A book that could give a powerful shot in the arm to Kirkpatrick Sales' disputed theory of the rise of ""southern rim"" politics. JB Saunders, the subject of Scott's fulsome panegyric, began his steely-eyed ascent in the Oklahoma crude oil boom of the Twenties, beat out the Depression by price cutting and, in 1937, launched Triangle Refinefies--a cartelized distributor for Southwestern ""independents."" By 1955 he was netting a healthy $1 million per year as a pivotal figure in the Texas-Oklahoma based domestic petroleum industry--with lucrative sidelines in Houston real estate, pipelines, and oil barges. At book's end, Saunders is cultivating his ties with South Africa, fundraising for the Cowboy Hall of Fame, recoiling from the American Indian Movement, and contemplating how phony ""issues"" like pollution and overpopulation have deflected the course of American polity. Parallel to the life of this businessman's John Wayne runs a history of America's decline since the Twenties, ""the last purely free period in American life."" After that: the New Deal, the Korean retreat, the dishonouring of J. Edgar Hoover, the prostration of American in Viet Nam--disaster. The heroic mold in which Saunders is cast is in stark contrast to the sorry drift of America; Scott makes Gibbonesque allusions to the decline of Rome. The parting knell, delivered by one of JB's cronies: ""Giants live long. . . and they are brave.