Synopses & Reviews
In The Big Rich
, bestselling author and Vanity Fair
special correspondent Bryan Burrough chronicles the rise and fall of one of the great economic and political powerhouses of the twentieth centuryTexas oil. By weaving together the epic sagas of the industrys four greatest fortunes, Burrough has produced an enthralling tale of money, family, and power in the American century.
Known in their day as the Big Four, Roy Cullen, H. L. Hunt, Clint Murchison, and Sid Richardson were all from modest backgrounds, and all became patriarchs of the wealthiest oil families in Texas. As a class they came to be known as the Big Rich, and together they created a new legend in Americathe swaggering Texas oilman who owns private islands, sprawling ranches and perhaps a football team or two, and mingles with presidents and Hollywood stars.
The truth more than lives up to the myth. Along with their peers, the Big Four shifted wealth and power in America away from the East Coast, sending three of their states native sons to the White House and largely bankrolling the rise of modern conservatism in America. H. L. Hunt became Americas richest man by grabbing Texass largest oilfield out from under the nose of the man who found it; he was also a lifelong bigamist. Clint Murchison entertained British royalty on his Mexican hacienda and bet on racehorsesand conducted dirty dealswith J. Edgar Hoover. Roy Cullen, an elementary school dropout, used his millions to revive the hapless Texas GOP. And Sid Richardson, the Big Fours fun-loving bachelor, was a friend of several presidents, including, most fatefully, Lyndon Johnson.
The Big Four produced offspring who frequently made more headlines, and in some cases more millions, than they did. With few exceptions, however, their fortunes came to an end in a swirl of bitter family feuds, scandals, and bankruptcies, and by the late 1980s, the era of the Big Rich was over. But as Texas native Bryan Burrough reveals in this hugely entertaining account, the profound economic, political, and cultural influence of Texas oil is still keenly felt today.
Bryan Burrough has long been one of this nations best storytellers, but he has outdone himself with his tour de force, The Big Rich
. Set amid the rough and tumble of the Texas oil fields and stretching to the halls of political power in Washington, this epic tale reveals the hidden undercurrents of modern American history that flowed from four families of unimaginable wealth and recklessness. With an unerring eye for detail, Burrough dissects their lives and histories, starting with the patriarchsstruggling, poorly educated men who might have remained forever unknown if not for their success at pulling black ooze from the ground. The Big Rich
lays bare their arrogance and aspirations, their principles and hypocrisy, their daring and foolishness, taking readers deep inside a world of affluence that has remained secret for far too long. It is, quite simply, a triumph.
Kurt Eichenwald, author of The Informant and Conspiracy of Fools
Its hard to imagine a greater literary marriage than that of the oil barons of Texas and Bryan Burrough. On the one hand, you have a collection of gargantuan personalities who in the 1920s struck it rich and then, in the decades that followed, used their wealth to transform American business, culture and politics. On the other, you have an authorand native Texanwho writes, as he always does, with enormous insight and panache. The Big Rich has all the hallmarks of a classic American saga.
David Margolick, author of Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink
The Big Rich, a 400 page opus on the oil-powered rise of the Texas elite, has so many characters and entertaining subplots it reads like a petroleum-based Lord of the Rings. This is, of course, a compliment
In Burroughs captivating story, done with the same keen eye on excess as his corporate classic Barbarians at the Gate, its clear these men cast a shadow so wide they contributed more to our economic, national and political identities than almost any other titans of industry.
Burrough has done estimable new reporting, showing links between Texas money and national politics that stretch back far earlier than the days of Lyndon B. Johnson.
Mimi Schwartz, The New York Times Book Review
A Lone Star epic
Burrough introduces his protagonists with a novelists eye for detail.
Though this book forms an epitaph for a bygone era, its not without relevance today.
It would be hard to ask for a literally or figuratively rich cast of characters than those in The Big Rich
Nicely detailed and suspenseful.
Harry Hurt III, The New York Times Business Section
well researched and briskly told. Burrough has produced an indispensable guide to the knotty fascination that Texas spurs in the imagination.
Here at Capitol Annex, we get a fair number of books to review. Rarely do we come across one that we can so highly recommend
The Big Rich is simply a must read.
The Capitol Annex
Capitalism at its most colorful oozes across the pages of this engrossing study of independent oil men
This is a portrait of capitalism as white-knuckle risk taking, yielding fruitful discoveries for the fathers, but only sterile speculation for the sons a story that resonates with todays economic upheaval.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
The most improbable people of all must live in Texas and, in the good old days, they hunted for oil, found it, sold it, made fortunes and eventually blew most of it. In The Big Rich, Bryan Burrough tells a wonderful tale of the four biggest Texas millionaires.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
invokes a tale of bitter competition, family feuds, booms, and bankruptcies that more than lives up to the legends.
Booklist (starred review)
An entertaining look at the larger-than-life histories of the incomprehensibly rich and powerful.
Full of schadenfreude and speculationand solid, timely history too.
Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
Whats not to enjoy about a book full of monstrous egos, unimaginable sums of money and the punishment of greed and shortsightedness by the march of events?
[The Big Rich] is a ripping
read from start to finish. At the end of it those of less ample fortunes will feel their Schadenfreude richly indulged.
Bestselling author and "Vanity Fair" special-correspondent Burrough chronicles the rise and fall of one of the great economic and political powerhouses of the 20th century--Texas oil.
"What's not to enjoy about a book full of monstrous egos, unimaginable sums of money, and the punishment of greed and shortsightedness?"
Phenomenal reviews and sales greeted the hardcover publication of The Big Rich, New York Times bestselling author Bryan Burrough's spellbinding chronicle of Texas oil. Weaving together the multigenerational sagas of the industry's four wealthiest families, Burrough brings to life the men known in their day as the Big Four: Roy Cullen, H. L. Hunt, Clint Murchison, and Sid Richardson, all swaggering Texas oil tycoons who owned sprawling ranches and mingled with presidents and Hollywood stars. Seamlessly charting their collective rise and fall, The Big Rich is a hugely entertaining account that only a writer with Burrough's abilities-and Texas upbringing-could have written.
A rip-roaring saga of murder, money, and the making of Las Vegas
They say in Vegas you canand#8217;t understand the town unless you understand Benny Binionand#151;mob boss, casino owner, and creator of the World Series of Poker. Beginning as a Texas horse trader, Binion built a gambling empire in Depression-era Dallas. When the law chased him out of town, he loaded up suitcases with cash and headed for Vegas. The place would never be the same. Dramatic as any gangster movie, Blood Aces draws readers into the colorful world of notorious mobsters like Clyde Barrow and Bugsy Siegel. Given access to previously classified government documents, biographer Doug J. Swanson provides the definitive account of a great American antihero, a man whose rise from thugdom to prominence and power is unmatched in the history of American criminal justice.
About the Author
Bryan Burrough is a special correspondent at Vanity Fair and the author of numerous bestselling books, including Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco (with John Helyar) and Public Enemies: Americas Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-1934. A former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, he is a three-time winner of the John Hancock Award for excellence in financial journalism.