cover image As Texas Goes…: 
How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda

As Texas Goes…: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda

Gail Collins. Norton/Liveright, $25.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-871-40407-7

The outsized influence of the union’s largest state is decried in this by turns amused and appalled study of Texas’s government and its discontents. New York Times columnist Collins (When Everything Changed) revels in the state’s 10-gallon self-regard, Alamo-inspired cult of suicidal last stands, and eccentric right-wing pols. But the upshot of all that, she argues, is a disastrous model of public policy that inspired the Republican Party’s national platform: a rickety economic boom based on insecure, poverty-level jobs and massive state incentives to corporations; financial deregulation that led to banking meltdowns; a raft of ill-advised education nostrums, from the prototype of the No Child Left Behind Act to abstinence-only sex-ed programs and textbook guidelines that frown on evolution; skimpy public services, high rates of poverty and inequality, and low rates of health coverage and graduation. Collins’s book is really an indictment of what she calls America’s “empty-places” creed—the rural conservative populism that favors small government, low taxes, and lax regulation—through a takedown of its colorful epicenter. Much like the late Texas dissident Molly Ivins, she slathers plenty of wry humor onto a critique that stings like a red-hot brand. Agent: Alice Martell. (June)