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Dallas 1963

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  328 ratings  ·  93 reviews
Winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Research NonfictionNamed one of the Top 3 JFK Books by Parade Magazine.

Named 1 of The 5 Essential Kennedy assassination books ever written by The Daily Beast.

Named one of the Top Nonfiction Books of 2013 by Kirkus Reviews.

In the months and weeks before the fateful November 22nd, 1963, Dallas was brewing with political passi...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Twelve (first published January 1st 2013)
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JFK and the Unspeakable by James W. DouglassPlausible Denial by Mark LaneKilling JFK by Lance MooreRush to Judgment by Mark LaneNexus by Larry Hancock
Best Books about JFK
6th out of 55 books — 17 voters
Killing JFK by Lance MooreJFK, Oswald, Cuba, and the Mafia by David PrattDallas 1963 by Bill MinutaglioJFK by Colin McLarenSurvivor's Guilt by Vincent Michael Palamara
President Kennedy 50th anniversary
3rd out of 11 books — 13 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,327)
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Jim
I grew up in Dallas. I was there in 1963 when John F. Kennedy was murdered on its streets. I've read extensively about the assassination, followed all the events from that day in November forward to the wildly varying conclusions that have arisen. But this book isn't about that period. It's about the three years prior to the assassination and about the social and political life of the city in which the assassination occurred. It is one of the most eye-opening things I have ever read, and it utte...more
Jason
As we are currently a month and a day (as i write this) from the 50th Anniversary of the cataclysmic events of November, 1963 I just felt that I HAD to read this one. I've always felt that the actual story of Dallas is almost as important as the story of the assassination itself. From the remove of fifty years, the story of the city of Dallas reads just as creepy and unsettling as you'd expect it to. I've heard it said by a distant acquaintance of mine that "Dallas destroyed a lot of my dreams"...more
Phil
You cannot read this book without seeing the parallels to today. Super-patriotism = tea party extremists;

a president taking us down the road to communism = a president taking us down the road to socialism. p 65

"Republicans are attacking women,and the children will probably be next." p 10. "the Lone Star state is often like a rogue nation playing by its own rules, about to secede and become its own country".

p 162 'assaults on Medicare, claiming it would create government death panels. 'a sweep...more
Mark
This book is an appalling examination of the political landscape of Dallas in the years leading up to the Kennedy assassination. Anyone looking for the roots of modern American fascism would be well advised to read this book carefully, as it describes in detail the toxic political culture that formed the breeding ground for modern Republican lunacy. The utter savagery with which the Dallas populace greeted vice presidential candidate LBJ and later U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson will seem eerily...more
Gus Breymann
Focusing on former army general Edwin A. Walker, "Dallas Morning News" publisher Ted Dealey, weird oilman H. L. Hunt, extremist Congressman Bruce Alger, and racist Baptist preacher W. A. Criswell, this is a story of political power, rabid racism, paranoia, anti-communism, ultra-right conservatism and wealth in Dallas between 1961 and 1963. There are parallels in Texas in 2013, perhaps explaining why the co-authors wrote this book in the present tense. For those of us who were in Dallas on Novemb...more
Harold Griffin
This is a book not of 1963 but of the current day: a time in which a well-spun story is more important than a fair or accurate one.

Dallas 1963 is marginally interesting insofar as it provides new details into the backgrounds of some of the colorful personalities that were prominent in Dallas at the time of the Kennedy assassination. But is it good or accurate history?

The book is written in the present tense, presumably to give it a sense of immediacy. That may have worked for John Updike in the...more
Benji
Author does a surprisingly good job of avoiding the easy comparison between now and 1963, instead allowing my own brain to make the connections. For each Walker I thought of a Ted Nugent, for each Alger I thought of Palin. Especially large in my mind was the Dealeys and their newspaper, and how that feedback loop/ echo chamber so much resembled the conservatives listening only to Fox News, Drudge Report, Pat Robinson, then being surprised that their polls were way off in the 2012 election (it's...more
Jeremy
This review is of an Advance Reading Copy.

An engaging biography of a place and a time that feels both distant and contemporary at once. The authors chronicle the leading business, media and political figures living in Dallas in the first three years of the 1960's.

As a reader, who was not yet born at the time I thought they did a remarkable job explaining the characters points of view and bringing the world to life. The politics and personalities are always accessible - even when some of the ide...more
Linster
Reading a nonfiction book, especially of a historical/political nature, in a weekend is unheard of for me. But this book grabbed me and wouldn't let go until I finished.

No, it's not a masterpiece. The book is written in present tense (most of the time) and gets confusing. I guess they tried to set it in Dallas 1963, but I found myself having to reread sections to figure that out.

That said, I am still a bit shaken after finishing the book yesterday. The parallels between then and now are strikin...more
Robert Boyd
Really good except for one weird thing--it was written in the present tense. It made for some odd reading.

Aside from this, you can see the ancestors of the Tea Party in full paranoid bloom in this book. There were the various John Birchers (and those who thought the John Birchers were too soft), as well as the "establishment" ultra-right which controlled the newspapers and much of the power structure in Dallas. They were fighting against imaginary Communist infiltrators (you know, like Eisenhowe...more
Matt Potter
Oct 13, 2013 Matt Potter rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: JFK buffs, students of 20th Century Texas right wing history
An interesting read about the Dallas social, political, and economic context in the days before the JFK assassination, including racial and religious climate, and role of General Walker and other relatively heretofore unexplored players. Some omissions in chronology, including Lee Harvey Oswald's trip to Mexico and certain factual issues, including an erroneous story that Ruby returned for Saturday services by Rabbi Silverman. Implicitly accepts full Warren Commission version of the case, but go...more
Hilary
Dallas 1963 is not a book about JFK's assassination but depicts the poisonous political and cultural climate leading up to it. The author focuses on the paranoid fear, hatred and anger of Kennedy drummed up by H.L.Hunt, world's wealthiest oil baron & reclusive bigamist; General Edwin Walker, former Army general who some say "Seven Days in May" is based on; extremist Congressman, Bruce Alger; racist, homophobic Baptist minister, W.A.Criswell and Ted Dealey, owner of "Dallas Morning News" who...more
Earl Russell
History with Shocking Parallels to Today


Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis have accomplished something that few know and that many should know. They have laid out a history preceding the assassination of John F. Kennedy that is compelling to the core and that has truly frightening parallels to today.

Perhaps more astounding, after a half century of avid reading and being a lifelong news junkie, I knew almost none of the history that came alive in Dallas 1963. Over the last half century, many of...more
Laurie
Here is an excerpt from my review: "In their new book Dallas 1963, authors Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis don't try to figure out who shot Kennedy. They don't spend time going through various conspiracy theories. Instead, this book takes an in-depth look at how the city of Dallas, some of its powerful leaders, and the 1960s culture shaped an environment that was super hostile to Kennedy and those who supported him. There was so much hatred in the city: toward African-Americans, toward Kenne...more
CJ
A pile of crap. The fact is that an avowed left-wing communist, acting alone, killed Kennedy. The right-wing haters of Kennedy in Dallas, however repugnant, did not. The authors have modern day axes to grind and use muddied up history to grind them. After reading this you'd think the Tea Party pulled the trigger. (And I think the Tea Party has its share of repugnant characters.)
Mary Frances
Not the best written book I have ever read- I found the switches from present to past tense very annoying and precious. But as an illumination into the cycles of extremity to which our nation is prone, it was riveting. I was only 11 when President Kennedy was killed, and while my later reading gave me an understanding of the political climate in those days, I really didn't get the crazy fear-driven intensity of the times 'til I read this book. And the parallels to today are so stark- right down...more
Socraticgadfly
Nothing spectacular here, and not sure if I would call this one of five essential books about the assassination, though it could surely be on the top 10.

This is a month-by-month synopsis of events and people, primarily in Dallas, that led up to the assassination, starting with Kennedy's 1960 nomination.
Carol
This is a different approach. Minutaglio and Davis examine the political and civic events that led to JFK's assassination. Beginning in 1960, we learn about the influential leaders and the crackpots who survived and thrived, creating an atmosphere of hate for the Kennedys.
Bryan
Excellent book. Well researched and well written. It also came across as being non-partisan, not an easy feat given the atmosphere in Dallas in 1963, which was definitely radical right. What is most amazing about this book is that most of the vitriol aimed at JFK sounds almost word for word like the hate currently being spewed at Obama by the far right. It seems like the political scene really never changes much. This is a must read for anyone with an interest in the political climate in Dallas...more
Michele Weiner
Unspeakable and too like today to be comfortable reading. JFK fell several votes short of passing Medicare. He federalized the National Guard reluctantly to protect James Meredith. For these and other reasons, the right wing nuts were stirred up to an extent that is familiar to anybody who follows the news today. Lyndon and Lady Byrd Johnson were spit at in a downtown Dallas hotel by ladies of the upper classes in white gloves, hats and luncheon suits. Adlai Stevenson was beaned by a woman with...more
Mark
Despite the title. Dallas 1963 is not another conspiracy book about the JFK assassination. It takes as a given that Oswald killed Kennedy but suggests that it could just as easily been done at the behest of any number of Dallas's leading citizens. As someone in the book stated, the haters in Dallas were not in the majority but they had grabbed the microphone and yelled the loudest. There were also the richest (H.L. Hunt), the head of the largest Batist Church in the US (Criswell) and the editor...more
Linda
"Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this nation's security. In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America's leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason - or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendency with their seemingly swift and simple solut...more
Jack Palmer
A riveting account of the events in Dallas leading up to the assassination of JFK. To use a nonfiction cliché, it reads like a novel, and sometimes the fly-on-the-wall style seems to spreading fact a little thin, but it is on the whole very well done. It is startling to think of the vitriol that existed in Dallas at this time.
Fraser Sherman
A very good look at Dallas during the Kennedy years, starting in 1960 when the city's right wing realized that this Catholic, pro-integration, soft-on-communism liberal (JFK was actually a dedicated Cold Warrior but for the right wing he wasn't dedicated enough) might be the next president. The authors do a great job capturing the city's mix of right-wing political paranoia, business ambitions (concerns about Dallas' image and its ability to attract business were never far from people's minds) a...more
Jeff

Dallas 1963 was not a shocking book in regards to the information, we have all heard much of the material in other outlets. That said, the sheer volume was overwhelming. The hatred, the amazing levels of right wing hatred emanating from Dallas, Texas in the early sixties toward any perceived threat to practices valued by the Citizens Council is shocking.

Minutaglio and Davis choose a good course of action by not focusing on 1963 and the specific events of the assassination, rather he takes on a...more
Mack
An excellent piece of investigative, historical journalism. Minutaglio's punchy prose reads like the best pulp thrillers. Not another played out conspiracy tome, but a deep mediation on the psychological motivations of the key players and supporting cast of post-War America's first media-saturated, generation defining tragedy. At times an uncomfortable look at a particularly American form of psychosis, as menacing and as widespread and deep rooted in our modern cultural landscape as it was in th...more
Kim
While the background information on the political and racial climate in early 1960's Dallas is interesting and somewhat germane, I had problems with this book. First of all, the authors merely paraphrase William Manchester's Death of a President in the description of JFK's activities during the Texas trip. Secondly, assumptions that parrot the highly-discredited Warren Commission pepper the narrative in regard to Oswald and Ruby. I was disappointed overall beyond the fore mentioned background re...more
Jenni V.
Fascinating. By focusing on the dynamics of Dallas and including so much backstory (a more accurate title would be "Dallas 1960-1963"), it took an unexpectedly different approach to the events leading to the assassination of President Kennedy.

It was full of detail but not overpowering and I learned a lot of new things, including:
- Lee Harvey Oswald attempted to kill General Walker (he shot through a window and grazed him because the bullet hit a windowpane first) a few months before killing J...more
Lynn Green
I found this book very disturbing in the way the events described in it parallel our own time. Bill Minutaglio carefully describes the political and cultural atmosphere leading up to the time of John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963. JFK's election brings the darkest hatred out of many in Dallas seeing in him all their fears about the changing cultural landscape including the Civil Rights movement and the Cold War. In this way, Kennedy does for the right-wing and John Bi...more
Teresa
I found the book gripping, despite "knowing" how it would end. I had not really known about much of the right-wing infrastructure that existed in 1960, nor about the source of its funding, so there was much that I read for the first time, in this book. There was also an eye-opening exposition as to how much of what the right-wing extremists say today, or their patterns of attack, have a long, long history. It's as though they have a script from which they draw, with only minute modifications as...more
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