Saturday, June 12, 2010

162 (2010 #27). The Big Rich

Subtitled, "The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes,", this nonfiction book by Bryan Burrough was the selection of my local book club for May 2010. While not an easy read, it was quite interesting, and is thoroughly researched, footnoted, and documented.

Focusing on four oilmen and their families--H.L. Hunt, Sid Richardson, Clint Murchison, and Roy Cullen--Burrough tells how they came to wealth and what they (and their offspring) did with it.

The most interesting character was H. L. Hunt, the bigamist. But the book also touches on some other oilmen, such as Glenn McCarthy (the inspiration for Edna Ferber's Giant) and George Strake, the namesake of the high school my brothers attended (and whose granddaughter was in my high school class).

Despite growing up in Houston in the 60s through mid-70s, I was only vaguely familiar with some of these names, because most of the action in the book took place prior to that time. I'd heard of Herbert and Nelson Bunker Hunt and the silver fiasco, because that happened around 1980. I also knew there were a number of buildings around Houston with Cullen in their names. After moving back to Texas about four years ago (after 21 years away), I learned about the legacy of Richardson and his Bass nephews in the Fort Worth area. I had no idea that Murchisons once owned the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Stadium, or that Hunts built Reunion Tower and Mansion on Turtle Creek. I also did not know that McCarthy built the Shamrock Hotel in Houston - or that it had been torn down!

All in all, I learned a lot from this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in Texas history.

[This book was borrowed from my university library and has been returned.]

© Amanda Pape - 2010

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