Among the books I’ve read recently, two kept me turning pages past bedtime every night.
THE BIG RICH:THE RISE AND FALL OF THE GREATEST TEXAS OIL FORTUNES by Bryan Burrough traces the lives of four men directly responsible for much of the chicanery and greed that has come to characterize American capitalism. H. L. Hunt, Roy Cullen, Clint Murchison and Sid Richardson began as wildcatters looking for oil in Texas and became living examples of barely literate billionaires who consorted with European royals and middle eastern sultans. They were admirable, contemptible, lovable, and terrible in their power over lending institutions and law makers. They bought politicians, created Presidents, and fused fundamentalism and right-wing politics as it is today. Burrough covers them fairly and compassionately, always drawing back from making the story too lurid. Nevertheless, one closes the book acutely aware of how little we ordinary people ever know about how our own lives are controlled by people driven by greed and a lust for power.
SING THEM HOME by Stephanie Kallos is an engrossing sequel to her first book, Broken for You. I wish I had read Broken for You first because both books are about the same family and are set in the same small town in Nebraska. Even without the background, though, the story stands alone. I hate book reviews that give the plot of a novel, so I will only tell you that Sing Them Home picks up twenty-five years after Broken For You. The children of the first story have come home for a funeral. They have all grown up with the insecurities, fears, hopes, and personal eccentricities occasioned by the events of the first book when their mother was swept away by a tornado. Forced to face some unpleasant facts as well as some past secrets, they find the best of themselves in the rituals and inconsistances of their home town. It’s a lovely story. I liked it so much that I immediately went back to the store and bought Broken For You.