Neon City: Power lines and plundered lands

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I hope NCPH members and The Public Historian subscribers will enjoy our second foray into digital special editions tuned to the current moment in public history. Our Monuments, Memory, Politics, and Our Publics issue of last September responded to public debates around the removal of “Lost Cause” monuments then in the news. This edition is timed to provide attendees of our annual conference in Las Vegas, April 18-21, advance insights drawing upon topical essays and reviews from our digital backlist.

But we begin with an original essay by NYU’s Andrew Needham, inspired by his multiple prize-winning 2014 book, Power Lines, on the making of the modern Southwest.  Electricity generated by coal strip-mined from Navajo and Hopi reservation land makes “Vegas” possible. It will cause us to think more deeply as we revel in the air-conditioned Renaissance Hotel and marvel at the dazzling lights of Sin City. We go on to feature pieces on the challenges of historic preservation in a city that imagines itself always in the “now,” how photography can bring to “life” the superficially barren Mohave desert, a keen-eyed review of The Atomic Testing Museum, which many of us may visit, and a review essay on Vegas’s “sister” city of Reno and its landmark status as capital of the “divorce industry.” Something for everyone.

Enjoy, and we on the TPH and University of California Press staff will look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas.

James F. Brooks is editor of The Public Historian and professor of history and anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


NCPH Las Vegas – TPH special digital issue

What Happens in Vegas: Historic Preservation and Sustainable Public History in Sin City

Summer Cherland, Deirdre Clemente, Andy Kirk
August 2014, Vol. 36 No. 3

Visualizing What Happened Near Vegas: Experiences in Photographing a Public History Project
Julian Kilker
August 2014, Vol. 36 No. 3

Viewing America’s Bomb Culture: The Atomic Testing Museum. Las Vegas, Nevada
W. Patrick McCray
Winter 2006, Vol. 28 No. 1

Review Essay: Reno Revisited: Fresh Perspectives on the “Biggest Little City in the World”
Su Kim Chung
August 2017, Vol. 39 No. 3

Book Review: St. Thomas, Nevada: A History Uncovered
Ryan Powell
May 2014, Vol. 36 No. 2

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