Texas Monthly Talks with Bryan Burrough

Program: Texas Monthly Talks
Time: 7 p.m.
Date: Thursday, March 26
Also airs: Sunday, March 29, at 12:30 p.m.
Watch episodes online at klru.org/texasmonthlytalks

When Bryan Burrough set out four years ago to write a book about the legendary Texas oil dynasties, he couldn’t possbly have known how the oil business would come to dominate the national conversation for the bulk of his reporting window and, most important, at the precise moment his great tome would see print. This has been quite a time for petroleum producers and consumers, with the price per barrel shooting up to a record high and then, just as preciptously, plummeting to a depressing low. The cost of a gallon of gas likewise rose and fell, amid all the confessions of our addiction to sources of energy purchased from and controlled by friends and enemies overseas. Here in Texas, where we depend so much, arguable more than anywhere else, on the energy industry to fuel our economic engine, the level of anxiety also rose and fell in turn. And so Burrough’s just-published book, The Big Rich, could not come at a better or more interesting moment: Its subject is all that we, and everyone else, are talking about. Raised in the central Texas town of Temple, the 47-year-old had a natural affinity for his material. After graduating from the University of Missouri’s school of journalism in 1983, he worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal; during that time he co-authored one of the great business books of his day or any day, the New York Times best-seller Barbarians at the Gate, a twentieth-anniversary-edition of which was published last November. In 1992, he left the Journal for the cushier confines of Vanity Fair, where he remains a special correspondent to this day, churning out all manner of ambitious narratives – though none as compelling, perhaps, as the tale of the Cullens, the Murchisons, the Basses, and the Hunts, four families who built great fortunes in the oil business and, along the way, built the Texas we know and love.

— Evan Smith, host of Texas Monthly Talks