston, overtaking the town and setting off a boom that America hadn't seen since the Gold Rush. Workers from all over the country descended, chasing jobs that promised them six-figure salaries and demanded no prior experience. But for every person chasing the American dream, there is a darker side--reports of violence and sexual assault skyrocketed, schools overflowed, and housing prices soared. Real estate is such a hot commodity that tent cities popped up, and many workers' only option was to live out of their cars. Farmers whose families had tended the land for generations watched, powerless, as their fields were bulldozed to make way for one oil rig after another. Written in the vein Ted Conover and Jon Krakauer, using a mix of first-person adventure and cultural analysis, The New Wild West is the definitive account of what's happening on the ground and what really happens to a community when the energy industry is allowed to set up in a town with little regulation or oversight--and at what cost.

30 review for The New Wild West: Black Gold, Fracking, and Life in a North Dakota Boomtown

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mikey B.

    This book examines the environmental and human consequences of the onslaught of fracking for oil and gas in North Dakota. It is a harsh land – hot in summer and cold in the winter – and there is always the wind. The author presents us with interesting people profiles of those who live in North Dakota and those who came for jobs and money. There are “men camps” for the workers (predominantly male). There behavior towards any women – and even towards other males - is decidedly juvenile, sexist, and This book examines the environmental and human consequences of the onslaught of fracking for oil and gas in North Dakota. It is a harsh land – hot in summer and cold in the winter – and there is always the wind. The author presents us with interesting people profiles of those who live in North Dakota and those who came for jobs and money. There are “men camps” for the workers (predominantly male). There behavior towards any women – and even towards other males - is decidedly juvenile, sexist, and degrading. Environmental regulations (chemical and oil spills) and human relations in the workplace are constantly overlooked and disregarded. It’s all about the money for the workers and production for the oil companies. The author gave one example of the workers being on the job for 12 hours per day for a seven day stretch – and this is manual, dirty outdoor work. Accidents happen, there are cover-ups, and don’t bother reporting the problems. We get a very searing portrait of the underbelly of American life during an oil boom. There is a migration of families to find employment to this “promised land”. People are living in their cars when it is -20C, and huge trailer “men camps” have no plumbing and showers. Currently the boom has gone bust, but just for now. We are given descriptions of the technology of fracking and the hard physical work involved in retrieving this energy source. We like our energy but this book demonstrates the long-term costs on the health of the employees and the affects on the environment. Whether intentional or not, this book is about power and who wields that power. And it is the oil companies that have made both the state of North Dakota and the federal government (now even more so in the hands of big business) overlook workers rights and laws that were put in place to protect us from contamination of the environment to favour the extraction of oil and gas.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    Fracking made it possible to retrieve the oil reserves of the Bakkan Ridge. Blaire Briody shows the effect of the resulting oil boom on the town of Williston, ND. There are chapters on how fracking works, the environmental problems and the inability of state and/or federal regulators do anything about them and the legal and political issues for Native American tribes, but the story is primarily about the sociology of this modern day gold rush. It is told through people. Workers, hoping for 6 fig Fracking made it possible to retrieve the oil reserves of the Bakkan Ridge. Blaire Briody shows the effect of the resulting oil boom on the town of Williston, ND. There are chapters on how fracking works, the environmental problems and the inability of state and/or federal regulators do anything about them and the legal and political issues for Native American tribes, but the story is primarily about the sociology of this modern day gold rush. It is told through people. Workers, hoping for 6 figure pay checks, flocked to Williston which was not equipped to see its population double (and more). There are many examples of the strained the infrastructure: more traffic, crime and stress on utilities. Tripling rents priced out long term residents. Home owners who once did not lock their doors, had new worries. Some companies provided housing in “man camps” (trailer park style settlements) but these were not enough. Some found space in campgrounds, some an hour’s ride away. Many used their last dollars to get to Williston, and joined those who, while they may have had jobs and some cash, slept in their cars. The pastor of the Methodist church, to the horror of his congregation, opens its doors to the homeless transients. Not everyone can get a job in the lucrative oil fields. Some make $8/hour in retail and $15-20 under the table in construction, Most who come are white males. Exceptions to this are a Tongan work crew and a 50+ aged woman who faced harassment and discrimination that, as told here, is blatant and relentless. Many who come are alcoholics, leaving behind debts and unstable work histories. Some were downsized in the recession, some were forced into bankruptcy. One couple from Indiana/Kentucky came to pay off student loans and build a nest egg. Most others have little sign of education but every sign of weak or strained family ties. This is a very sad portrait. People from all over went to ND to achieve some form of financial security. They entered a place with harsh weather conditions and little in the way of creature comforts (even trailers with running water are prone to pipes freezing and bursting) and little entertainment (bars seem to be the only thing. Not even WiFi seems to be available). The environmental damage, which is all around them, is way beneath their radar. As oil prices went down, crews downsized and work teams left. The last Chapter shows Williston with an expanded infrastructure, debt and fewer people. The boom and bust are so recent that, despite the lack of a market, one high rise is still under construction. This is a very good portrait by a very brave journalist.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Randal White

    Briody's book documents the rise (and fall) of America's latest "gold rush", fracking. The newfound ability to unlock formerly unattainable (financially and technically) oil reserves. She does this through telling the story of the Bakken oil field in North Dakota. The perfect place to explore this new technology, a relatively poor, unpopulated, and somewhat isolated area of the country. A place that really needed the financial gains that would be provided by the business. A place that wouldn't Briody's book documents the rise (and fall) of America's latest "gold rush", fracking. The newfound ability to unlock formerly unattainable (financially and technically) oil reserves. She does this through telling the story of the Bakken oil field in North Dakota. The perfect place to explore this new technology, a relatively poor, unpopulated, and somewhat isolated area of the country. A place that really needed the financial gains that would be provided by the business. A place that wouldn't be readily under the eye of environmentalists or conservationists. A place where it seems a little money spread around would appease any government officials who grew concerned about the effects on the environment. Briody explains the reasons why the newest "gold rush" was welcome. They are eerily similar to former get rich quick schemes in our past. Following the economic problems created by the housing collapse, there were a lot of "blue collar" workers who found themselves out of work, unable to find new jobs, or to afford the homes they were living in. As she points out, "manufacturing lost 6 million jobs between 2000 and 2009, and the construction industry shed another 2 million during the recession...the oil and gas industry, particularly in western North Dakota, emerged as a shining mecca". A large migration of these people began to the North Dakota oil field. In her book, the author concentrates on the Williston, ND, area. Part of my territory in my career had been spent covering North Dakota. The Williston area, while having wonderful people living there, was not a booming metropolis. It was ill prepared for a large influx of people, most of whom were young men. It did not have housing, shopping, roads, hospitals, sanitation facilities, etc, etc, for an overnight influx of people. Yet, suddenly, there they were. Men were forced to live in camping trailers, tents, or worse. Suddenly confronted with a group of young men with no outlets for "recreation", Williston found itself inundated with strip joints, bars, drug use, and prostitution. Locals found themselves forced out of their housing because of astronomically rising rents. The author discovered that statewide, homicides were at the highest level in 20 years. Rapes were at the highest level in 10 years. Drug related arrests were up 64 percent since 2002. And alcohol was a factor in more than half of the deadly traffic accidents in the state in 2012. Yet, the social impacts were not the worst of the problems Williston found itself facing. Environmentally, fracking was destroying the area. Oil and chemical spills abounded. Water quality went downhill. And no one was acting to protect the environment. As the author pointed out, "Back in 2005, when fracking for natural gas was growing rapidly, the Bush-Cheney administration passed a bill that exempted fracking operations from the Safe Drinking Water Act". Contracts were structured so that if any accidents happened on site, the big oil companies were insulated so that small companies were stuck with any fines or legal proceedings. State agencies, responsible for enforcing rules regarding spills and other violations, dropped the ball. In a three year period, the state issued fewer than 50 fines for all drilling violations, including thousands of spills. And the Federal Government was hamstrung. The EPA could only investigate spills on federal lands, it had to refer incidents on private property to the (nonexistant) state regulators. As with all get-rich-quick schemes, eventually the boom crashed. Oil prices plummeted. By 2016, the price per barrel of oil was under $35, down from the peak of $145 eight years earlier. Some 10,000 jobs were cut over 2015 in North Dakota. For the most part, thousands of blue-collar workers were back where they started, struggling to survive. The author pointed out an interesting side-note. "The worry and uncertainty oil workers felt during this time coincided with the rise of Donald Trump's popularity during the 2016 election. Trump campaigned heavily in oil patch regions and tapped into people's anger. He blamed the struggling oil industry on President Obama's regulatory policies and promised to use his business prowess to unleash a U.S. energy revolution". (Yeah, how's that working out for you?)Please don't get the impression that this is a book filled with facts and figures. The author illustrates the issues by concentrating heavily on characters she meets in the oil fields. Middle-class people working in the area. She explores the effects of working the industry has on these people, their families, and their friends. She covers a 50-ish woman working the area, an alcoholic drifter, a young family man and his family, and a priest, amongst others.If I had one issue with the book, it is that I wish Briody would have covered a larger segment of people in the area. Perhaps some people actually involved in the oil industry (above the common working people). Maybe some more of the people who were from the area prior to the boom, and their feelings and experiences. Some of the state representatives, and explored their opinions. I think the book would have been much better if the author had explored a wider range of characters.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    A really fascinating look at the stories behind the folks who moved to Williston, North Dakota, during the big boom and how they survived in a town that wasn't ready for the population explosion. Having been to Williston -- a college roommate and good friend of mine grew up in Sidney, Montana, and Williston was at the time "the biggest town around" and hardly a blip on the map -- it was hard to wrap my mind around what a place that literally only had an Applebee's and a WalMart would be like jus A really fascinating look at the stories behind the folks who moved to Williston, North Dakota, during the big boom and how they survived in a town that wasn't ready for the population explosion. Having been to Williston -- a college roommate and good friend of mine grew up in Sidney, Montana, and Williston was at the time "the biggest town around" and hardly a blip on the map -- it was hard to wrap my mind around what a place that literally only had an Applebee's and a WalMart would be like just a couple years later. This does a great job of laying it out. Briody's writing is good, though I wish she'd dug a little deeper. She started to, especially in her explorations of Native lands and the US Government's lack of caring about them, but she could have done more. She tries to stay out of the story as much as possible, so that's part of it, but when she does insert, it's definitely from the place of dumb middle class girl from Brooklyn perspective (which was super annoying -- it could have been cut without losing anything). I hope Broidy revisits Williston in 5 years or so and writes more about it. This ends without much closure, simply because of the when of the book's writing. What happens as Trump fails to live up to the promises he made to the oil companies and workers? What happens as Standing Rock is forced to deal with what their neighbors to the north dealt with related to oil and having their rights impeded? This book is an awesome launch point and I hope she keeps going with this story. Like Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, this book focuses in on the stories of locals. Like NOMADLAND, it's a culture within America we don't see or talk about enough. Like NOMADLAND, there's a lot here about housing and homelessness and getting by to make ends meet. Unlike NOMADLAND, this one has far fewer stories about people who wanted this lifestyle or convinced themselves they did along the way; this one feels much heavier and desperate. But damn, they're two books worth reading in tandem.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David

    I read Janesville: An American Story, Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, and this book *somewhat* one after the other, and I realized halfway through The New Wild West that they could easily be sold as a trilogy on personal stories from dark side of the modern American economy. More specifically, Janesville reports from what's left behind in a town that lost its source of blue-collar security; Nomadland uncovers what happens when illusory freedom of being the road, where p I read Janesville: An American Story, Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, and this book *somewhat* one after the other, and I realized halfway through The New Wild West that they could easily be sold as a trilogy on personal stories from dark side of the modern American economy. More specifically, Janesville reports from what's left behind in a town that lost its source of blue-collar security; Nomadland uncovers what happens when illusory freedom of being the road, where people who thought that by opting out of living in one place they could untether themselves from their financial past, is uncovered to put someone closer to the edge than they might think; and, finally The New Wild West: Black Gold, Fracking, and Life in a North Dakota Boomtown, which discovers an almost Anti-Janesville: a nothing town suddenly overwhelmed by people (many of whom could have easily walked right out from the pages of the other two books) trying to hitch their fortunes to the latest and most lucrative boom, environment be damned. The picture is consistent and not pretty: people reduced to homelessness or bankruptcy by divorce, substance abuse, impossible health care bills, and lack of retirement savings; the government trying but failing to help (at its best, in Janesville) and showing disinterest and outright hostility to workers (at its worst, in North Dakota) permeate these three stories. And that's not even mentioning GM, Amazon, or the oil companies, which provide a torrent of actions of that should horrify and embarrass (if that's even possible anymore). The people in these books do not ask anyone to feel sorry for them, but it's hard not to. They take what opportunities are available, even if it's a step backward. There are missed births and birthdays, hundreds of hours of driving back and forth from remote jobsites, and enough unrepentant and unethical capitalists to fill a GOP fundraiser after-party. Despite their honest moments, they maintain an optimism that is hard to fathom given their circumstances and the lack of help afforded them. These stories certainly made me more aware and appreciative of the stability in my life. All of which begs the question: why is it acceptable in America for people to live like this? To be stocking shelves in your 70s because you can't afford the rent? To make health care so unattainable that a sudden health issue can completely ruin somebody financially? To desecrate the environment for profit? People living in their cars because they can't make the rent? A company developing an entire INDUSTRY around employing people who live in cars? I thought back a lot to the 2017 Congress, under the individual who supposedly was elected because these types of people wanted a voice, whose main priorities appeared to be giving people the "freedom" to not have health insurance (ask the people in this book what happens when you don't have coverage) and putting enormous tax breaks on the national credit card to enrich those who need it the least. Reminds me of something from Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow - the powerful aren't powerful because there's more of them, they're powerful because they are better organized.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads Giveaways. This book broke my heart in a lot of ways. It's not so much the story of the boom as it is the story of the people drawn to this current boom, and through them you can see the spirit that has brought so many others to all the booms before this. It lays bare the greed that pushes American capitalism, and the hope that pushes its workers, often leading them to be complicit in their own downfall. We care so little for the resources we ha I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads Giveaways. This book broke my heart in a lot of ways. It's not so much the story of the boom as it is the story of the people drawn to this current boom, and through them you can see the spirit that has brought so many others to all the booms before this. It lays bare the greed that pushes American capitalism, and the hope that pushes its workers, often leading them to be complicit in their own downfall. We care so little for the resources we have, and so much for the money we can make, never realizing that we'll never buy happiness no matter what the corporations tell you. Yes, I learned a lot about fracking as a process and life in an oil-boom town; but I think I learned more about the human condition, whether Briody intended that or not.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    The New Wild West by Blaire Briody is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late September. In the summer of 2015, Williston, North Dakota was a stop-off during a road trip to Yellowstone and I wasn't yet able to put a name to the tension, occluded fear, and economic disrepair that I felt while I was there. Somewhat fortunately, Briody had already spent a lot of time with both the residents and oil-field employees during the boomtown days of Williston's population increase of 200% in 2013, then i The New Wild West by Blaire Briody is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late September. In the summer of 2015, Williston, North Dakota was a stop-off during a road trip to Yellowstone and I wasn't yet able to put a name to the tension, occluded fear, and economic disrepair that I felt while I was there. Somewhat fortunately, Briody had already spent a lot of time with both the residents and oil-field employees during the boomtown days of Williston's population increase of 200% in 2013, then its near-exodus after oil prices dropped in 2014. I especially adored the input of the most-epic and-awesome Cindy Marcello and the resilient bloggeress supermum Chelsea Niehaus.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    More of a snapshot of a year or two of peak boom time... enough info about area's history and how fracking works to frame it, but mostly follows a few people's experiences during their time working the Bakkan shale. More of a snapshot of a year or two of peak boom time... enough info about area's history and how fracking works to frame it, but mostly follows a few people's experiences during their time working the Bakkan shale.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris Jaffe

    Author Blaire Briody is a journalist and junior college professor in California who was interested in learning about life in America's latest boom town: Williston, North Dakota, heart of fracking country. It resides on the Bakken Formation of shale-based oil in the western part of the state. Briody moved out there for a stretch and made several returns afterwards to see how things were progressing. You get a sense of a small town undergoing massive change. Williston has had a few oil booms in the Author Blaire Briody is a journalist and junior college professor in California who was interested in learning about life in America's latest boom town: Williston, North Dakota, heart of fracking country. It resides on the Bakken Formation of shale-based oil in the western part of the state. Briody moved out there for a stretch and made several returns afterwards to see how things were progressing. You get a sense of a small town undergoing massive change. Williston has had a few oil booms in the past, but nothing at all like this. Some have gotten rich off of it, but it's oddly done, as North Dakota is one state where land rights and mineral rights don't always go together. So some longtime farmers get nothing and others get enormous windfalls. Really, though, the actual longtime residents barely show up in this book. Most of the people Briody establishes contacts with are recent transplants. This makes sense as they outnumber the longtimers, and they are there for the oil (which is the heart of the book) but makes the book a bit disjointed. Even the longtimers Briody contacts aren't necessarily typical ones. She notes that there is very little activism against the fracking book and it's environmental results - but two of her three contacts are people that oppose it. (One is a local farmer, the other an Indian from a nearby reservation). Her other local contact is a preacher who allows homeless to spend the night in his church, to the discomfort of many of his parishioners. I'd like to get a sense of Williston from a longtimer who was more, well, more typical of the town. Her main contacts are with transplants: an older alcoholic man who rarely has a fixed home, an older woman who is one of the very very very few women working the oil fields, and the wife of an oil rig worker. These people form the backbone of the book and the chapters focusing on them are more frequent and longer than the ones on longtimers. As the book goes on, especially in the back half, it often seems less like a story of an oil boom town and more the story of a half-dozen people. You do get a sense of a community overwhelmed with all the new arrivals. The new arrivals themselves are generally people coming out of desperation. They come because they hear there are jobs at high pay and long hours available. You can earn far more there anywhere else. But you'd only come if you are desperate. The job is long and hard. The hours are horrible (some people work over 120 hours in a week at the boom's peak). The job is dangerous, too. The atmosphere is horrible. I don't just mean pollution - though that's part of it. You're also stuck in North Dakota, where the temperature can hit -40 F in the winters. And the social atmosphere - there is crime, lots of drugs and drunkeness. You have a huge gender imbalance. And often no housing. Briody lives in a trailer at a trailer compound - one of several in town. Apartment rents are through the roof. The city cracks down on people overnighting at the Wal-Mart and other parking lots. And keep in mind: you often go there looking for work, not because you have a job. So you get homelessness, horrible weather, pollution, a nasty social environment - all with the hope of landing something. The place comes off especially bad for women, due to the testosterone-laden environment and the other problems. The wife of the worker goes back to Kentucky with her son eventually. Some of the worst stories are from the older woman who works on the field. She has to deal with an enormous amount of shit on her job. It's an interesting book. The main problem is one noted above: as the book goes on, it starts to read like the story of 4-5 people rather than else beyond them.

  10. 5 out of 5

    John Benson

    Living across the border from North Dakota in Minnesota, technically only about 5 blocks away, I am very aware of North Dakota issues. I visited the Bakken Area when the Oil Boom was in full swing and later as it waned. Blaire Brody takes readers through this same time period through the lives of six people who were very impacted by the North Dakota Oil Boom. Several of the people are long term residents of the area, one is a female oil worker, another is the wife of one, another is a man who st Living across the border from North Dakota in Minnesota, technically only about 5 blocks away, I am very aware of North Dakota issues. I visited the Bakken Area when the Oil Boom was in full swing and later as it waned. Blaire Brody takes readers through this same time period through the lives of six people who were very impacted by the North Dakota Oil Boom. Several of the people are long term residents of the area, one is a female oil worker, another is the wife of one, another is a man who struggles to find work there, and finally, one is a Lutheran pastor, who even had a movie made about him, "The Overnighters". Like North Dakota winters, their stories are fairly bleak as they try to make money, often living in unheated trailers, and watch as their lives fall apart. The author brings out their lives honestly and with empathy. A very sad book but it brings out the realities of these times out fully through the lives of these people.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    I thought this book was going to be focused on the ways in which Williston, ND changed during the oil boom of about 10 years ago. My parents both grew up in North Dakota, and, while I never lived there, I spent a couple weeks of every summer in that state, so I was curious as to the way in which the oil boom impacted the state, both good and bad. But this book didn't talk too much about how the cities were impacted. While it touched a bit on the changes to the town, the book focused more on the I thought this book was going to be focused on the ways in which Williston, ND changed during the oil boom of about 10 years ago. My parents both grew up in North Dakota, and, while I never lived there, I spent a couple weeks of every summer in that state, so I was curious as to the way in which the oil boom impacted the state, both good and bad. But this book didn't talk too much about how the cities were impacted. While it touched a bit on the changes to the town, the book focused more on the people who came to work for the oil companies and the drama surrounding their lives. The stories were interesting, but it also felt a little bit like reality TV where the entertainment value stems largely from the shocking mess of some people's lives, and that really wasn't what I was after. So, after waiting several months to get my hands on this book, I'm sad to say it was a bit of a disappointment.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joe Keefhaver

    This is an interesting book about the economic, sociological and environmental issues besetting the North Dakota city of Williston when it became an oil boomtown. Longtime residents are forced to leave when they are priced out of the housing market. The newcomers, some of whom are making six-figure incomes, are living a lifestyle similar to the homeless because of the lack of housing. And damage to the environment as the result of fracking is a real concern. The author focuses on the lives of se This is an interesting book about the economic, sociological and environmental issues besetting the North Dakota city of Williston when it became an oil boomtown. Longtime residents are forced to leave when they are priced out of the housing market. The newcomers, some of whom are making six-figure incomes, are living a lifestyle similar to the homeless because of the lack of housing. And damage to the environment as the result of fracking is a real concern. The author focuses on the lives of several individuals drawn to Williston by the oil boom, as well as a local farmer and preacher. None of the newcomers really saw their dreams fulfilled by the oil boom, and the farmer and the preacher also saw their lives damaged by forces set loose by the changes in their community. The author does an excellent job of explaining the mechanics of fracking and the lifestyles of the oil workers.

  13. 5 out of 5

    WAHS Library

    Oil companies have descended upon Williston, North Dakota in recent years with promises of jobs and wealth. Fracking technology opened previously unavailable supplies of petroleum and natural gas. The resulting economic boom attracted men, and a few women, from all over the country looking for high paying jobs. But the prosperity has come at a cost, with violence and sexual assault skyrocketing, schools overflowing, housing prices soaring, and homelessness rampant. Farmers have seen their land o Oil companies have descended upon Williston, North Dakota in recent years with promises of jobs and wealth. Fracking technology opened previously unavailable supplies of petroleum and natural gas. The resulting economic boom attracted men, and a few women, from all over the country looking for high paying jobs. But the prosperity has come at a cost, with violence and sexual assault skyrocketing, schools overflowing, housing prices soaring, and homelessness rampant. Farmers have seen their land overrun with drilling equipment and chemical/oil spills are common. This book follows events in the lives of several individuals and families as they try to navigate this largely unregulated incursion by big energy companies. -Mr Fraser

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Started out really well and was very interesting. Became increasingly more boring as it went on and followed a few people who were pretty unspectacular and not necessarily all that interesting. I would have like to learn more about fracking and how the workers lived then follow these particular people and their stories. I was also hoping to hear more about the town itself and the effects the frackers had on it while they were there. Again, it started off strong but lost steam about half way thro Started out really well and was very interesting. Became increasingly more boring as it went on and followed a few people who were pretty unspectacular and not necessarily all that interesting. I would have like to learn more about fracking and how the workers lived then follow these particular people and their stories. I was also hoping to hear more about the town itself and the effects the frackers had on it while they were there. Again, it started off strong but lost steam about half way through. Also, shame on Brilliance for casting who they did as the narrator for the audiobook version of this. Really poor narration.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David Goodrich

    This is a remarkable look at a boomtown and an industry that has overturned global energy markets, namely the Bakken fracking boom in North Dakota. But rather than look at it from a macroeconomic perspective, the author, at some personal risk, journeyed to Williston, the center of the Bakken, to talk with the people involved in the boom. She paints a picture person by person with some memorable characters. One is a woman who shows what it takes to make a career in the oil patch, and it's anythin This is a remarkable look at a boomtown and an industry that has overturned global energy markets, namely the Bakken fracking boom in North Dakota. But rather than look at it from a macroeconomic perspective, the author, at some personal risk, journeyed to Williston, the center of the Bakken, to talk with the people involved in the boom. She paints a picture person by person with some memorable characters. One is a woman who shows what it takes to make a career in the oil patch, and it's anything but easy. One thinks of a modern version of Sutters Mill and the Klondike. Then as now, the people doing the digging end up on the short end. An engaging, thoughtful read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Lowe

    This is a well written book and provide an eye opener for me about what is happening even today in Williston. My ex is an active alcoholic and it caused the end of our relationship. I wanted to know why, when he said he wanted help to stay sober, he did a 180 on me. Now I know. Everybody up there drinks and he hates to be left out. Never date an oil and gas guy, lesson learned. I'm glad she wrote this book, it really needs to be talked about. This is a bad deal up there. Yes, we need oil, and no This is a well written book and provide an eye opener for me about what is happening even today in Williston. My ex is an active alcoholic and it caused the end of our relationship. I wanted to know why, when he said he wanted help to stay sober, he did a 180 on me. Now I know. Everybody up there drinks and he hates to be left out. Never date an oil and gas guy, lesson learned. I'm glad she wrote this book, it really needs to be talked about. This is a bad deal up there. Yes, we need oil, and no, I'm not giving up my car either, but what it costs people in their relationships and ultimately their lives is a high price to pay, no matter how much money they make.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ann Pisarello

    This is the story of Williston, North Dakota, a town that changed dramatically because of oil fracking. In a few years it changed from a dot on the map, to a bustling oil town. Workers came from all over the country in search of jobs that promised huge salaries for those willing to work hard, No experience necessary. But the toll on the town's infrastructure, property values and farmers was very heavy. The author follows the lives of several people who came to seek their fortune, and it is inter This is the story of Williston, North Dakota, a town that changed dramatically because of oil fracking. In a few years it changed from a dot on the map, to a bustling oil town. Workers came from all over the country in search of jobs that promised huge salaries for those willing to work hard, No experience necessary. But the toll on the town's infrastructure, property values and farmers was very heavy. The author follows the lives of several people who came to seek their fortune, and it is interesting to see what happened to the real people who were involved in chasing the dream.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Kahn

    Great book about the people living in a once-a-small-town-now-industrial-power town. Author picked a few peoples' stories to highlight, and I became invested in everybody's lives (including the Pastors whom I initially felt on opposite sides of the aisle with). Also about: environment, energy (a bit), politics, but mostly---people.. I was honestly surprised by how well this book was researched and written, because I didn't hear much buzz about it. I picked it up randomly from the non-fiction sec Great book about the people living in a once-a-small-town-now-industrial-power town. Author picked a few peoples' stories to highlight, and I became invested in everybody's lives (including the Pastors whom I initially felt on opposite sides of the aisle with). Also about: environment, energy (a bit), politics, but mostly---people.. I was honestly surprised by how well this book was researched and written, because I didn't hear much buzz about it. I picked it up randomly from the non-fiction section in local lib branch. Highly recommend.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Jackson

    I went into this book not knowing anything about the oil industry in North Dakota or in any other place. What I found when I opened the pages of this book was an intimate view of the diverse types of people affected by the boom that hit North Dakota. I enjoyed the multiple experiences highlighted in this text and I found myself compelled to keep reaching for the book. The book delved a little bit into government policy surrounding oil fracking, but I would definitely be interested in a follow-up I went into this book not knowing anything about the oil industry in North Dakota or in any other place. What I found when I opened the pages of this book was an intimate view of the diverse types of people affected by the boom that hit North Dakota. I enjoyed the multiple experiences highlighted in this text and I found myself compelled to keep reaching for the book. The book delved a little bit into government policy surrounding oil fracking, but I would definitely be interested in a follow-up with details of the current state of fracking laws.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Paulette Ponte

    I read this book for my book club. I was amazed to read about the difficulties of living in a place like North Dakota in a mining town. Some people make a lot of money but most don't and the mining town ends up being a town full of trailer parks, homeless men and women who are treated horribly. The writing was excellent and I especially liked reading the individual stories of some of the people who migrated to Williston, North Dakota to look for jobs in the mining and fracking industry. I read this book for my book club. I was amazed to read about the difficulties of living in a place like North Dakota in a mining town. Some people make a lot of money but most don't and the mining town ends up being a town full of trailer parks, homeless men and women who are treated horribly. The writing was excellent and I especially liked reading the individual stories of some of the people who migrated to Williston, North Dakota to look for jobs in the mining and fracking industry.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Glenn

    Living in ND for most of the boom and having studied how community members feel about the boom, I found this book interesting as it provides the perspective of those who came because of what the boom offered. It also looks at some of the troubling aspects of what the boom has done and continues to do in ND. Not much though is made of any positives that have come from it. The book adds to my understanding of how the boom is/was perceived.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This is a fantastic piece of reporting about the North Dakota oil boom in the early 2010's. Blaire Briody interviews several people in and around the town of Williston, ND including a local Farmer, pastor, homeless man, oilfield workers, and families of oilfield workers. It's a nuanced and beautifully human account that taught me a lot about the politics, economics, and science of early 2010's domestic drilling. This is a fantastic piece of reporting about the North Dakota oil boom in the early 2010's. Blaire Briody interviews several people in and around the town of Williston, ND including a local Farmer, pastor, homeless man, oilfield workers, and families of oilfield workers. It's a nuanced and beautifully human account that taught me a lot about the politics, economics, and science of early 2010's domestic drilling.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Susie

    I really enjoyed this book which was very interesting and sheds light on this important issue for our country. The author interwove local characters' stories & made us care about them, while making the town of Williston one of the characters as well. It explains fracking & complex issues in ways the average person can understand plus includes humor & her personal experiences there. I really enjoyed this book which was very interesting and sheds light on this important issue for our country. The author interwove local characters' stories & made us care about them, while making the town of Williston one of the characters as well. It explains fracking & complex issues in ways the average person can understand plus includes humor & her personal experiences there.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Cox

    Such an interesting perspective, to follow the lives of several very diverse people and their perceptions and experiences during the 2010-2014 Fracking Boom in North Dakota. Surprisingly little was written about this in the news, so it was both sad and shocking to learn of what happened in this beatutiful and rugged northern state.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Love this book! I previously had a hazy understanding of fracking in North Dakota, but Briody does a fantastic job of not only explaining the process, but also humanizing the residents of Williston. I flew through this book, it was a pleasant read as Briody's writing was so engaging. Love this book! I previously had a hazy understanding of fracking in North Dakota, but Briody does a fantastic job of not only explaining the process, but also humanizing the residents of Williston. I flew through this book, it was a pleasant read as Briody's writing was so engaging.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Liam

    "The average wage in Williston rose to about $80,000 a year, up from $32,000 in 2006. By 2012, more than half of Williston's residents worked in oil-related jobs. The number of taxpayers reporting a $1 million-plus income in North Dakota went from 261 in 2005 to 1,265 in 2012." (38) "The average wage in Williston rose to about $80,000 a year, up from $32,000 in 2006. By 2012, more than half of Williston's residents worked in oil-related jobs. The number of taxpayers reporting a $1 million-plus income in North Dakota went from 261 in 2005 to 1,265 in 2012." (38)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carmaine

    Williston was a simple town filled with middle class, hard working families. The New Wild West’s version identified what happened to this community when the oil industry controlled with little regulation or oversight.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Wickenhagen

    I enjoy the historical storytelling in this remarkably talented book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura Petersen

    Current book. Good book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tom Hart

    An excellent book about the devastation caused by our addiction to oil.

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