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Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards Hardcover – October 3, 2012

47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book, which maintains a brisk pace and is filled with characters found only deep in the heart of Texas politics, is an indispensable addition to any collection specializing in Texas or state politics and feminist political figures. Both scholarly and accessible, it will appeal to almost any reader interested in the lives of American politicians.`" (Brett Rohlwing, Milwaukee Public Library Library Journal 2012-08-00)

"Required reading for political junkies―and for women considering a life in politics. " (Mary Carroll Booklist 2012-09-01)

"Reid is a clever stylist and a terrific storyteller. He has a fine grasp of Texas politics and no ideological ax to grind. As an account of Richards the politician in Lone Star surroundings, Let the People In is about as good as it gets." (David Oshinsky Texas Monthly 2012-10-01)

"Hers is a darned good story, and Reid, a veteran of Austin literary and political circles, tells it with sympathy, insight and a deep knowledge of contemporary Texas politics." (Bryan Burrough Washington Post 2012-10-12)

"Illuminates the challenge of being a woman in Texas politics during the late twentieth century. . . . Credit for the changing times belongs in large measure to the fortitude of Richards and others like her." (Economist)

"There’s something interesting on almost every page of Let the People In. This is a terrific book about a fascinating woman." (Houston Chronicle)

"Thoroughly researched and deftly written. . . . It should stand as the definitive biography of the forty-fifth governor of Texas for a long while." (The Historian 2015-01-00)

Review

"Jan Reid gives us new insight into Ann Richards, whose wit filled any room with laughter, whose candor chased away every smoke screen, whose heart was as big as Texas. Governor Richards was a leader you wanted to follow to a world where everyone could be a winner, and she never stopped trying to take us there. I loved her and so will you." (President Bill Clinton)|"I always felt that knowing Ann Richards was a bit like knowing a rock star. Jan Reid’s addition to the literature, myth, and reality about Ann is a great read for Ann’s fans and foes alike. I was sorry when we lost the great Ann Richards. I was sad when I closed this compelling book." (Liz Smith)|"At once a compelling, touching tale of a remarkable woman and an insightful account of the decline of Texas liberalism. Jan Reid captures the spirit, accomplishments, and failures of Ann Richards wonderfully well. One of the best books on Texas politics in years." (H. W. Brands)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 495 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press; 1 edition (October 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292719647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292719644
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #794,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

JAN REID is an award-winning journalist, novelist, and biographer. He first won acclaim for his magazine writing and his 1974 portrayal of Willie Nelson and other icons of Texas music, The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock. His 2012 biography, Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards, has won hurrahs from former President Bill Clinton and Dan Rather, and the Houston Chronicle hailed it as one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2012. The Pulitzer Prize winner and Al Qaeda chronicler Lawrence Wright wrote: "Here is Ann Richards -- ribald, ferocious, vulnerable, and hilarious --the last Texas liberal, well remembered by her friend, Jan Reid. A classic Texas character captured by a classic Texas writer." Another Pulitzer Prize winning author, David Oshinsky, wrote in his review: "Reid is a clever stylist and a terrific storyteller. He has a fine grasp of Texas politics and no ideological ax to grind. As an account of Richards the politician in Lone Star surroundings, Let the People In is about as good as it gets." Reid's novel Comanche Sundown was honored as best fiction of 2011 by the Texas Institute of Letters. Stephen Harrigan, author of the best-selling novel Gates of the Alamo, wrote: "This book represents a summoning of all of Jan Reid's remarkable powers. He writes with a scholar's reach, a novelist's depth, and a native son's intuitive grasp. He has long been one of the best Texas writers ever, and Comanche Sundown is his masterpiece." Other recent books by Reid include The Bullet Meant for Me, a memoir of his recovery from a near-fatal shooting in Mexico City and his friendship with a world champion boxer, Jesus Chavez; and Texas Tornado: The Times and Music of Doug Sahm, an Oxford Magazine Music Book of the Year in 2010. Reid's versatile work has appeared in Texas Monthly, Esquire, GQ, Men's Journal, Slate, Garden & Gun, the New York Times, Northern Liberties Review, and the prestigious anthologies Best American Sportswriting and The Slate Diaries. He and his wife Dorothy Browne and their collie Gus live in Austin.



Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Terry Weldon on October 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Jan Reid's book about Ann Richards is a wonderfully entertaining biography, and a lot more. Ann and her then husband David Richards were at the center of just about every important political and cultural fight in the Fifties and Sixties in Texas, and although they often came out on the losing side, they had a hell of a good time. The first two-thirds of this book cover extensively that era, with its shenanigans and capers lovingly recalled. The last third is for the most part about Governor Richards's successful campaign and her less successful one-term election to the office and although Reid was friendly with Richards and although his wife was her longtime employee, Reid outlines her shortcomings as Governor and as campaigner against George W. Bush, whose election led to his presidency. She should have tried harder to beat him, but like a lot of people since, she misunderestimated him.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robin Orlowski on June 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book explains how an outsider got into Texas politics--for the time that she did. And what she managed to accomplish with the resources she had at her disposal.

Beginning as a campaign worker for Sarah Weddingon, she later served on Travis County Commissioners Court and as State of Texas Treasurer. A strength of the text is that it does not gloss over her personal flaws. Having quit drinking and smoking with supportive help of friends, Richards herself easily conceded the recovery process is tough. She sincerely empathized with the challenges citizens faced in their daily lives. This woman captivated people specifically because she established common rapport---instead of trying to prove that she was 'hollier than thou'.

Richards came to national prominence (along with future president Bill Clinton) during the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. While Clinton stood out for his marathon speech, Richards was memorable for her demeanor.

Her common demeanor was so sincere that she honestly would under-estimate the serious threat which the 'son of a former president' posed through his gubernatorial campaign. Her organization mistook a small resume for lack of a viable political threat. So, the people lost their advocate in the Texas Executive Branch.

This part of the book gets retrospectively painful to read for those of us still missing Ann. A woman who had possessed such foresight for so long ended up squandering her re-election efforts. Yes, she did accomplish great things in her offices. But retrospectively, it wasn't the best campaign strategy which they could have possibly implemented. I'd hope that progressives study this part of the book especially if they are trying to keep their seats.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. Minton on February 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My husband is the one reading the book at the moment, but he has shared so much of it with me I feel like I have read it. Roy and I have a huge advantage in this arena because we knew Ann and Dave when they were young and still living in Dallas. We were all "Yellow Dog Democrats" together. Ann and Dave are the real items. The book is well written and portrays a careing loving woman who was born to help the "poor and needy" She fought long and hard for ordinary folks. She is what she is...."one of a kind" The book tells it like it was. We all enjoyed the ride.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Katie Danielson on November 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is wonderful! Jan Reid eloquently retells Ann Richards' life. This book includes some Texas history, political gossip, and supporting story lines around major events in her life. Reid captures Richards' wit, charm, and attitude. He brings her back to life and makes me wish she was still around today. I highly recommend this book for political literature enthusiasts as well as anyone looking to be inspired by a remarkable woman. Reid has done a beautiful job.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The biography of Ann Richards, by Texan Jan Reid, is one of the best political and personal biographies I've read. And I've read a lot of biographies of politicians and their places and times in history. But, while reading Reid's biography, I was struck as much by the story of the Texas Democratic Party and its decline in the last 50 years, as I was of Ann Richards life. Richards was part of the last hurrah of the Democrats; her defeat for reelection as Texas governor in 1994 by George W Bush was the beginning of the turn the state of Texas took from blue to red.

Lyndon Johnson famously declared, when he signed into law the civil rights legislation of the 1960's that "We have lost the South for a generation". The "we" he was referring to was, of course, the Democratic Party. Looking at today's electoral map, the south is almost a solid red. Oh, blue is creeping onto the map - Florida and Virginia went blue in the 2008 and 2012 presidential races- but Lyndon Johnson's sad prophesy is moving solidly into its third generation of voters.

But, back to Ann Richards. Born in 1933, the only child of a Waco lower middle class family, she was always a "star". Marrying her high school and college sweetheart, David Richards, she graduated from Baylor University and began a family with him as his law career began to take off. They eventually had four children - oldest daughter Cecile Richards is head of Planned Parenthood. David and she were part of the liberal wing of the Texas Democratic Party, which in the 1950's and 1960's was involved in Civil Rights and other progressive causes. The Richards and their friends partied hard - this was Texas, after all - and Ann eventually became an alcoholic.
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