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

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Thorndike Press, 2009 - Business & Economics - 816 pages
16 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 centuryaTexas oil. By weaving together the epic sagas of the industryas 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 Americaathe 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 stateas native sons to the White House and largely bankrolling the rise of modern conservatism in America. H. L. Hunt became Americaas richest man by grabbing Texasas 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 racehorsesaand conducted dirty dealsawith J. Edgar Hoover. Roy Cullen, an elementary school dropout, used his millions to revive the hapless Texas GOP. And Sid Richardson, the Big Fouras fun-loving bachelor, was a friend of several presidents, including, most fatefully, Lyndon Johnson.
The Big Four produced offspring who frequently made moreheadlines, 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.

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User Review  - santhony - LibraryThing

This is a relatively entertaining and educational look at the mega-fortunes built through the discovery and exploitation of oil and gas in Texas in the early years of the 20th century. The four ... Read full review

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User Review  - nancyprovince - LibraryThing

This was a very entertaining book. You just shake your head. It's a fast read and very entertaining. There are several errors in this book. If you know anything about politics, you will catch them immediately upon reading it. Read full review

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About the author (2009)

Bryan Burrough was born in 1961 in Temple, Texas. Burrough is a New York Times best-selling author, special correspondent at Vanity Fair, and former Wall Street Journal reporter. Burrough graduated from the University of Missouri's School of Journalism in 1983. While in college, he was a reporter for the Columbia Missourian and interned at the Waco Tribune-Herald and the Wall Street Journal's Dallas Bureau. Burrough's bestselling book, Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the F.B.I., 1933-34, is scheduled to be released as a movie in 2009. Burrough is a three-time winner of the prestigious Gerald Loeb Award for Excellence in Financial Journalism. He lives in Summit, New Jersey with his wife and their two sons.