Author of book on North Dakota oil boom to speak Nov. 8

Investigative journalist spent time in oil fields for ‘Great American Outpost’
​Jerry Poling | October 31, 2018

The author of a new book about the oil boom in North Dakota will speak at University of Wisconsin-Stout.

Maya Rao is scheduled to talk at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, in room 112 of Jarvis Hall Science Wing. A question-and-answer session will follow her presentation.

The event is free and open to the public. Parking in UW-Stout lots is free after 4 p.m.

Maya RaoRao wrote “Great American Outpost: Dreamers, Mavericks and the Making of an Oil Frontier,” which was published in April by Public Affairs.

A reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune based in Washington, D.C., Rao spent extended periods of time in Bakken Shale Formation oil fields. She worked as a cashier at a truck stop while doing research and interviewed people from all aspects of the industry.

The Star Tribune called Rao’s book a “frightening yet objective account of America’s modern-day equivalent of the Gold Rush” that “drags readers into the nasty business of oil extraction, fracking style.”

Tom Pearson, associate professor of social science at UW-Stout, called the book “well-researched and beautifully written. Rao provides useful insight into the human dimensions of the oil fields without romanticizing the Bakken, as is so often done, and without dismissing its significance for North Dakota and for places like western Wisconsin, where the oil boom reverberated through the region in the form of frac sand mining.

“The book provides a readable yet nuanced account of a fracking-driven resource boom and bust, telling the stories of dozens of extraordinary individuals through the eyes of a thoughtful investigative journalist who lived in the oil fields for many months,” Pearson said.

Pearson also has done research on the topic, focusing on the impacts in western Wisconsin. His book, “When the Hills are Gone: Frac Sand Mining and the Struggle for Community,” was published in 2017 by the University of Minnesota Press.

Rao’s talk is sponsored by UW-Stout’s Honors College, Center for Applied Ethics, social science department, English and philosophy department and the College of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences.



Maya Rao

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