Andrew Needham, associate professor of history at New York University, is the winner of the 2014 Weber-Clements Prize for Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America, for his volume Power Lines: Phoenix and the Making of the Modern Southwest (Princeton University Press, 2014). Needham specializes in recent United States history, with emphases in environmental, American Indian, and urban and suburban history as well as the history of the American West.
The judging committee wrote:
"Andrew Needham’s Power Lines: Phoenix and the Making of the Modern Southwest places indigenous peoples at the center of the story of western urban development. With evocative and elegant prose, Needham reveals how the rise of Phoenix as the central city of the Southwest depended on a colonial relationship with the Navajo Reservation nearly three hundred miles to the north. The electrical lines that powered air conditioners and industry—and thus the made possible the phenomenal growth of the metropolis—extended outward to the hinterlands of Navajo Country, home to two of the world’s largest open pit coal mines and several smoke-belching power plants. Navajos bore the environmental costs and received little of the electricity and economic prosperity they had hoped for. With Power Lines, Needham fuses together the histories of Native Americans, urban development, political economy, environmental change, and environmental injustice to craft a compelling narrative that will change how readers view the cities of the American West."
The $2,500 Weber-Clements Book Prize, administered by the Western History Association, honors fine writing and original research on the American Southwest. The competition is open to any nonfiction book, including biography, on any aspect of Southwestern life, past or present. The William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies is part of SMU's Dedman College and affiliated with the Department of History. It was created to promote research, publishing, teaching and public programming in a variety of fields related to the American Southwest.