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Cronies: How Texas Business Became American Policy-- and Brought Bush to Power Paperback – Jun 15 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Public Affairs; New edition edition (June 15 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586483374
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586483371
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.4 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,701,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Robert Bryce's work has appeared in the The New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Austin Chronicle and Texas Observer. His first book, Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron, was named one of the best books of 2002 by Publishers Weekly and several other newspapers and magazines. He lives in Austin.

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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
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 June 29 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am a history buff and this is the most interesting book I have ever read! I was a Vietnam Helicopter Pilot, a Helicopter Instructor Pilot in Iran for Bell Helicopter International and I spent 12 years flying the oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico. So this book has a personal interest to me beyond the average reader.
Through my decades of reading history,I know that what appears on the surface is not indicative of what is really going on. Therefore I feel THIS BOOK SHOULD BE READ BY EVERYONE BEFORE November and THE "DECISION IN 2004". We should all know who and what we are really voting for!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
March of the Mercantilists Sept. 6 2004
By Andrew S. Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
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 "The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)," and you come up with an especially unsavory look at America's 50-plus year run of hand-over-first mercantilism.

My use of the term "mercantilism" is deliberate, because one complaint I do have about this book -- as I did with Michael Mann's "Incoherent Empire" -- is the author's apparent assumption that what he's describing is "capitalism." Toward the end of the book, he mentions, apparently without irony, "laissez-faire Texas Republicans" like DeLay and President Bush, even though he's just spent the previous 270 pages showing that their economic philosophy is anything *but* "leave us alone." The conscious crafting of government policy that deliberately promotes the interests of a certain sector of the economy has a name, and it ain't capitalism. It's "mercantilism." A little more precision here would have gone a long way in categorizing the true nature of everything he otherwise ties together so well.

As Lind's and other books show, Texas is a sweet target these days. I'm not convinced that the oil business is necessarily unique in the kinds of power and influence it has managed to acquire in government (for example, I recommend Linda Chavez's new "Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics" to show how liberal Democrats have been bought and paid for by Big Labor -- and Bryce should enjoy a use of Scare Caps almost as copious as his own). But even pro-Bush, pro-business Republicans ought to take a good look at the vines that have been growing up around our republic and ask whether this is really the kind of thing the Founders had in mind.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
When in doubt, follow the money. July 10 2004
By V. I. Scherb - Published on Amazon.com
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. The Bushes, Baker, Cheney, and Lay, among others, do not come off well in this book, but what separates this book from most others that have taken the current administration to task is its willingness to explore a wider culture--really an East Texas culture centered in Houston--and examine its disproportionate and frightening effects on the U.S., the Middle East, and--indeed--the whole wide world.
Although it has a fair amount of history that might scare the casual reader, the book largely avoids being a dry academic tome, by including maps, photos, summaries (as well as adequate notes and a bibliography), that help keep the fairly complex relationships clear. Although it is not stated, the book provides evidence that make a powerful argument for greater government transparency, and for greater vigilance on the public's part in monitoring the relations between government and business (we certainly can't trust the politicians to do it). Highly recommended for Texans, Americans, and indeed anyone who is interested in business, government, and the political process. Certainly, the book proves the old adage: when you aren't certain what's going on, just follow the money.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Yeehaw! July 12 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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!"
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Insight Aug. 5 2004
By G. Blue - Published on Amazon.com
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.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This is a Must Read! Aug. 4 2004
By maas8 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I'm not normally a big reader of either business (they tend to be boring) or political books (they tend towards the hysterical... and I don't mean funny). I picked up Cronies because I loved this author's amusing (yes funny) yet informative book, Pipe Dreams, about the implosion of Enron. I was curious to see what an author who could make a page-turner out of the Enron scandal could do with the ripe-for-humor landscape of American politics. And Cronies did not disappoint. Written with a wry and engaging tone the revelations in Cronies are, however, anything but funny. This book masterfully weaves together the ways in which Texas oil, Texas money, and Texas power have influenced American politics yesterday, today and if we're not careful, tomorrow.

Call me naïve, but I was surprised (okay, shocked) at the conflicts of interest running rampant from top down in the Bush Administration. Of course, not every appearance of impropriety amounts to an actual conflict of interest but, as Bryce points out, the extreme secrecy employed by the Administration to keep We The People from judging whether there is a conflict of interest or not is disturbing. For example, James Baker III is both the "Iraq debt czar" and also deemed exempt by the White House from publicly disclosing the specifics of his business dealings -- known to include vast oil interests. Through well documented research and citing numerous examples, Cronies demonstrates how the lines between Government, Military and Private (Oil) Industry are becoming increasingly blurred... so much so that we're left wondering who really is benefiting from current US foreign/oil policies. But we're not really left wondering... Bryce explains it: this is government by a few for a few.


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