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As Texas Goes...: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agendaby Gail Collins
Synopses & Reviews
In one of the most timely political books in years, Gail Collins declares that “what happens in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas anymore.”
Gail Collins’s fascination with Texas began rather abruptly in that distant spring of 2009 when she heard Governor Rick Perry—back to the wall, boots to the ground—address a Tea Party rally full of passionate Texans who seemed to be interested in seceding from the Union. “How long had this been going on?” she wondered, on behalf of the rest of the nation. “Was it something that we said?”
The more she looked at Texas, the more she realized it was at the heart of the American political story. The Tea Party had Texas roots, with its passion for states’ rights and sense of persecution by an overreaching Washington. But Texas also seemed to be running the federal government it despised. Through its vigorous support of banking deregulation, which began with the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and ended calamitously with the Wall Street crash of 2008, Texas’s boot prints were deep.
In education, Texas had managed both to be the model for the wildly influential No Child Left Behind law and to provide some of the loudest political voices calling for the law to be trashed. In energy, Texas was the heart of the drill-baby-drill movement and the war against the whole concept of global warming.
Collins brilliantly frames this national movement through the outsized behavior and inimitable swagger of some of Texas’s most colorful and influential political figures, from former House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who got into politics when the EPA banned his favorite fire ant repellent, to Perry himself, who when confronted with the fact that his state had the country’s third-highest teen pregnancy rate, defended its abstinence-only sex education policy by doggedly asserting, “I’m just going to tell you from my own personal life. Abstinence works.”
Digging beneath the veneer of cowboy hats, oil derricks, and Alamo cries, Collins has produced a profoundly original work demonstrating that much of what ails America was first birthed in Texas.
Like it or not, as Texas goes, so goes the nation.
"Gail Collins explores the ways that Texas has influenced the direction of national politics, education policy, and the economy during the past 50 years. From failing schools and problematic sexual education curriculums to banking and housing scandals, she illustrates how the Lone Star State has led the United States astray. Collins's most compelling feat is capturing the mentality that seems to propel much of Texas (and to varying degrees, conservative) politics. As a narrator, Collins turns in a workmanlike performance, her tone shifting between the objective, judgmental, and critical. On the whole, she keeps the production engaging, but does falter in one major way: a certain degree of disdain and condemnation permeates her voice, particularly when she makes jokes or quotes officials. While this may not be as palpable in the print edition, her narration often feels snide and is thus potentially off-putting to listeners who might have been convinced by the evidence and not the attitude. A Liveright hardcover. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Gail Collins is the best-selling author of When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present and is a national columnist for the New York Times. She lives in New York City.
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