When Ann Richards delivered the keynote of the 1988 Democratic National Convention and mocked President George H. W. Bush—”Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth”—she instantly became a media celebrity and triggered a rivalry that would alter the course of American history. In 1990, Richards won the governorship of Texas, upsetting the GOP’s colorful rancher and oilman Clayton Williams. The first ardent feminist elected to high office in America, she opened up public service to women, blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans, gays, and the disabled. Her progressive achievements and the force of her personality created a lasting legacy that far transcends her rise and fall as governor of Texas.
In Let the People In, Jan Reid draws on his long friendship with Richards, interviews with her family and many of her closest associates, her unpublished correspondence with longtime companion Bud Shrake, and extensive research to tell a very personal, human story of Ann Richards’s remarkable rise to power as a liberal Democrat in a conservative Republican state. Reid traces the whole arc of Richards’s life, beginning with her youth in Waco, her marriage to attorney David Richards, her frustration and boredom with being a young housewife and mother in Dallas, and her shocking encounters with Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter. He follows Richards to Austin and the wild 1970s scene and describes her painful but successful struggle against alcoholism. He tells the full, inside story of Richards’s rise from county office and the state treasurer’s office to the governorship, where she championed gun control, prison reform, environmental protection, and school finance reform, and he explains why she lost her reelection bid to George W. Bush, which evened his family’s score and launched him toward the presidency. Reid describes Richards’s final years as a world traveler, lobbyist, public speaker, and mentor and inspiration to office holders, including Hillary Clinton. His nuanced portrait reveals a complex woman who battled her own frailties and a good-old-boy establishment to claim a place on the national political stage and prove “what can happen in government if we simply open the doors and let the people in.”
About Jan Reid
JAN REID is a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly and has contributed to Esquire, GQ, Slate, Men’s Journal, Garden & Gun, and the New York Times. His novel Comanche Sundown was honored as 2011 fiction of the year by the Texas Institute of Letters. Forthcoming in October 2012 is his political biography Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards. His other much-praised books include The Bullet Meant for Me, The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, Rio Grande, and Texas Tornado: The Times & Music of Doug Sahm, an Oxford Magazine Music Book of the Year in 2010.
Book review: ‘Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards’ by Jan Reid
The Washington Post Book Review – October 12, 2012 (Excerpt)
The best-known politicians from Texas in recent years have been such icons of conservatism that it’s almost startling to be reminded that, before 12 years of Rick Perry and four of George W. Bush, the state had a governor who was not only a Democrat but a progressive, and a popular one at that. And a grandmother. And a recovering alcoholic.
Her name was Ann Richards, and if she is remembered at all outside Texas, it is probably for a line she delivered about the 1988 Republican presidential candidate, the elder George Bush, as the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention that year. “Poor George,” she quipped. “He can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”
But Richards, as Texas Monthly writer at large Jan Reid demonstrates in his savvy new biography, “Let the People In,” was more than the sharp-tongued granny she often played for the national press. She was among the first ardent feminists to gain high office, and for a time in the early 1990s, she was mentioned as a presidential candidate. But as fate would have it, Richards fell almost as quickly as she rose, swamped by the rising tide of Texas conservatism. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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