Fractured Land: The Price of Inheriting Oil
Reviews, News, and Interviews
I now own North Dakota mineral rights.
Read about the man I inherited them from in
my New York Times essay.
The 2015 selection for One Book, One Community
in Fargo, West Fargo, and Moorhead
Read “Minnesota author reflects on environmentalism and oil lineage in North Dakota,” by Andrew Wernette in The Dickinson (N.D.) Press
Fractured Land recounts an environmentalist’s journey into the heart of the oil boom, North Dakota, and her family’s oil-soaked history. It is filled with sharply observed ironies and surprising insights. This is a gutsy book.
—Russell Gold, energy reporter for the Wall Street Journal and author of The Boom.
Most of us have them, those conflicted feelings stemming from the knowledge that many of our creature comforts — our cars, our warm homes, our ability to jump on a plane and be in Mexico by dinnertime — are tied directly to our reliance on oil, which we know to be wrecking our environment with startling haste. It’s the moral dilemma of our age . . . It’s a great feat of storytelling she’s accomplished here, one that manages to be incredibly timely and timeless at once.
—(Minneapolis) Star Tribune
When I started investigating my family’s history, I discovered all kinds of calamities . . . so when my grandfather finally did succeed in signing his first oil lease, it makes you realize: I’m part of this family that has suffered so much. And now they’ve accomplished this success of sorts on the Great Plains, and that makes it even harder. For me, it makes the whole story more human.
–excerpt from Minnesota Public Radio Daily Circuit interview with Tom Weber, September 29, 2014
And just a few reviews from my beloved readers:
What a remarkable effort. It works on so many levels — salute to your father, highly personalized look at our life and times through the lens of your own family, history of the North Dakota oil biz, primer on Swedish immigration, critique of both fracking/oil industry and environmental elitism, insights into how our parents and their generation grappled with the Depression, decoding of legal and engineering jargon — and weaves all of these themes into a colorful narrative. And such fun reading!
–Dave Beal, free-lance journalist and retired business editor and columnist, St. Paul Pioneer Press
I loved the way you wove together the considerable research into geology and oil, as well your family history. The story pulled me in from the start, making it hard to put down.
–Penny Petersen, historian and author of Minneapolis Madams: The Lost History of Prostitution on the Riverfront
I received your book for Christmas and sat down this evening, reading nonstop to page 101! This all speaks to your talent and capture of this oil dilemma and of our families’ heritage. There is so much at stake and I thank you for your contribution.
–North Dakota State Senator Tim Mathern, Fargo
Thank you for such a wonderful book. I look forward to sharing this with my friends and hope that I will be able to convey my view that this is not a simple answer of yes or no to drilling and fracturing but a more nuanced subject. I feel like I’m straddling a line. On the one hand I absolutely believe in climate change and want to protect the environment, on the other hand, I can see other consequences if we were to completely stop our carbon economy.
–Oklahoma oil industry representative
Your reference material at the end of your book is a gold mine!
—Jacki Keck, writer and bookseller, Books on Broadway, Williston, North Dakota
Loved it! You explained a lot about surface rights and mineral rights
and the legal jargon . . . I actually took some notes, which is really
amazing. I usually just read.
–Sheila Craun, library director at Heart of America Library, Rugby, ND
Fractured Land: The Price of Inheriting Oil
With the frenzied fracking boom in North Dakota oil, a family’s mineral rights become suddenly valuable, bringing questions and challenges to a daughter who cares about the costs to the land.
What does an environmentalist do when she realizes she will inherit mineral rights and royalties on fracked oil wells in North Dakota? How does she decide between financial security and living as a committed conservationist who wants to leave her grandchildren a healthy world?
After her father’s death, Lisa Westberg Peters investigates the stories behind the leases her mother now holds. She learns how her grandfather’s land purchases near Williston in the 1940s reflect four generations of creative risk-taking in her father’s Swedish immigrant family. She explores the ties between frac sand mining on the St. Croix River and the halting, difficult development of North Dakota’s oil, locked in shale two miles down and pursued since the 1920s. And then there are the surprising and immediate connections between the development of North Dakota oil and Peters’s own life in Minneapolis.
Catapulted into a world of complicated legal jargon, spectacular feats of engineering, and rich history, Peters travels to the oil patch and sees both the wealth and the challenges brought by the boom. She interviews workers and farmers, geologists and lawyers, those who welcome and those who reject the development, and she finds herself able to see shades of gray in what had previously seemed black and white.
Lisa Westberg Peters is the author of many children’s books, including several geology-related titles. Trained as a journalist, she now works as an academic writing tutor at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul.
$17.95 paper, 240 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4, 40 b&w photos, notes, 978-0-87351-952-6
$12.99 e-book, 978-0-87351-953-3
Available from Minnesota Historical Society Press
Fractured Land Facebook page. Contact me at lisawpeters AT gmail DOT com