Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dear Great Book Guru,
Thanksgiving will be here next week- it's one of my favorite holidays- but November is also the anniversary of another event- the JFK assassination in Dallas, Texas-47 years ago. Texas has always held a strange fascination for me so when I heard that there is a new book out about the Lone Star State, I was immediately interested ,but I can't remember the title. Any idea? Fascinated by Texas

Dear Fascinated, Yes, I love Thanksgiving too. We celebrate the whole weekend. On Friday the Calzonettis, the Gordons, the Kennedy-Hansmanns, and all the DiPietros join up to share stories and leftovers and follow up the next day with a tree- decorating party. But back to your Texas fixation: THE BIG RICH by Bryan Burrough is the book for you . Burrough grew up in Texas , moved East as a teenager, but retained a great interest in his native state. He focuses on four men whose oil fortunes created modern day Texas. He identifies them as "a good old boy, a scold, a genius, and a bigamist." The story opens in 1901 in Spindletop, a small town in southeast Texas where "black gold" is discovered. For the next forty years- until the world turned to the Middle East for its oil fix- Texas produced billions of gallons and consequently, billions of dollars. These men, their families, and most importantly, their money created the conservative movement that so colors the politics of present day America. Each man's story reads like fiction and one is left wondering -is it the immense size of the state that creates such larger than life figures? For many years, Texas succeeded in maintaining its sovereignty before becoming part of the union. The question is- would we all - Texans and the rest of us- have been better off if it had continued to go it alone?

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