While hobnobbing with movie stars and presidents, the Big Rich also created the legend of the swaggering Texas oilman with island hideaways and sprawling ranches.
©2009 Bryan Burrough; (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC
"John Dunning is a master." (USA Today)
I have been in the oil and gas industry for over 25 years and now live in Houston. Thus, the story was interesting to me at first. About 3/4 of the way through the reading, I began to lose interest. If you are not in the business or not a Texan, then this book may bore you.
I had heard of many of the people and happenings that were covered in this book. However, I didn't know the details and how the people fitted together. This book put things in perspective and made a fascinating overview. Highly recommended!!
This is a fun tour. It's particularly strong on the early years of H.L. Hunt, Roy Murchison and Sid Richardson (the Bass family founder). The book loses its way a bit with the big detour through the Glenn McCarthy story (which deserves its own book). The main problem with the book is Burrough's strident liberal political correctness. It's "ultra-conservative" this and "ultra-conservative" that over and over again. Burroughs can't fathom why any of these people, whom he otherwise admires, might not be political liberals, and he gives one ludicrous sociological explanation after another to account for it. The answer, of course, is that all of these folks were men and women of their times and were very much in the mainstream of their era. There is also the possibility that people like H.L Hunt, who were right about quite a few things where others were not, might possibly have been right about most of their political views, as well. That America MIGHT owe them a debt of gratitude. Burroughs thinks such an idea ludicrous. The men were political laughingstocks, he says over and over again. But if you can make it through the cloying apologies to his political masters (his editor and the reviewers, one supposes), the remainder of the book is a wonderful romp through a fascinating epoch of American history. And there are quite a few ecstatic, sordid, weird and wild moments along the way, from H.L. Hunt's THREE families (he was nearly a TRI-gamist!) to the great moments of long-delayed validation for the oilman's oilman, Sid Richardson. The book wanders thematically a bit through the stories of the second and third generations, but there are some good tales there as well, and we find out what ultimately happened to all those oil fortunes and what the descendants did with what was one of the biggest piles of loot in human history. Ultimately, I recommend this. Burroughs tells a good, long story well.
I really enjoyed the narration from James Jenner, often some of these audio books are monotone in delivery but he really conveyed the character of the people discussed in the book.
The historical perspective and story telling is the strongest part of Burrough's writings and although I'm not particularly conservative myself I found political and character analysis the weakest part of the book. Not to undermine that I appreciate the great effort of the writing, however I think at least for the audio format the story became too long and felt a little rambling.
My husband & I share the account. Anything on history is his read. I'm more into fiction/zombie & apocalyptic reads.
If you are born in Texas or moved here it is a good primer for the development of the energy portion of the state.
Great book about the history of some of America's rich and famous people. This book discribes how history was made along with riches.
An amazing contemporary history of Texas Oil. I had to put the ear buds in when I parked the car and went in the store!
Historical and Accurate.
I don't live in Texas now, but ah the memories it brought back and ones I never knew. Did you know that during the Great Depression, the East Texas Oil Fields were booming and work was plentiful.
Thsi goes over the nail biting deals, debt and fortunes made during this days. A very exciting historical book. I highly recommend it.
Bryan Burrough in The Big Rich has done readers of history a great service in bringing to life the rise and fall of the greatest oil fortunes. To understand Texas and the current oil debates, this volume offers wonderful insight. Bryan Burrough (as in Barbarians at the Gate, Public Enebmies, and Dragonfly) brings the oil era into clear focus and major players into view. This is capitalism in action as we will never see again. Fortunes were built and many were never envisioned. They were just men taking chances. The Hunts, Muirchisons, Richardsons, and Cullens - what a crew! Burrough brings them all to life. Well written in Burrough's style and read very well by James Jenner.
Most of the book is interesting and enjoyable but the author goes to pains to denigrate his subjects when he (the author) strays into political analysis and editorializing rather than biography. Describing one of his main characters as participating in "classic paranoid right wing fantasies" and then labeling him "stupid" is both inaccurate and unprofessional. The author completely fails to understand the politics in the era he describes. But, as poor as the political writing is, the biographical stories are excellent and well worth the time. I recommend the book.
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