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Dallas 1963

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  744 Ratings  ·  147 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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Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"The past is never dead. It's not even past"
-William Faulkner

There is no shortage of books about the assassination of John F. Kennedy on that fateful day in Dallas, November 1963. What this book does however, rather than focus on the assassination, examines the three year period in Dallas that preceded it.
What we discover is a shocking litany of vitriolic newspaper editors, oilmen, far right congressmen, a disgraced general, and others who all contributed in some form or another to the toxic en
Gus Breymann
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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
Robert Boyd
Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Joseph Raffetto
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
I learned a great deal about the extremism that exploded in Dallas after John F. Kennedy was elected president. Dallas was ground zero for Kennedy hatred in 1963; it was led by the John Birch Society; a rabid military nut, General Edwin Walker; the publisher of the Dallas Morning News, Ted Dealey; the Texas oil man, H.L. Hunt; and many others.

It was also a city that attracted a strip club owner, Jack Ruby, and, of course, Lee Harvey Oswald.

This fine piece of journalism and research is a well-wri
Harold Griffin
Dec 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've read so much about the actual JFK assassination and aftermath that I feel like I have a pretty good feel for I think happened and why. But I never really read too much about the lead-up to the event and the poisonous atmosphere that was pervasive in Dallas in the early 1960's. That's exactly what this book tries to address.

After JFK's election in 1960, many of the Dallas power brokers were beside themselves. Right-wing conspiracy theories were being driven by a surprising collection of very
Earl Russell
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics-history
Couldn't put it down. To see how a group of "patriots" could lead a city into an abyss, this work is powerful. From the Hunt dynasty, General Edwin Walker, Ted Dealey, all the way down to Lee Harvey Oswald, this is an engrossing account. We all know the history. We have all heard the conspiracy theories. What this book does is gives us the atmosphere of Dallas at the time of J.F.K.'s election to its final spasm of violence against the president. As we move our way through yet another election cy ...more
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, history
This month by month history of the politics and social unrest happening in Dallas from 1960 through 1963 was a real revelation. I was in 8th grade in 1960 and wasn't paying much attention to the news or politics, so I was only vaguely aware of what was happening. After seeing the context of the time the assignation is not so "out of the blue." What is scary is that a lot of the vitriol of the '60 is seemingly repeating itself today. It is as if nothing at all has changed. Recommended for anyone ...more
Matt Potter
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it
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
C.J. Ruby
Apr 19, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: politics, history
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.)
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Think of all the hate there is in Red China!
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!
Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space,
But when your return, it's the same old place,
The poundin' of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
You can bury your dead, but don't leave a trace,
Hate your next door neighbor, but don't forget to say grace,
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

I’ve always wondered if Dallas, Texas, got a bad
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book chronicles the explosive political climate in Dallas, and rise and spread of the extreme right in the city from 1960-63. It's a fascinating work of political history that also provides some clues to how we got to where we are today.
Jan 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"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
Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: JFK fans
Shelves: audiobook
More of a History of the Dallas area during the early sixties than an investigation into the Kennedy assassination. Author gets high marks for keeping the possible political bias neutral and both sides of the aisle were examined with the same scrutiny. Nevertheless, the author reinforced my personal belief that Oswald couldn't have been the only shooter on November 22nd in his confirmed failed attempted assassination of General Walker earlier that same year. Although Oswald wasn't able to hit a ...more
Mary Frances
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Steve Fox
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Credit for suggesting this book goes to Jeannine Frazier, one of the amazing library staff members with Kent District Library and a friend. This was spot on!

This book is timely, interesting, frightening, and well presented.

I would give it 4.5 stars - but the half doesn't seem to work. And that's super high for me.
Jack Palmer
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
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.
Feb 21, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really liked this one. It focused on the local politics of Dallas Texas from about 1960 to Kennedy's assassination. How the local right wingers interacted with, and influenced the national political scene. Learned lots of stuff that I simply never knew, and would never have imagined in a zillion years. Things were crazy and violent. Not just civil rights stuff (I do know that's always been violent), but these Texas guys were just so far over the line. And again, the lesson is that nothing ever ...more
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