"Big, Hot, Cheap, and Right" is a blend of Texas history and modern politics that details how Texas continues to be so unique among the other 49 states, even after 150 years in the union. The book provides a very balanced look at a complex and undeniably important state. Texas's small government but pro-business ethos is well documented and put into historical perspective. The book is not the scholarly work of a political scientist, but Grieder's journalistic experience makes this a highly readable and informative introduction to the state and its people.
Grieder's book is very similar to Gail Collins' "As Texas Goes." Although Grieder mentions Collins only once, "Big, Hot, Cheap, and Right" often reads like a direct response to Collins' less-informed and much more critical account. Whereas Collins travelled to Texas for interviews and bemusedly wrote about the state as though it were a carnival freak show, Grieder is a longtime Texas journalist who takes her subject seriously. She does not paper over Texas's faults or eccentricities, but she does succeed in showing that despite its obvious problems, "Texas isn't really as horrible as everyone thinks."
Grieder too often accentuates her casual writing style with unnecessary jokes, but her depth of research and honesty more than make up for any style flaws. Due to Texas's size, demographics, and economic growth, learning about Texas is in many ways learning about America's future, and this book is a great place to start.