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

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

Bryan Burrough

Language: English

Pages: 480

ISBN: 0143116827

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


"What's not to enjoy about a book full of monstrous egos, unimaginable sums of money, and the punishment of greed and shortsightedness?"

Phenomenal reviews and sales greeted the hardcover publication of The Big Rich, New York Times bestselling author Bryan Burrough's spellbinding chronicle of Texas oil. Weaving together the multigenerational sagas of the industry's four wealthiest families, Burrough brings to life the men known in their day as the Big Four: Roy Cullen, H. L. Hunt, Clint Murchison, and Sid Richardson, all swaggering Texas oil tycoons who owned sprawling ranches and mingled with presidents and Hollywood stars. Seamlessly charting their collective rise and fall, The Big Rich is a hugely entertaining account that only a writer with Burrough's abilities-and Texas upbringing-could have written.

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Oil’s power in Washington coincided with the death throes of Cullen’s and Hunt’s political careers. Facts Forum was already flagging in 1955 when Dan Smoot left to head his own small media company. Hunt shuttered what remained in November 1956; outside Dallas, no one seemed to notice. In Houston, Cullen, now seventy-five, was still delivering the occasional fire-breathing speech—in a June 1956 address he called for the impeachment of the entire Supreme Court—but the press, even the Houston

every turn. During the proxy fight John had promised shareholders he would recapitalize IDS via a ten-for-one stock split, but when he proposed it Kirby sued and won. John wanted to sell off New York Central shares. Kirby opposed him. Kirby opened his doors to the press, sniping at John’s inability to boost the price of Alleghany’s stock, which was sagging in the face of the internecine warfare. “The Murchison boys want me to sell out,” Kirby told one writer, “but I won’t. That’s one thing I

sought a change in terms. When the NFL announced it would expand to fourteen teams in 1961, Clint Jr. changed tack and set his sights on starting a new team. In early 1959, just as Lamar was sending out his first feelers about buying a team, he began meeting with the owner of the Chicago Bears, George Halas, chairman of the league’s expansion committee. Once he realized Murchison was in the picture, Lamar realized it was unlikely he would win a franchise of his own. Like his father, though,

wall pockets. Open spaces were lined with terra cotta and mahogany. St. Joe’s became Richardson’s very private world, off-limits to outsiders and rarely photographed, reachable only by boat or airplane. He staffed the island with Negro servants and a wrangler for his cattle and, along with the pilots and chauffeurs he accumulated in later years, this group became what amounted to his immediate family. “I’ll always remember Sid sitting back in the ‘staff room’ behind the kitchen, playing dominoes

ventures. Everywhere slick promoters, backed by modern advertising, pushed ordinary citizens to plunge their savings into a range of new and often risky investments: real estate in Florida and California, gold and silver mines in Nevada, all manner of Wall Street offerings—and oil. Magazines thrummed with stories of the fortunes being made in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas, a few of which were actually true. Southwestern oil fields were “making millionaires at . . . a dizzy rate,” Scientific

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