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As Texas Goes...: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda 1st Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0871404077
ISBN-10: 0871404079
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Editorial Reviews

Review

There is no one like Gail Collins: uproarious fun on every page, but with a serious point. In this wonderful book she devastates Texas for its hypocrisy, its ignorance, its worship of wealth. But you cannot keep laughing as she shows how the Texan mind works a baleful influence on the rest of the country. (Anthony Lewis)

The reader who senses a touch of sarcasm would not be wrong…. [Collins] has a good eye for absurd details. (Erica Grieder - New York Times)

With wit and humor, Collins focuses on major Texas figures, from Davy Crockett to Rick Perry, to offer a portrait of an outsize state anxious to take on the task of setting the rest of the country straight and of the broader implications that has for the rest of the country. (Booklist)

Gail Collins is the funniest serious political commentator in America. Reading As Texas Goes… is pure pleasure from page one. (Rachel Maddow)

There's no funnier writer about politics than Gail Collins, and in Texas, she's found the perfect canvas. The state's record at producing some of the nuttiest characters ever to enter American public life is matched only by its recent prowess in infecting the other 49 states with those politicians' most crackpot policy ideas. Collins serves up hilarity and horror in equal measure and leaves you rooting for Rick Perry to make good on his threat to lead Texas out of the Union. (Frank Rich)

New York Times columnist Collins revels in the state's 10-gallon self-regard, Alamo-inspired cult of suicidal last stands, and eccentric right-wing pols... Much like the late Texas dissident Molly Ivins, she slathers plenty of wry humor onto a critique that stings like a red-hot brand. (Publishers Weekly)

Starred review. New York Times political columnist Collins zeroes in on what makes Texas so important and why the rest of the country needs to know and care about what’s happening there…A timely portrait of Texas delivered with Collins’ unique brand of insightful humor. (Kirkus Reviews)

[Collins] set off on a whirlwind tour to discover the Lone Star State and its transcendent meaning, deploying a breezy, wisecracking polemical style familiar to fans (including me) of her twice-­weekly column in The Times. (Lloyd Grove - New York Times Book Review)

New York Times columnist Gail Collins makes a compelling case in As Texas Goes... that much of what ails the nation began down in the Lone Star State… her larger thesis has a chilling ring of truth. Texas represents a kind of dark bellwether for the rest of the country: a two-tiered society in which the affluent rig the system in their favor while a vast underclass struggles to pay for basic services such as medical care. (Steve Almond - Boston Globe)

Collins lays out a convincing case that many of the nation’s more misguided―sometimes outright wacky―policies originated in Texas, ranging from public education to environmental regulation to teaching kids about sex… Worth a read. (Deborah Yetter - Louisville Courier-Journal)

About the Author

Gail Collins, the best-selling author of When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, is a national columnist for the New York Times. She lives in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Liveright; 1 edition (June 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871404079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871404077
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #893,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By RBSProds TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"We feel Texas' influence in our lives every day..." Gail Collins

Four and a half OVERALL Stars! (On my second pass through, this excellent book gains one star!) Texas has "way more influence than one-fiftieth of the union deserves" asserts author Gail Collins. She began to pay more attention to the large influence of the Lone Star State in 2009 when the star-crossed presidential hopeful Governor Rick Perry became a political lightning rod throwing around the word "secession" at times. Looking deeper into the matter she now sees Texas as a more highly-influential state than she originally suspected across a number of political and social fronts, but not without its own unique and sometimes self-inflicted problems which she documents in this sometimes humorous, fact-laden book. She is amazed at how we make things 'bigger' in Texas, starting with the state capitol building, and how politicians from Texas are in the front rank of influence on the national legislative and presidential matters, reminding us that a (non-native born) Texan has been President or Vice President 20 of the last 32 years in the person of Bush 41 and 43. She keys in on two cities to explain the "empty place" ethos: Houston, a city that "goes on forever", with no zoning, as a prime example of 'crowded places with empty spaces in between' (and beyond the city limits), where an 'empty spaces' less-government attitude prevails. And Midland, a struggling city on the upswing, that has had its ups and downs riding the prevailing trends for survival. She also sprinkles in words like "passle" and "bidness" (I know no one who talks like that in my 'deep in the heart of Texas' city except TV car dealers).
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of the best books on the topic I have read. Collins gets it totally right in her analysis of what makes the crazy state - and state of mind- of Texas . She is right, too, about how Texas has outsize influence over the rest of our country. Just a brief look at the state school board's textbook approval process reveals that Texas is, well, "a whole 'nother country." When we moved here 9 years ago, I was daily amazed at Texas politics, values, and style. And yet, all those things have become a big part of American identity in recent years. Anyone curious about how national politics and cultural/religious values can be influenced by what begins as local influence, should read this book.
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Format: Paperback
"As Texas Goes" is a full-throated critique of Texas state policy and the ills it exports to the rest of America. Collins devotes the book to arguing that no matter how good Texas may look to outsiders (e.g. low unemployment, low cost of living, no income tax), it is a actually a blot on the union that parasitically steals other states' companies and college graduates, while foisting upon the country pollution, censored textbooks, and loony Republican politicians.

Collins' argument is easy to follow, if not always convincing. Collins blames Texas for, among other things, the Savings & Loan Crisis, No Child Left Behind, and presidents who "have led the country into every land war . . . since Vietnam." Often, she seems to work backwards; first announcing a conclusion, then presenting one-sided evidence with sarcasm and stale rhetoric. Other times, she abandons even the pretense of serious analysis. For example on page 151, when discussing Texas's pro-business policy, she states, "Perhaps Texas has the recipe for growing the national economy. Great! On the other hand, maybe job growth is mainly due to accidents of the state's location, and the competition is just a way to blackmail other states into bankrupting themselves for no good reason whatsoever expect corporate greed. Of course, the truth could lie somewhere in the middle . . . but for the moment, I'm going with the blackmail-and-bankrupt scenario." This is not how a serious author would write on a complex subject.

This is a short book, but Collins packs in a lot of material and a lot of unoriginal, generalized observations.
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Full disclosure: I'm a Northern liberal and I despise what I know of Texas. That said, this book isn't the place to go for a careful analysis of Texas and/or its (putative) impact on the nation. Certainly the Board of Education impact on textbooks is accurate, I'll give her that. But apart from that, this is just a series of cheap shots written in a hokey-jokey style that I found extremely irritating. Texas may be an extreme example of libertarian excess, but that tendency has been broadly characteristic of much of the US since the late 18th century. I just found this book to be embarrassingly shallow ("embarrassingly" because I'd like to have seen a good analysis of what's wrong with Texas). At the end I had a visceral sensation of having eaten too much cheap candy.
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Much of the information in this book is useful. The research is sound. Some of the conclusions, the relationship between the concept of open space and political ideology, the role that Texas plays in setting the national agenda, are interesting if not completely developed. The writing is poor - choppy, repetitive, simplistic. I wouldn't bother.
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