With an account equal parts dark, surreal, and humorous, journalist Maya Rao brings us a fraught firsthand chronicle of the breakneck capitalist microcosm contained in the modern-day gold rush of North Dakota’s oil fields. Rao takes Town Hall’s stage to share accounts from her book Great American Outpost: Dreamers, Mavericks, and the Making of an Oil Frontier, detailing her interactions with drifters, fortune-seekers, and unlucky entrepreneurs who embodied the region’s culture of reckless greed. Sit in with Rao for a sobering look at the faltering landscape of an oil frontier boom town—and the unlikely pioneers who flocked to the region to reckon their legacy.
Maya Rao is a staff writer in the Washington D.C. bureau of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Awl, Philadelphia Inquirer, Longreads, and more.
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