I might have gone with four stars if not for the format of three interlocking novellas. I would have preferred one long, fully connected story. The three novels revolve around the LBJ-like Texas governor Arthur Fenstermaker, although he is, oddly, almost a minor character in the first two novels. They focus more on the younger, less influential political players in the governor's orbit. When Fenstermaker does make an appearance, he demonstrates the raw power of the good ol' boy network of politicking. All of the novels follow the self-inflicted downward spiral of the '50s-era Austin-tatious new rich, in all their debauched and vulgar incarnations. These were people who had started out in a highly idealistic, progressive political movement. They dissolved their lofty liberal hopes for the nation in an endless wash of booze and general moral degradation.Billy Brammer was a staffer for Lyndon B. Johnson, so I have no doubt this is an accurate fictionalization of the time and place. Brammer was a fine writer with a special ability to probe the minds and hearts of characters who recognize their own weaknesses but can't seem to detach themselves from the thrill of power and the fun of being one of the beautiful people. I had some difficulty remaining sympathetic toward the characters. Somewhere around the second chapter of the third novel, I was weary of them, and bored with their faux-apologetic drunken fumbling for each other's fleshy protuberances and dangling bits. It's a credit to Brammer that he created them so convincingly, and I'm grateful to have been reminded of why I stepped away from greater involvement in politics after my own experiences with people of this ilk in college.