Pssst…I have the secret recipe for renewable fuel. Want to know where I found this recipe that will take down big oil? In the novel, “The Year God Forgot Us,” by Dennis Nau. Ok, so I don’t really have some super duper secret renewable fuel recipe, but this week’s book was a fictional look at 1936, during the Great Depression, where the town of Bernadotte, North Dakota believes they have met the man who will revolutionize fuel by stealing a secret recipe developed by the Mormans.
A stranger drives in to town and fills up his tank with water, shakes his truck, and drives off. This leads to town gossip and eventually the driver begins frequenting the local cafe when he comes through town and begins planting the idea of the secret fuel recipe and how the town can “buy” the recipe and become rich. Al, the leader of the pack” says, “The Mormons are the devil. Satan. Satan with a suit on. That’s the Mormons. They discovered the secret formula of how to turn water into gasoline, the Mormans did.”
Eventually Al unveils the catalyst as wheat flour, a dream for struggling wheat farmers. As the town gets excited about the gasoline venture, Johnny, the proprietor of the cafe says, “A lot of money would stay in this area, wouldn’t do out east to people in Boston and New York. It wouldn’t go west to Los Angeles. The money wouldn’t be parked in banks in Chicago. We grow wheat here. Think of what this would do to the demand for wheat. Why, every farmer in North Dakota would be able to make enough money for a decent living. This would benefit all our neighbors…”
While I’m not going to spill the beans on what happens, the narrative is colorful and I could almost imagine sitting on the bar stool eating breakfast at the cafe and watching and participating as the events unfold. While the book isn’t about “biofuels” per se, it does lay out the foundation for the future fuel as American farmers – exactly what is happening today as farmers grow energy crops. I would be remiss if I didn’t say the language could be offensive to some, but Nau means no disrespect to Mormans or others. The scam in the book is perpetrated on Americans of all race and creed and the tale is told true to its time – 1936 during the Great Depression.