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Dallas 1963

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  427 ratings  ·  106 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
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 LaneOn the Trail of the Assassins by Jim GarrisonRush to Judgment by Mark LaneBest Evidence by David S. Lifton
Best Books about JFK
19th out of 66 books — 23 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 12 books — 13 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
"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
Jeff Crosby
An interesting perspective on the events and "right-wing/left-wing" strife in north Texas and the broader culture leading up to JFK's assassination on 11.22.63. The book focuses much of its narrative on some characters (Ted Dealey of the Dallas Morning News, retired General Edwin A. Walker, Republican Congressman Bruce Alger, several Dallas area civil rights leaders and others) that have not been front-and-center in other treatments I've read on this subject. There's also more background on Jack ...more
As I read this book, I kept thinking of the phrase the more things change, the more they stay the same. Racial tensions, billionaire businessman attempting to use his dollars to shape government to his wishes. and a Texas Congressman who believes this "commie" President is subverting the Constitution. 2014 you ask? No this is Dallas 1963. I have read many accounts of the assasination of President Kennedy and was aware that Dallas was a hotbed of anti-Kennedy hate, yet I had never read any histor ...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
Tom Gase
It was okay. Not really what I expecting to read about. I thought it would be more about the day John F. Kennedy was shot or at least the days up to it. This book, however, was more about the three years leading up to the Kennedy assasination and only stuff that really happens in Dallas, TX. Well researched and the story is okay, but was hoping more for conspiracy theory stuff and what happened on Nov. 22, 1963. This is not that book. I learned from this book that Dallas, at least in the early 6 ...more

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
Keith Parker
DALLAS 1963 is a finely researched account of the political climate in Dallas, TX, from 1960 until the JFK assassination in Nov 1963. The primary focus of the book is the extreme rightwing element in Dallas, including individuals like Edwin Walker and Ted Dealey. There is some coverage of civil rights activists, as well as coverage of Lee Harvey Oswald; however this is not a "who shot JFK" study. Instead it's a pretty solid and unbiased look at extremism in Dallas, which is eerily similar to pol ...more
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
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