Beneath the windswept North Dakota plains, riches await...
At first, Erika Bolstad knew only one thing about her great-grandmother, Anna: she was a homesteader on the North Dakota prairies in the early 1900s before her husband committed her to an asylum under mysterious circumstances. As Erika's mother was dying, she revealed more. Their family still owned the mineral rights to Anna's land—and oil companies were interested in the black gold beneath the prairies. Their family, Erika learned, could get rich thanks to the legacy of a woman nearly lost to history.
Anna left no letters or journals, and very few photographs of her had survived. But Erika was drawn to the young woman who never walked free of the asylum that imprisoned her. As a journalist well versed in the effects of fossil fuels on climate change, Erika felt the dissonance of what she knew and the barely-acknowledged whisper that had followed her family across the Great Plains for generations: we could be rich. Desperate to learn more about her great-grandmother and the oil industry that changed the face of the American West forever, Erika set out for North Dakota to unearth what she could of the past. What she discovers is a land of boom-and-bust cycles and families trying their best to eke out a living in an unforgiving landscape, bringing to life the ever-present American question: What does it mean to be rich?
About the Author
Erika Bolstad is a journalist and documentary filmmaker in Portland, Oregon. Her worked has appeared in the Washington Post, Scientific American, and many other publications.
"A vital exploration of the long history of abuse against women, the land, and the weight of inheritance, told in gripping prose. Bolstad's Windfall comes at a crucial time when our country is at a reckoning with its own dark history of conquest and extraction." — Taylor Brorby, author of Boys and Oil: Growing Up Gay in a Fractured Land
"The author effectively examines the political, economic, and environmental issues involved in the production of energy across the country… An engrossing look at the effects of the American oil and gas industry through the lens of family history." — Kirkus Reviews
"With Windfall, Erika Bolstad offers a keen awareness of a common bind: our deep desire to protect the last natural resources while sustaining our precarious domestic lives. With meticulously researched and clear, ringing prose, she takes us on a journey of consternation, curiosity, and, finally, reconciliation with her family’s past and her own tender future." — Debra Gwartney, author of I Am a Stranger Here Myself
"[Windfall] is filled with expertly researched details... This book will appeal to readers who enjoy detailed political history books." — Library Journal
"Shockingly personal and brilliantly researched... Windfall is highly recommended." — Booklist Starred Review
"In this powerful debut... [Bolstad] lucidly explains the impact of oil and gas extraction on the communities that depend on it economically. In unraveling a family mystery, Bolstad tells a much larger, richer story." — Publishers Weekly
"Windfall is a timely, insightful and important read."— BookPage
"Bolstad weaves a two sided thread through the pages: an exploration of a sometimes nefarious 'boom and bust' oil industry and a long-buried family history—a story that’s been in her blood for generations." — Reader's Digest