Over the last decade, North Dakota has come into its own as an oil producing power. Many people think of this meteoric rise to the top of the domestic oil production charts as having resulted from fracking technology. North Dakota, however, has been an oil producer for more than 60 years, and the booms and busts are deeply inscribed on North Dakota politics, economics, culture, and landscape.
A new book from The Digital Press at UND, Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958-2018, traces these inscriptions across the recent history of the state. The book was edited by Kyle Conway, a scholar of the 21st century Bakken boom. Conway is a UND graduate and former member of the UND faculty who’s now an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa.
Sixty Years of Boom and Bust combines chapters from the Williston Report, originally published in 1958, with contemporary scholarship on the policies, economy, material culture, politics and social changes in the state. The Williston Report was a study of the first oil boom in North Dakota; it was prepared by UND faculty and published by the University of North Dakota Press.
Sixty Years of Boom and Bust both republishes the Williston Report and brings it up to date.
Conway describes this unique approach to boom and bust as “in some ways confirming, in some ways challenging the old adage about ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.’”
And he hopes that the book will show that “policymakers and scholars need to listen to an even wider range of people when trying to understand North Dakota’s oil booms.”
Brad Rundquist, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UND and one of the book’s contributors, noted that “one my primary goals as dean is to encourage and support research by College faculty and students focused on the State of North Dakota. I am proud to have been a co-author of a chapter in the book, and pleased that the book’s editor is an alumnus of UND.”
This is not the first book on the Bakken edited by Conway. Sixty Years of Boom and Bust in some ways stands as a companion volume to Conway’s landmark 2016 volume, The Bakken Goes Boom: Oil and the Changing Geographies of Western North Dakota. Both volumes are available as free, open access digital downloads and as low-cost paperbacks and are published by The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.
A third volume fills out another slot on the developing Bakken Bookshelf, The Bakken: An Archaeology of the Industrial Landscape. It was published by North Dakota State University press in 2017 and was written by UND faculty members Bret Weber and William Caraher, both of whom also have contributed to Sixty Years of Boom and Bust.
Sixty Years of Boom and Bust is the 20th book published by the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. It helps establish the Digital Press as the flagship open access publisher in North Dakota and in the Northern Plains.
Director Bill Caraher observes, “It’s particularly gratifying that the 20th book from the Digital Press is edited by Kyle Conway, who has been with the press from its founding in 2014. It is also exciting to republish a significant work from the long-dormant University of North Dakota Press and to carry on the tradition of high quality publishing at the UND.
“The Digital Press has benefited from the unwavering support of the University of North Dakota and the College of Arts and Sciences and our shared commitment to the idea that major universities have university presses,” Caraher added.
Sixty Years of Boom and Bust can be downloaded for free at the website of the Digital Press.
The Bakken Goes Boom: Oil and the Changing Geographies of Western North Dakota also can be downloaded for free from The Digital Press.