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UNREAL CITY: Las Vegas, Black Mesa, and the Fate of the West

An epic struggle over land, water, and power is erupting in the American West and the halls of Washington, DC. Author Judith Nies shows how the struggle over Black Mesa lands is really a global phenomenon in which giant corporations 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 America’s native peoples, 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.
UNREAL CITY Available from: Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Local Booksellers


“If you're headed to Las Vegas for vacation, pack this book along. In between visits to the giant pyramids and faux Manhattans, read it to get a real understanding of exactly how fragile this mirage is.”
—Bill McKibben, author Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across America's Most Hopeful Landscape, and founder, 350.org

“A hard-hitting chronicle of the hidden history behind the creation of Las Vegas... An important, multifaceted page-turner.”
– Kirkus Reviews (Read the full review)

“In this cautionary tale of money and power, Judith Nies has created a heart-wrenching account of the exploited American West—its resources and its people. Unreal City exposes the strange bedfellows and revolving doors that fuel crony capitalism. At the heart of it all is the public-private plunder that has sadly become the nation’s new normal, and the tragic toll it takes on everything in its path. Unsettlingly reminiscent of Polanski’s Chinatown, it is a brave undertaking.”
—Sally Denton, investigative reporter, historian, and author of The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America

Unreal City is a thriller equal to any fiction out there. With impeccable journalism and an easy, lively style, Nies takes us from the halls of political power to the boardrooms of industry to the mesa-top villages and hogans of Black Mesa to tell this story of the energy demands of southwestern cities and the impact on traditional Native Americans. Rich in detail and beautifully told, this is a gripping story, and one we should heed as we struggle to balance our competing needs for energy, quality of life, and environmental and cultural preservation.”
—Lucy Moore, author Into the Canyon: Seven Years in Navajo Country and Common Ground on Hostile Turf: Stories from an Environmental Mediator

“This book is blood-boilingly splendid. Meticulously reported and shocking in detail, Unreal City brilliantly dissolves the fraudulently spun myths of the American West to reveal a grim, heartbreaking progression of despoliation, waste, corruption, and betrayal of native peoples. This is the reality behind the insatiable Western Sunbelt and that desert chimera, Las Vegas. Throughout, Judith Nies brings scorching, revelatory light to the biggest undertold issue in America, the destruction of the West by unchained greed.”
—Katherine A. Powers, recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Nona Balakian Award in Reviewing

Unreal City is history, social commentary, and the tale of corporate manipulation to wrest abundant natural resources from native peoples’ lands. This work is the best of journalism and historical investigative reporting of a story that has simply not been visible prior to Nies’ research and writing.”
– Carol C. Harter, President Emerita and Regents Professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas

THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND: A Personal History of the Sixties

Chronicles Nies' struggle to cope with and finally overcome the limited opportunities for women in society and politics during the 1960s.
THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND Available from: Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Local Booksellers

A Narrative History of the Sixties


How the '60s Shaped Us

At the height of the Vietnam War protests, Judith Nies held “the most interesting job in Washington” as the chief staff assistant to a core group of anti-war congressmen. A graduate of John Hopkins School of Advance International Studies (SAIS) with an impressive international resume, Nies had everything she needed to succeed in Washington except for one obvious characteristic: she was the wrong gender.

In THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND: A Narrative History of the 1960’s and How Women Transformed America (Harper Collins, June 3, 2008), Nies chronicles her struggle to cope with and finally overcome the limited opportunities for women in society and politics. Shocked to find herself the focus of an FBI investigation due to her political activities, Nies traded in her role as a dutiful wife and marginalized employee to become one of a growing number of brave women who carved out a new path toward social reform.

THE GIRL I LEFT BEHIND is a compelling and perceptive biography for our current political landscape that presents the underpinnings of the civil rights era in a fresh and personal way.

NINE WOMEN: Portraits from the American Radical Tradition

An expanded edition of the history of American women radicals.
NINE WOMEN Available from: Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Local Booksellers

Portraits from the American Radical Tradition
(University of California Press, Fall 2002)

The expanded edition of the highly acclaimed narrative history by Judith Nies on America’s radical activists

In an expanded edition of her history of American women radicals, Judith Nies has added biographical essays on feminist Bella Abzug, civil rights visionary Fannie Lou Hamer, and a new essay on women environmental activists. Included are portraits of Sarah Moore Grimke,who rejected her life as a Southern aristocrat and slaveholder to promote women's rights and the abolition of slavery; Harriet Tubman, an escaped slave who led more than 300 slaves to freedom on the Underground Railway; Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the first woman to run for Congress, who advocated for women's rights to own property, to vote, and to divorce; Mother Jones, "the Joan of Arc of the coalfields," one of the most inspiring voices of the American labor movement; Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who worked for the reform of America's most cherished institutions, the home and motherhood; Anna Louise Strong, an intrepid journalist who covered revolutions in China and Russia; and Dorothy Day, cofounder of the Catholic Worker movement, who fed and sheltered the hungry and homeless in New York's Bowery for more than forty years.

“Buy Nies’s book and read it aloud faithfully, until all of you, young and old, have shared and incorporated into your vision of America the heroic, unique and visionary contribution women have made to the history of these United States.”
Cynthia Warrick Kemper, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Nies begins here to restore the great women radicals to the tradition, knowing that to think of these heroic women simply as fighters for women’s suffrage…is to impoverish …the larger political tradition of which it is a part.”
Frances Putnam Fritchman, In These Times

NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY: A Chronology of a Culture's Vast Achievements and Their Links to World Events

NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY: A Chronology of a Culture's Vast Achievements and Their Links to World Events
NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY Available from: Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Local Booksellers

A Chronology of a Culture's Vast Achievements and Their Links to World Events
(NY: Ballantine, l996)

A New Perspective on Native American History: A Chronological Account of its Place on the World Stage

A breakthrough reference guide, the first book of its kind to recognize and explore the rich, unfolding experiences of the indigenous American peoples as they evolved against a global backdrop. This invaluable history takes an important first step toward a true understanding of the depth, breadth, and scope of a long-neglected aspect of our heritage.

"here from the earliest times to l997, are the most important events in world history juxtaposed with crucial events in the history of American native peoples...highly recommended..."
Katherine Powers, The Boston Globe

"A superb book, well-researched, vividly written...It should be in every library."
Harvard Review

"Of indespensable help to all history instructors is Judith Nies' Native American History ..."
National Endowment for the Humanities/ Saddleback Seminar


THE FUTURE OF NATURE Available from: Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Local Booksellers

In 1998 Orion magazine published "THE BLACK MESA SYNDROME: Indian Lands Black Gold," an essay which became a finalist for the John Oakes Award in Distinguished Environmental Journalism. This story of energy exploitation on Indian lands is still posted on many environmental and Native American websites. In 2007 editor and author Barry Lopez included the article in this pathbreaking anthology devoted to exploring the changing ways we understand the relationship between people and the natural world.