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

3.39  ·  Rating Details  ·  203 Ratings  ·  39 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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Jan 07, 2016 Josiah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, nswm
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 really liked it
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.
Oct 22, 2013 Ray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 27, 2013 David George rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 14, 2013 Kory rated it it was ok
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.
Oct 28, 2013 Matt rated it liked it
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.
Dec 02, 2015 Jon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really like Erica Grieder's writing, her perspective and so naturally I was eager to read this book, somewhat later than I wish I had gotten to it. Like her Texas Monthly pieces, her blog and even her Twitter feed, this is sharply written, incisive, well-researched and more balanced than a lot of books about Texas. Having said that, and while not disagreeing with some of her conclusions, Grieder's overall thrust is too dismissive of the downside of the current prevailing philosophy governing t ...more
Jul 06, 2015 Craig rated it really liked it
This was a good read for anyone who wants some background on the current state of things in Texas. This is neither a pro-Texas nor anti-Texas book and Ms. Greider paints a reasonably balanced perspective on the Lone Star State. There is enough history to help an unfamiliar reader along and she generally avoids getting bogged down in details. The Tea Party influence does not play a major role although it had started to clearly emerge when Ms. Greider was writing. The chapters on partisan politics ...more
Michelle Foyt
Jun 30, 2013 Michelle Foyt rated it it was ok
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
Jan 06, 2016 Nathaniel rated it it was ok
An interesting, provocative, but flawed analysis of Texas's governing philosophy and relationship with the rest of the United States.

The biggest pro of this book, for me, is that Grieder gives her state a lot of context and perspective. She seems to be especially targeting progressives inclined to demonize Texas because of its prominent right-wing politicians and various other political issues that impact the rest of the country. There's a lot in here about Texas history and governing philosoph
Sep 18, 2013 Jack rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, politics
Interesting. A non-blistering explanation for what makes Texas work in it's own strange way.
Jul 17, 2016 Shanae rated it liked it
This would have been a great name for an autobiography. Alas...
This book was interesting, but a little bit false advertising. It would have been more aptly subtitled: What You Wrongly Assume About Texas and Should Stop Assuming Because You're Wrong. (But that's not snappy). I've loved living in this unique state and learning more about it. Some of her facts are dated (gay marriage, Perry running for office etc...) And some facts were (eh) not facts. But for the most part it was an interesting r
May 06, 2015 Dan rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Well-written and extremely even-handed. A few things stand out:

- Texas is not really into libertarian economics, per se, so much as defending business interests. So something like the Export-Import Bank is acceptable in the "Texan" worldview, provided that it is assisting in the goal of economic growth. (A purer capitalist model would reject Ex-Im as interfering with the free market.)
- The Texas constitution restricts government so much that even if/when the Democrats return to power in the stat
Nov 17, 2013 Andrew rated it really liked it
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
Melody Condron
Jul 09, 2015 Melody Condron rated it it was amazing
As a new resident of Texas with some reservations about the state, I loved learning how Texas was shaped in terms of politics and history. The book does not sugarcoat things: Texas looks bad in a lot of ways. However, the books doesn't just write it off as Texas (or Texans) being crazy. It explains how things and people have developed, and I enjoyed being educated on how and why the state is how it is. The book is well-written and enjoyable, with many funny moments. It is also sad in a few ways, ...more
Feb 28, 2015 Luisa rated it liked it
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
Jan 06, 2015 Corey A. Jones rated it liked it
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.
Mark Holencik
Nov 14, 2015 Mark Holencik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Interesting history of Texas. The book starts as a history of how Texans stand on their own. As the book goes along the author ends up talking about only a political solution to the issues. The author believes that George Bush is a conservative. George Bush made goverment bigger and spent more money that we did not have. That is not a conservative.
Sep 29, 2014 Jason rated it it was amazing
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.
This is a brief rundown of the history, politics, and demographic future of Texas. In general, I liked the author's writing style, although I winced when she said something along the lines of, "The average Texan is not as homophobic as you might think!"
Nov 29, 2015 Ryan rated it liked it
Erica Grieder, a senior editor at Texas Monthly, is one of the best commentators on Texas politics (though she is quite open about her ideological biases). However, the book itself is somewhat unstructured and rambling.
Perky Texan
May 25, 2015 Perky Texan rated it really liked it
Heavy on the politics and economics of Texas, I didn't enjoy this book as much as I hoped I would. However, it's mainly bc I don't love politics or economics. I did like the history and social aspects of this book, and overall, it was well-written, and I felt (somewhat remarkable for a Texan) that it wasn't terribly biased. Not being a big poli-sci fan, it wasn't my favorite, but I would recommend it.
Mar 22, 2014 Nola rated it liked it
Not the best writing. Thoughts didn't flow well all the time, but good read to know why Texas is what it is.
Feb 14, 2015 Bill rated it really liked it
Can't wait for my next business trip to Texas now that I know a whole lot more about this state.
Jul 17, 2016 Vera rated it really liked it
Interesting book about Texas , it does explain some history of Texas and the reason why the state votes red and why some people hate Texas but yet Texas is still a model for other states because of its good qualities
Sierra Cook
Jan 31, 2015 Sierra Cook rated it liked it
Interesting political and economic history
Mar 22, 2014 Carine rated it liked it
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
Jun 30, 2013 Jeremy Dawson rated it it was ok
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.
May 27, 2013 Pamela rated it liked it
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!
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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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