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Blaire Briody's "The New Wild West" Investigates Rural North Dakota Amid The Oil Boom


The descriptive phrase, “The Wild West,” brings to mind images of gunslingers, dusty miners and pioneering families eager to forge a fresh start in an inhospitable place. But in a new book, journalist Blaire Briody takes us on a tour of America’s contemporary Wild West: the badlands of North Dakota, under which reside an estimated 4.3 billion gallons of recoverable oil, making it the largest oil reserve in the lower 48 states.

Ms. Briody’s book, titled The New Wild West, presents an even-handed look at the oil drilling and fracking process, and introduces a cast of colorful characters who have been affected, in ways both positive and negative, by the recent oil boom in North Dakota.  To research her story, Ms. Briody embedded herself in the town of Williston, North Dakota, about 60 miles south of the Canadian border, a place she describes as “the epicenter of the one of the largest oil booms the United States has ever experienced.”

Blaire Briody has written for The New York Times, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Fast Company and Glamour. The New Wild West was a 2016 finalist for the Lukas Work-in-Progress Award from Columbia Journalism School and Harvard’s Nieman Foundation. Ms. Briody received the Richard J. Margolis Award for social justice journalism in 2014, and she graduated from the University of California, Davis with a degree in international relations. She teaches journalism at Santa Rosa Junior College in California.