Saturday, May 31, 2008
An explosive story ignored
Alas, Poor Country takes as its subject a fascinating but overlooked period of U.S. history: the "uranium boom" that swept the Colorado Plateau from the late 1940s to early 1960s.
Like the great Gold Rush of the previous century, the uranium frenzy captivated the national imagination, inspiring many thousands to converge on the Four Corners region of the American Southwest in hopes of finding their fortune.
In the end, a mere few achieved the wealth they sought, while most found nothing but hardship. And like the Gold Rush, it is a quintessential American story, and one marked by ambition, avarice and, ultimately, the folly wrought by both.
Alas, Poor Country explores this important historical moment through the eyes of five characters as each attempts to navigate both the harsh, unforgiving landscape around Moab, Utah, and the climate of greed and self-interest ushered in by the boom.
The lives of the characters intersect, diverge and intersect again as the town is stunned by the grisly murder of a millionaire miner. By the book’s close, all five are irrevocably changed by the land, by uranium and by their pursuit of a dream.