Kenn's Reviews > The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes

The Big Rich by Bryan Burrough
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Dec 23, 10

Read from October 22 to November 15, 2010

The Big Rich is a fascinating story about four Texas families who became fabulously wealthy by striking oil.
Of these four, perhaps the most interesting was that of the Hunts. H.L. Hunt the family patriarch, was the real scoundrel of the bunch. He was a philanderer who had three wives! He made his fortune by, among other actions, taking advantage of inside information.

Sid Richardson and Clint Murchison were boyhood friends. Richardson parlayed a modest loan from Murchison's banker father into hundreds of millions of dollars. Never married, he left his vast fortune to his sister's family, the Basses.

Murchison's two sons ended up losing their fortune through bad investments and the oil crisis of the 70's when more and more oil was being imported from the Middle East thus driving prices dramatically down.

There were three interesting side notes as well as many colorful anecdotes.
One story centered on the Shamrock Hotel built in Houston in the 40's.
Another was on how they used their money to virtually create the conservative movement albeit too radically right.
Finally, Lamar Hunt a legitimate son of H.L. formed the American Football League and to this day still owns the Kansas City Chiefs while Clint Murchison,Jr. was awarded the expansion Dallas Cowboys which he owned until it was sold to Jerry Jones in the 80's.

Oil transformed Texas from a dusty cowpoke state imagined by the Eastern Establishment into a powerful entity that sent people to the inner reaches of the government including Lyndon Johnson who was bankrolled by Texas oil but disassociated himself from them during their conservative movement era.
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10/22/2010 page 60
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