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Unreal City : Las Vegas, Black Mesa, and the Fate of the West
by Judith Nies


Overview - An epic struggle over land, water, and power is erupting in the American West and the halls of Washington, DC. It began when a 4,000-square-mile area of Arizona desert called Black Mesa was divided between the Hopi and Navajo tribes. To the outside world, it was a land struggle between two fractious Indian tribes; to political insiders and energy corporations, it was a divide-and-conquer play for the 21 billion tons of coal beneath Black Mesa.  Read more...

 
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More About Unreal City by Judith Nies
 
 
 
Overview
An epic struggle over land, water, and power is erupting in the American West and the halls of Washington, DC. It began when a 4,000-square-mile area of Arizona desert called Black Mesa was divided between the Hopi and Navajo tribes. To the outside world, it was a land struggle between two fractious Indian tribes; to political insiders and energy corporations, it was a divide-and-conquer play for the 21 billion tons of coal beneath Black Mesa. Today, that coal powers cheap electricity for Los Angeles, a new water aqueduct into Phoenix, and the neon dazzle of Las Vegas.

Journalist and historian Judith Nies has been tracking this story for nearly four decades. She follows the money and tells us the true story of wealth and water, mendacity, and corruption at the highest levels of business and government. Amid the backdrop of the breathtaking desert landscape, Unreal City shows five cultures colliding--Hopi, Navajo, global energy corporations, Mormons, and US government agencies--resulting in a battle over resources and the future of the West.

Las Vegas may attract 39 million visitors a year, but the tourists mesmerized by the dancing water fountains at the Bellagio don't ask where the water comes from. They don't see a city with the nation's highest rates of foreclosure, unemployment, and suicide. They don't see the astonishing drop in the water level of Lake Mead--where Sin City gets 90 percent of its water supply.

Nies shows how the struggle over Black Mesa lands is an example of a global phenomenon in which giant transnational corporations have the power to separate indigenous people from their energy-rich lands with the help of host governments. Unreal City explores how and why resources have been taken from native lands, what it means in an era of climate change, and why, in this city divorced from nature, the only thing more powerful than money is water.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781568587486
  • ISBN-10: 1568587481
  • Publisher: Nation Books
  • Publish Date: April 2014
  • Page Count: 292
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds


Related Categories

Books > History > United States - State & Local - West
Books > History > United States - 20th Century
Books > History > Native American

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-03-24
  • Reviewer: Staff

In this well-researched book, Nies (The Girl I Left Behind: A Narrative History of the Sixties) presents a history of the social, political, and cultural conflicts over land, water, and energy that enabled the "Sunbelt Boom" and made the West what it is—a region dependent on coal and disappearing water sources , unwilling to discuss conservation "because it discourage growth." Nies centers her book on the creation of Las Vegas and presents an expansive history of the area, from indigenous Navajo and Hopi tribes to Mormon settlement and 20th century corporate dealings and federal interventions. The story that appears is one of "legal theft" of land and rights from the indigenous populations of Black Mesa in northern Arizona to supply power to Las Vegas and other desert cities. The book addresses all the major players and stakeholders, showing how the history and present state of the West are inextricable from Wall Street and Washington. This portrayal contrasts sharply with the popular and politicized vision of the West as individualistic and self-reliant. The presentation is dense and at times difficult to untangle. But in this regard, the reading experience very much reflects the muddled history and complex reality of the current resource struggles in the American West. Agent: Don Fehr, Trident Media Group. (Apr.)

 
BAM Customer Reviews