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Cronies: Oil, The Bushes, And The Rise Of Texas, America's Superstate Hardcover – May 25, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Bryce, whose previous book, Pipe Dreams, chronicled the rise and fall of Enron, now recounts how Texas rose over the past 60 years on a tide of oil to become the pre-eminent focus of American economic and political power. Bryce quickly sketches the emergence of the modern energy industry with the discovery of huge oil deposits in East Texas. He then turns to his central story, how Texas-based business empires like Exxon Mobil, Hunt Oil, Halliburton, and Baker Botts, the firm of James Baker III, have heavily promoted the careers of favored politicians going back to Lyndon Johnson. In return, Bryce shows, the oil industry and its tributaries have received lucrative government contracts, favorable tax treatment and kid-glove regulatory policies. Although Bryce devotes chapters to LBJ and his protégé, Democrat-turned-Republican John Connally, he reserves his special wrath for conservative Republicans like Dick Cheney, Tom DeLay, James Baker and especially the Bushes. He contends that the market-shaping power of Texas oil inspired the creation of OPEC, and that generations of politicians, led by the Bushes, have tailored U.S. foreign policy to cater to Arab dictators and the Texas firms that serve them. There's little in Bryce's book that is freshly revelatory, and his prose is sometimes awkward, sometimes clichéd ("lap of luxury," "spending money like a drunken sailor," etc.). But in this election year, partisans looking for evidence of Republican corruption will find plenty of tidbits here.
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"A well-told tale whose sheer, documented scope of corruption and backslapping...will have readers agog..." -- Kirkus, April 1, 2004

"Bryce has marshaled an impressive, foot-noted fact base to support his disturbing accusation that Iraq is about oil." -- The Buffalo News, July 11, 2004

"Bryce is a knowledgeable guide through mazes of Texas-centered financial transactions that are almost never in the public interest." -- The Kansas City Star, August 1, 2004

"In this election year, partisans looking for evidence of Republican corruption will find plenty of tidbits here." -- Publishers Weekly, April 12, 2004

"Thoroughly researched and documented ... [shows] how our American political system has been thoroughly perverted by plunderers and special-interest groups." -- King Features Syndicate/West Sacramento News-Ledger, July 7, 2004

"[Bryce's] writing style makes for easy reading but his message is very disturbing." -- Creative Loafing, July 21, 2004

"a highly readable and believable narrative... Tidbits throughout the book... make it an intriguing read." -- Sacramento Bee, July 4, 2004

"cogently presented ... hard to ignore... a plaintive pleas for an America that comes closer to its most cherished ideals." -- Dallas Morning News, July 11, 2004

"thesis-driven ... a poke ... to conservatives ... red meat for ... liberals with a slightly paranoid ... [view] on American politics." -- Houston Chronicle, July 23, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (May 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586481886
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586481889
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,425,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on September 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
At first, I feared this book would be the 2004 winner of the Michael Lind Prize for Progressive Texans Dissing Texas. But "Cronies" didn't turn out like Lind's comically tendentious "Made In Texas: George W. Bush And The Southern Takeover Of American Politics (New America Books)" at all. Instead, Robert Bryce has assembled a pile of puzzle pieces in a way that not only makes a lot of sense, but that forms a picture the American electorate needs to see. As much as it pains me to agree with Molly Ivins about anything at all, this is excellent investigative reporting.

Bryce has gone back into the history of the Texas awl bidness and shown how, from the beginning, key players in that industry have cultivated their connections with politicians to increase their own wealth and power. Many Texas politicians, from LBJ and Sam Rayburn to Jim Wright, Tom DeLay, and a whole mess of Bushes, have been more than happy to be so cultivated, since it tends to result in floods of cash into their re-election campaigns, foundations, and presidential libraries. Though Bryce is far from the only writer shining a spotlight on Halliburton and Brown & Root these days, his work is among the best charting the complex web of ties between politics, the military, big business, and foreign policy. Combine all this incestuous intermingling with the international entanglements described in Chalmers Johnson's "
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Format: Hardcover
Having already written on the Enron scandal, Robert Byrce is highly qualified to explore the growth of frighteningly close relations between energy companies and state and national government. Providing more depth and context than most exposures of government corruption, Bryce traces these relationships back to the East Texas Oil Wars of the 1930s, as he finds disturbing precedents for current global policy in then-govenor Ross Sterling's actions and the ascendancy of the Texas Railroad Commission. For me, having spent the last twelve years in Texas, the book was revelatory, exposing how the cultural background, greed, and personal relationships of Texas polticians, oilmen, and military contractors have been an important force in American politics for much of the twentieth century and how they now effectually dominate it. A long history of government tax breaks and subsidies for big energy donors tell a sorry tale that spares neither Democrats nor Republicans, and all the while the environment gets destroyed, most taxpayers get shafted deeper than the Daisy Bradford no. 3, social services and civil liberties get curtailed, and blankets of government secrecy "in the national interest" just continue to grow and grow. One of the most fascinating of many gripping chapters is on the Savings and Loan scandal of the eighties, a scandal that demonstrates how easily and cynically politics can be manipulated for the benefit of the powerful. Deregulation is a dangerous business, but not if you know the right people, and some of the people who make the most noise about the necessity of a free market have already (along with their cronies) rigged the game.Read more ›
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By A Customer on July 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Very well done! This book shines the spotlight on perhaps the largest, most influential power cabal in the country, and possibly the world. If you were ever curious about why so many Texas based corporations loom so large within the sphere of US government, particularly from the 1930's to the present, this book will provide you with the answers. The literal melding of private defense related corporations into the government has produced a cash bonanza that has created billionaires who now get to determine the most critical aspects of US government policy. The author examines the rise of companies like Halliburton and Brown & Root, as well as the numerous oil companies, law firms, and political crony networks that provide the cash and clout to maintain the Texas based plutocracy which holds significant control over the rest of the country. Among other things, Bryce explores connections between the crony network and the Savings & Loan scandal, oil politics of the Middle East, both Presidents Bush, President Johnson, various congressional legislators, Enron, James Baker, Dick Cheney, and the usual cast of big oilmen. This book is for anyone who wants to know who holds the real power in this country, and how it got that way. This one should come with a bright red label that says "READ BEFORE THE ELECTION!"
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Format: Hardcover
A very well written and documented account of how the Texas Oil and Defense Industry have developed throughout history. A must read for anyone interested in how the U.S. and its policies, and in particular Texas business and businessmen, have contributed to our current geo-political environment with respect to the Middle East and OPEC. This book details many years of influence and power struggles which have created our government's policies to control the world's oil and the oil economies.
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