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

Front Cover
Penguin, 2009 - History - 466 pages
46 Reviews
In The Big Rich, bestselling author and Vanity Fairspecial correspondent Bryan Burrough chronicles the rise and fall of one of the great economic and political powerhouses of the twentieth century—Texas oil. By weaving together the epic sagas of the industry’s 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 America—the 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 state’s native sons to the White House and largely bankrolling the rise of modern conservatism in America. H. L. Hunt became America’s richest man by grabbing Texas’s 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 racehorses—and conducted dirty deals—with J. Edgar Hoover. Roy Cullen, an elementary school dropout, used his millions to revive the hapless Texas GOP. And Sid Richardson, the Big Four’s 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.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
8
4 stars
24
3 stars
9
2 stars
4
1 star
1

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

User Review  - TJ - Goodreads

Spoiler alert: Conservatives are racist, corrupt, and evil. The big rich were ultra-conservatives; ultra-racist, ultra-corrupt, and ultra-evil. Oh yeah, and a bunch of Texans got extremely wealthy ... Read full review

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

User Review  - Kristi - Goodreads

Very interesting on the history of oil in Texas. The first part of the book was fascinating: how oil was found using various combinations of money, luck, intelligence, and chutzpah. It's kind of ... Read full review

All 12 reviews »

Contents

two The Creekologist
15
three Sid and Clint
32
four The Bigamist and the Boom
52
five The Worst of Times the Best of Times
83
six The Big Rich
101
seven Birth of the Ultraconservatives
126
eight War and Peace
147
nine The New World
164
twelve The Golden Years
250
thirteen Rising Sons
273
fourteen Sun Sex Spaghettiand Murder
308
fifteen Watergate Texasstyle
334
sixteen Trie Last Boom
355
seventeen The Great Silver Caper
387
eighteen The Bust
406
epilogue
433

ten A Clumsy and Immeasurable Power
202
eleven Troglodyte Genus Texana
229
bibliographical notes
447
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

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: AmericaÂ's 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.

Bibliographic information