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The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes | [Bryan Burrough]

The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes

Best-selling author Bryan Burrough reveals how four Texas oil tycoons transformed America. Rising from humble beginnings through hard work and shrewd dealings, they shifted the balance of power in American politics. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

Best-selling author Bryan Burrough reveals how four Texas oil tycoons transformed America. Rising from humble beginnings through hard work and shrewd dealings, they shifted the balance of power in American politics.

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

What the Critics Say

"John Dunning is a master." (USA Today)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (206 )
5 star
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Overall
4.4 (94 )
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Story
4.3 (96 )
5 star
 (52)
4 star
 (26)
3 star
 (15)
2 star
 (2)
1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Andrew Houston, TX, United States 10-12-09
    Andrew Houston, TX, United States 10-12-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Houston Oilman"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alex ROCKVILLE, MD, USA 04-30-09
    Alex ROCKVILLE, MD, USA 04-30-09 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating Story, Well Researched, Good Reader"

    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!!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tl USA 06-30-12
    tl USA 06-30-12

    tl

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating early history of Texas oil"
    Would you try another book from Bryan Burrough and/or James Jenner?

    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darkcoffee Allen, TX, United States 11-09-09
    Darkcoffee Allen, TX, United States 11-09-09 Member Since 2009
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    "Big, Sordid, Fascinating, PoliticallyCorrect"

    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.

    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K 03-01-15
    K 03-01-15 Listener Since 2010

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nothing New"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    In comparison to the cost of this book, the material is lacking. I felt the book was hardly more than headlines to the underlying story.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Bryan Burrough? Why or why not?

    Maybe but I would never pay this much for another book by him. He is a dadgum long way from having my admiration but his style was worthy.


    What aspect of James Jenner’s performance would you have changed?

    He was okay; not impressionable, only mediocre.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Yes to hopefully watch the plot develop on a Paul Harvey standard, i.e., "the rest of the story."


    Any additional comments?

    I wouldn't recommend the book. There are some interesting facts which were previously unknown to me but overall, it was substantially boring.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-12-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Educational yet entertainment"
    Would you listen to The Big Rich again? Why?

    Yes, such a wealth of knowledge it was hard to soak it all up


    What about James Jenner’s performance did you like?

    Kept me engaged in this history lesson from cover to cover


    Any additional comments?

    I am new to the Texas oil culture and was recommended to read two books: The Big Rich & The Frackers. Each book has been invaluable in understanding the [oil & gas] history, past & current, and the influence on Houston, on Texas, and on the nation.

    Definitely worth the read for anyone new to the oil & gas industry and I’m sure valuable for y’all that already think you aced 7th grade Texas history class.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harold 12-08-14
    Harold 12-08-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Powerful story of the Biggest Men in Big Oil"
    If you could sum up The Big Rich in three words, what would they be?

    Intriguing, Exciting, Tragic


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Big Rich?

    The Clint Merchison family and the creation of the Dallas Cowboys.


    Have you listened to any of James Jenner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, I have not.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me feel compassion for the tragic fall from power two of these four families experienced.


    Any additional comments?

    Very informative and entertaining.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Plaisance Buffalo Gap, TX United States 06-27-12
    K. Plaisance Buffalo Gap, TX United States 06-27-12 Member Since 2015

    Hippie Gal

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    "The Big Rich"

    If you are born in Texas or moved here it is a good primer for the development of the energy portion of the state.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roy DAWSON SPRINGS, KY, United States 11-13-11
    Roy DAWSON SPRINGS, KY, United States 11-13-11 Member Since 2011
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    "American's Rich and Famous"

    Great book about the history of some of America's rich and famous people. This book discribes how history was made along with riches.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roy BOISE, ID, United States 05-15-11
    Roy BOISE, ID, United States 05-15-11 Member Since 2013

    Roy-in-Boise

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    "Well written!"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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