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Big, Hot, Cheap, and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  148 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Texas may well be America’s most controversial state. Evangelicals dominate the halls of power, millions of its people live in poverty, and its death row is the busiest in the country. Skeptical outsiders have found much to be offended by in the state’s politics and attitude. And yet, according to journalist (and Texan) Erica Grieder, the United States has a great deal to ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 23rd 2013 by PublicAffairs (first published April 23rd 2012)
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I would recommend this quote for two types of people: those who like Texas, and those who don't (people falling into neither category should instead consult a book on introductory logic).

If you like Texas, then you will enjoy this book for the rich descriptions of Texas' history, and the insights into its culture, politics, and ethos.

If you don't like Texas, then reading this book may help to disabuse you of some of the more common negative perceptions about Texas that are out there in America's
Aug 08, 2013 Gary rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: texas
This is a more balanced response to Gail Collins' anti-Texas diatribe that came out last summer. Ms. Grieder gives more background and history which have lead to the current state which is Texas. As an ex-pat of Texas (I lived there 30 years), I miss so much about it. I am glad that a response to collins' book was printed. You have to be a resident of Texas or a fan of Texas to follow all the details, but I have enjoyed it.
When I picked up a copy of "Big, Hot, Cheap, and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas", I held low expectations, expecting to hear about Texas from the perception of a person with a regional superiority complex and an ego in proportion to the size of Texas. Instead, what I found was just enough background history of the territory, Republic, and later State of Texas, told in a way which helped me understand what is sometimes described as the "independent" attitude of man ...more
David George
An up-to-date look at Texas, with all its problems and possibilities. Includes a helpful summary of Texas history. Argues that in spite of Texas' idiosyncracies it is a successful state that others can learn from. The author is knowledgeable and readable. As one who grew up in Texas from age 12 to 26 and would like to live there again I found it fascinating.
A lot of political info in the last half of this, and it didn't seem to have direction, as the title suggests. Just "here's who is in office in Texas and here's what they're like." For the sake of this book's title, I felt like it was very critical of the state, its history, and its populace. The historical aspects were interesting, but ended rather quickly.
Interesting history of Texas, but too often strays into apologia or defensive posturing. Takes some strange and poorly reasoned/argued pot shots at detractors of present day Texas and/or conservatism. Worth it for the Texas history, but only because the book is pretty short, otherwise the poorly argued asides would have gotten tiresome.
Michelle Foyt
I'm glad I'm reading this book. It helps me better understand Texas, Texans and the state's history. It curbs my exasperation with the Texas building of wealth at the expense of the middle class and poor.
I have lived in several states and spent most of two decades in three different regions of Texas, so I believe that I have a pretty good feel for what makes Texas unique. I moved there for the opportunities, and Texas did not disappoint! When I first arrived, I soon realized that my dreams needed to expand to fit my adopted state. I simply was not dreaming big enough. But it was not the geographical size of the state that demanded increased capacity. It was this vibe that I could feel, this beli ...more
Interesting. A non-blistering explanation for what makes Texas work in it's own strange way.
I didn't have high expectations with this book, as I thought that any book about Texas was bound to be biased in one direction or another. However, Grieder writes in a refreshingly balanced manner, at times fawning over Texas and its low employment, and at other times, delivering a critical rebuke of Texas and its educational system. The book discusses the history of Texas, a story that Texans know well, analyzing how Texas made its way from the Alamo to slavery, from Spindletop to the JFK assas ...more
Feb 28, 2015 Luisa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2015
Interesting read. It took me a while to get into it, but the repeated blizzards and resulting snowcation in Boston gave me some good reading time. I lived in Texas for 5 years, so it was fun to read about how it became part of the United States and how its politics developed.

Favorite quote:

"Although the cliche says that power always corrupts, what is seldom said, but what is equally true, is that power always reveals" -Robert A. Caro, as qtd. on pg. 163
Corey A. Jones
This is a very informative book for anyone interested in the current Texas boom and it's history. I enjoyed the style of writing as it was easy to follow. I do think there was a slightly liberal slant in most of the assessments but not overtly liberal. One of the most interesting discussions was about how Texas used to be blue (Democrat) and is now so strongly red (Republican). Living here in Texas, you wouldn't ever believe it was blue.
This is a great book about Texas history and politics and it is very much worth your time to read. However you initially think and feel about Texas this book will give you plenty to think about, and you will probably come away from the subject worth a point of view that is as evenly balanced as Texans actually are.
Not the best writing. Thoughts didn't flow well all the time, but good read to know why Texas is what it is.
Can't wait for my next business trip to Texas now that I know a whole lot more about this state.
Sierra Cook
Interesting political and economic history
Big, Hot, Cheap and Right is an interesting book on Texas, and how Texas came to be such a successful state.

I appreciated that Grieder tried not to take sides for one party or another, but tried to portray reality more than political slogans.

On the other sides, I regret that she went back and forth in history along the book. There is a lot of information but I found it was a little messy how it was presented.
Jeremy Dawson
As a Native Texan I am disappointed in the depth and organization of the book. I have taught Texas government at the college level; I was wanting a more academic book, what I got was a bound blog. I think this book is good for a non-Texan or recent transplants that will never take a course about Texas.
I selected the book as a quirky addition to my library's "Texas Collection," but as I glanced through it, I got sucked in! Grieder's writing style is educated, and she offers an unusual, amusing rendition of Texas' history and its effect on the state today. I learned and chuckled through the book!
Jul 02, 2013 Lisa added it
I enjoyed this book far more than I thought I would. The author takes a look at Texas from all angles, and plays it fairly, to help people understand why Texas is the way it is. While the "Texas model" won't work for every state, it seems to work quite swimmingly here.
Interesting, and I learned a lot of neat stuff, but Grieder is more moderate than I am, and more confident that Texas' economic prosperity is broadly shared among ALL its citizens. I... know that not to be true.
An interesting look at the economic and political history of Texas. I am not sure that I learned much from this book, but it was a good read nonetheless.
Apr 13, 2013 Alma marked it as to-read
Can't wait to read this one! I'm sick of the Texas stereotyping & this book, I've heard, gives a fresh take on what makes Texas such a great state to live in.
Merle Warren
Easy reading history of Texas.
Neil marked it as to-read
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Erica Grieder is a senior editor at Texas Monthly, based in Austin, Texas. From 2007-2012 she was the southwest correspondent for The Economist. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, the New York Sun, The Spectator, and More Intelligent Life. Her first book was published this April.
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