Boom Town

This book has two sides and two parallel narratives:

  • one broad narrative of the founding, settlement, and growth of Oklahoma City
  • one relatively narrow narrative of the OKC Thunder and their few years as the darling of the NBA

I learned of this book because of the latter — the author is a (was a?) sportswriter for ESPN who did a podcast circuit including an appearance on my beloved Lowe Post.

Where I expected this to be a fairly light airport-tier read (some fun basketball insights interspersed with trivia about this town of which I know extremely little), it ended up being quite a bit more than that. I was, if anything, a little disappointed by the basketball side of things — I knew most of the drama surrounded the Harden trade and the subsequent playoff runs, and KD and Westbrook are still such dominant figures in the basketball landscape the relief portraits that Anderson makes of them are fairly banal. But the collage he portrays of the town and the connection he tries to draw between the boom/bust cycle of Oklahoma and its ne'er-do-well basketball team was incredibly well done, with strong prose and embedded researching.

I felt like I learned a good amount from this book, even if some of it felt like it was straining too hard to connect to a gestalt that wasn't quite there. In particular, Anderson espouses a quasi-[[The Power Broker]] thesis with his description of the Chamber of Commerce (all soft power, no democracy) as the true engine of OKC's growth.

10/27/2022

Highlights

During WWI, black soldiers boarding trains to leave Oklahoma City held banners that read, DO NOT LYNCH OUR RELATIVES WHILE WE ARE GONE.
What was glory but a constellation of individual glories?
Even the rescue dogs showed signs of distress and depression.
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