Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards

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University of Texas Press, Oct 3, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography
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When Ann Richards delivered the keynote of the 1988 Democratic National Convention and mocked President George H. W. Bush—"Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth"—she instantly became a media celebrity and triggered a rivalry that would alter the course of American history. In 1990, Richards won the governorship of Texas, upsetting the GOP's colorful rancher and oilman Clayton Williams. The first ardent feminist elected to high office in America, she opened up public service to women, blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans, gays, and the disabled. Her progressive achievements and the force of her personality created a lasting legacy that far transcends her rise and fall as governor of Texas.

In Let the People In, Jan Reid draws on his long friendship with Richards, interviews with her family and many of her closest associates, her unpublished correspondence with longtime companion Bud Shrake, and extensive research to tell a very personal, human story of Ann Richards's remarkable rise to power as a liberal Democrat in a conservative Republican state. Reid traces the whole arc of Richards's life, beginning with her youth in Waco, her marriage to attorney David Richards, her frustration and boredom with being a young housewife and mother in Dallas, and her shocking encounters with Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter. He follows Richards to Austin and the wild 1970s scene and describes her painful but successful struggle against alcoholism. He tells the full, inside story of Richards's rise from county office and the state treasurer's office to the governorship, where she championed gun control, prison reform, environmental protection, and school finance reform, and he explains why she lost her reelection bid to George W. Bush, which evened his family's score and launched him toward the presidency. Reid describes Richards's final years as a world traveler, lobbyist, public speaker, and mentor and inspiration to office holders, including Hillary Clinton. His nuanced portrait reveals a complex woman who battled her own frailties and a good-old-boy establishment to claim a place on the national political stage and prove "what can happen in government if we simply open the doors and let the people in."


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Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards

User Review  - Brett Rohlwing - Book Verdict

It's hard to believe that as recently as the early 1990s, the bright-red state of Texas had a pro-choice female Democrat as its governor. But Ann Richards (1933–2006) was not your typical lib'rul. A ... Read full review

Informative yet dull.

User Review  - maestra75 - Overstock.com

While an inspiration to us all this biography lacked the flow to make a good read. Read full review

Selected pages


New Frontiers
Lovers Lane
Problem Lady
The Rodeo
The New Texas
CHAPTER 22 Fast Start Ethicists CHAPTER 23 Odd Couples
Heartaches by the Number
Troubles by the Score

Raw Deals
The Class of 82
Raise Money and Wait
Cheap Help
Backyard Brawl
Answer the Question
Bustin Rocks
Collision Course
Poker Faces CHAPTER 14 The Speech

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About the author (2012)

Jan Reid has written for Texas Monthly, Esquire, GQ, Slate, Men’s Journal, Garden & Gun, the New York Times, and many other publications. His books include The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, The Bullet Meant for Me, Rio Grande, Texas Tornado: The Times and Music of Doug Sahm, and two award-winning novels, Deerinwater and Comanche Sundown. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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