Let the People In

[ Regional/Texas ]

Let the People In

The Life and Times of Ann Richards

By Jan Reid

Drawing on more than 100 interviews with Ann Richards’s friends and associates and her private correspondence, Let the People In offers a nuanced, fully realized portrait of the first feminist elected to high office in America and one of the most fascinating women in our political history.

October 2012

$27.00$18.09

33% website discount price

Hardcover

6.125 x 9.25 | 495 pp. | 68 b&w photos

ISBN: 978-0-292-71964-4

$16.95$11.36

33% website discount price

Paperback

6.125 x 9.25 | 495 pp. | 68 b&w photos

ISBN: 978-0-292-75449-2

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Jan Reid draws on his long friendship with Richards, interviews with her family and many of her closest associates, her unpublished correspondence with longtime companion Bud Shrake, and extensive research to tell a very personal, human story of Ann Richards’s remarkable rise to power as a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.”

  • Acknowledgments
    • Prologue: Glimpses
  • Part I: Gardens of Light
    • Chapter 1: Waco
    • Chapter 2: New Frontiers
    • Chapter 3: Lovers Lane
    • Chapter 4: Mad Dogs and First Fridays
    • Chapter 5: The Hanukkah Chicken
  • Part II: Superwoman's Chair
    • Chapter 6: Problem Lady
    • Chapter 7: Landslides
    • Chapter 8: Raw Deals
    • Chapter 9: Capsized
    • Chapter 10: The Class of '82
    • Chapter 11: Raise Money and Wait
    • Chapter 12: Cheap Help
  • Part III: Only in Texas
    • Chapter 13: Poker Faces
    • Chapter 14: The Speech
    • Chapter 15: Dispatches
    • Chapter 16: Backyard Brawl
    • Chapter 17: Answer the Question
    • Chapter 18: Bustin' Rocks
    • Chapter 19: The Rodeo
  • Part IV: The Parabola
    • Chapter 20: The New Texas
    • Chapter 21: Fast Start
    • Chapter 22: Ethicists
    • Chapter 23: Odd Couples
    • Chapter 24: Favorables
    • Chapter 25: White Hot
    • Chapter 26: Heartaches by the Number
    • Chapter 27: Troubles by the Score
    • Chapter 28: Sass
    • Chapter 29: Collision Course
    • Chapter 30: Queen Bee
  • Epilogue: Passages
    • Notes
    • Photo Credits
    • Index

By Jan Reid

Jan Reid has written for Texas Monthly, Esquire, GQ, Slate, Men’s Journal, Garden & Gun, the New York Times, and many other publications. His books include The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, The Bullet Meant for Me, Rio Grande, Texas Tornado: The Times and Music of Doug Sahm, and two award-winning novels, Deerinwater and Comanche Sundown. He lives in Austin, Texas.

“Jan Reid gives us new insight into Ann Richards, whose wit filled any room with laughter, whose candor chased away every smoke screen, whose heart was as big as Texas. Governor Richards was a leader you wanted to follow to a world where everyone could be a winner, and she never stopped trying to take us there. I loved her and so will you.”
―President Bill Clinton

“I always felt that knowing Ann Richards was a bit like knowing a rock star. Jan Reid’s addition to the literature, myth, and reality about Ann is a great read for Ann’s fans and foes alike. I was sorry when we lost the great Ann Richards. I was sad when I closed this compelling book.”
―Liz Smith

“At once a compelling, touching tale of a remarkable woman and an insightful account of the decline of Texas liberalism. Jan Reid captures the spirit, accomplishments, and failures of Ann Richards wonderfully well. One of the best books on Texas politics in years.”
―H. W. Brands

“We can surely credit Reid for keeping alive Richards's swagger and humor…It’s during such deliciously self-effacing spouts when she’s punking her over-seriousness—some might recall her Doritos commercial with the likewise ousted New York governor Mario Cuomo during the 1995 Super Bowl—that Richards, and her biographer, shine.
―Thomas Larson, Oxford American Magazine

Carr P. Collins Award for Best Book of Non-Fiction, The Texas Institute of Letters

Liz Carpenter Award for Research in the History of Women, Texas State Historical Association

AAUP Book and Jacket Show:Trade Typographic Book

Coral Horton Tullis Memorial Prize

New York Book Show Design Awards: General Trade, Hardcover Nonfiction

Reid, Let the People In

Jan Reid describes his Ann Richards biography.
Series: The University of Texas Press Podcasts

Author: University of Texas Press | Date: Tuesday, 09 October 2012 | Duration: 16:27

Drawing on more than 100 interviews with Ann Richards’s friends and associates and her private correspondence, Let the People In offers a nuanced, fully realized portrait of the first feminist elected to high office in America and one of the most fascinating women in our political history.

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