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78 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent look at Dallas, 1963...
Let me begin my review by stressing "Dallas 1963" has nothing in it about "who shot Kennedy". No conspiracy theories in the book at all; it is totally about the mood and politics in the city of Dallas from 1959 to 1963. So readers looking for a "who shot JFK" book should look elsewhere. This is the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination and there are many books...
Published 15 months ago by Jill Meyer

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Selective minutiae does not a big picture paint
For all the hype over this book, it is a pretty shallow, one dimensional portrait of Dallas. I am not a fan of that city, but when I read serious books about it I expect a more systematic presentation of evidence followed by thoughtful hypotheses and conclusions. Instead, "Dallas 1963" presents a series of vignettes organized solely by time. Without question,...
Published 10 months ago by Michael S. McGill


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78 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent look at Dallas, 1963..., October 9, 2013
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This review is from: Dallas 1963 (Hardcover)
Let me begin my review by stressing "Dallas 1963" has nothing in it about "who shot Kennedy". No conspiracy theories in the book at all; it is totally about the mood and politics in the city of Dallas from 1959 to 1963. So readers looking for a "who shot JFK" book should look elsewhere. This is the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination and there are many books being published on "who".

Authors Bill Minutaglio and Steven L Davis have written a brilliant book about how the politics of extremism (mostly from the Right) found a home and flourished in the early 1960's Dallas. Men like General Edwin A Walker, Congressman Bruce Alger, WA Criswell, and HL Hunt - all well-known - teamed up with lesser-known men (and women) to bring the scare tactics of the Right Wing to full flower in Dallas. They were helped along by newspaper editor Ted Dealey (ironically, Kennedy was gunned down in Dealey Plaza) whose "Dallas Morning News" was often filled with vitriol towards Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson, Eisenhower, Eleanor Roosevelt, and others in public life who Dealey and his paper didn't "trust" to stay true to the United States Constitution and protect America from the Communist masses. The John Birch Society and Young Americans for Freedom were only two of the many groups active in the fertile ground of Dallas political paranoia.Of course, also in Dallas were elements of the Left.

The city had been the site of rabid demonstrations against Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson during the presidential campaign in 1960 when mink-wrapped women surrounded the two in a very ugly mob. Then a few months before Kennedy came to Texas in 1963, Adlai Stevenson had been spat upon and hit by a hand-held sign when he spoke about the United Nations. The Kennedy administration was fearful in the days preceding the President's trip to Texas.

But the perceived "Left" wasn't the only faction under fire. There was an assassination attempt against retired general Edwin Walker, who was active in anti-black, anti-Semitic, and anti-Communist groups in the Spring of 1963. The gunman was never caught... So there was plenty of hate in Dallas to welcome John Kennedy to Dallas when he visited in November, 1963. However, the warm welcome the Kennedys received on their arrival and in the streets the motorcade traveled belied the small-but-vocal hate expressed in the press and in political rallies.

Reading "Dallas 1963" is almost like looking at the political world today. Fear of the "alien" and "the other" has replaced the fear of world-wide domination by Communism. The color pink has been replaced by the color white-for-Muslim today but the scare tactics haven't changed and neither have the words on the placards and internet sites attesting to that hate in the world. I wish the world was not such a scary place to these people to inspire the hate they spread.

Minutaglio and Davis give a brilliant view of the politics and the players in Dallas and elsewhere in the early 1960's. The same players came together on one jarring day in November, 1963. This is one book out of many coming out his year that is truly worth reading.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really paints the picture..., October 9, 2013
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This review is from: Dallas 1963 (Hardcover)
It's frightening what an unhinged place Dallas was at the time leading up to the JFK assassination. This book really gives the context of people, culture, racism, in a way that is lively and readable. If you want dry history, or some bizarre theory twist, don't get this book. If you want to be pulled into a gripping story that makes the people REAL and also makes you want to take a deep breath....
Highly recommended.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A journaistic portrayal of the times, their leaders and their moral that might shock modern readers, October 15, 2013
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Bookreporter (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dallas 1963 (Hardcover)
It was a game changer, a world changer. In November 1963, a man was killed. Any American adult alive on that day will remember where he or she was when the shocking news blasted through the thin media airwaves of those less complicated times: “A tragic thing has happened…in the city of Dallas.” President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

DALLAS 1963 by Bill Minutaglio (CITY ON FIRE, FIRST SON) and Steven L. Davis (TEXAS LITERARY OUTLAWS, J. FRANK DOBIE) examines the personality of the city of Dallas and the many cross-currents that defined it, looking at some famous or notorious citizens and their outspoken, often violent agendas. Kennedy campaigned there in 1960 and three years later returned to “the stronghold of Republicanism in Texas,” the home base of Rev. W. A. Criswell, a virulent racist who considered civil rights activists to be “a bunch of infidels”; where far-right billionaire H. L. Hunt openly espoused a utopian view that would deny voting rights to all but the wealthiest. There was Ted Dealey of The Dallas Morning News, who saw the nation slipping toward socialism, led by Kennedy and his ilk. The authors depict Dallas as a city “willed into existence by creative, nimble entrepreneurs,” a hotbed of the KKK, a city that kept its troubles bottled up, under control, until Kennedy came to visit. Then all hell broke loose.

The book begins in 1959, when “Nikita Khrushchev can’t get into Disneyland,” and the opposition to racial integration was seen as a last stand against an evil epidemic that included social ills from “Social Security to fluoridated water to membership in the United Nations.” Many in Dallas, like General Edwin Walker, believed that civil rights activists were the new enemy within. Month by month and year by year, we feel the tensions building in the city, while way behind the scenes, totally unsuspected, we see Lee Harvey Oswald, a twisted little man trying to provoke a new revolution.

The hate speech mounted preceding the Kennedy visit. This included a full-page ad in the morning paper denouncing the President and fatefully edged in black, the radio broadcasts of H. L. Hunt’s warning that if socialism were to prevail, “You would not be able to celebrate any holiday of freedom,” and even “Wanted” posters describing Kennedy as a traitor who was selling the country out to Communists and Anti-Christians. Even so, Jack and Jackie, riding through the city in a well-guarded motorcade, were pleased and surprised to see how apparently welcoming the crowds were that lined their route.

Created neither to praise or bury Dallas, nor to address the many conspiracy theories that have mushroomed over the years since Kennedy’s violent demise, DALLAS 1963 is a journalistic portrait of the leaders, the times and the morals that will shock many, especially the current generation of Americans who have grown up in a gentler, more tolerant social climate. It has been 50 years since those fateful events in Dallas, and much has changed. Going back in memory through objective eyes may help us see those changes more clearly and be grateful.

Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't put this book down..., November 5, 2013
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This review is from: Dallas 1963 (Hardcover)
This book reads like a page turner historical novel. But it is all history and no novel!

1963 is a bit before my time. I bought this book intrigued by the story of the mink coat rebellion that took place as JFK/Johnson campaigned in Dallas. But the parallels between this era and current era are uncanny. Today's big money is from the Koch brothers. Then, it was Hunt. Today, the Tea Party. Then, it was Birch Society. Today, Sarah Palin. Then, General Walker. Today, Fox News. Then, Dallas Morning News.

But the Republican hatred of liberal/socialist/communist (they are all the same right?) hasn't changed a bit. I guess I didn't appreciate that the Republicans hated President Kennedy then, as much as President Obama today. Fascinating story. Great structure and flow. Reads like a page turner historical novel. But it is all history and no novel!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, October 17, 2013
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This review is from: Dallas 1963 (Kindle Edition)
Fantastic book. I live in the Dallas area and plenty of this book's description of feelings and political views in this area still apply 50 years later.
Sad, but true.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinated AND appalled!, November 1, 2013
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This review is from: Dallas 1963 (Kindle Edition)
I remember so vividly when the assassination happened...it seems like it was just a couple of years ago instead of fifty! I learned so much from reading this book. I had no idea of the level of hatred there was in the city of Dallas (and the state of Texas) toward the President. This book is very well researched, with a high level of references.

If you are too young to remember this horrible event, this book will take you there in vivid detail. I highly recommend it.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, October 16, 2013
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This review is from: Dallas 1963 (Kindle Edition)
Although this book is utterly factual, it is riveting. Many parallels (some quite frightening) to today's politics, and a lesson of history. We will always have fanatics and haters, often disguised as patriots and defenders. Very thought provoking. I know I will be turning it over in y mind for a long time.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Selective minutiae does not a big picture paint, March 25, 2014
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This review is from: Dallas 1963 (Hardcover)
For all the hype over this book, it is a pretty shallow, one dimensional portrait of Dallas. I am not a fan of that city, but when I read serious books about it I expect a more systematic presentation of evidence followed by thoughtful hypotheses and conclusions. Instead, "Dallas 1963" presents a series of vignettes organized solely by time. Without question, it portrays some pretty extreme, scary people and makes the case that they both exemplified and helped cause the right wing paranoia that gripped the city in the early 1960s. But it by no means presents a full portrait of the community.

If Dallas was so universally and vehemently anti-JFK, then how come there was such a massive outpouring of support for him during his parade through the city preceding his assassination? Where did that support originate, and what encouraged it?

Any diligent researcher could paint a similarly negative portrait of any major American city using the approach that these authors take. There are unique aspects about how Dallas functioned in the post-WWII era that contributed greatly to its prosperity and problems. A good starting point for these factors is contained in "Dallas Public & Private" by Warren Leslie.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promising but ultimately disappointing, November 15, 2013
This review is from: Dallas 1963 (Hardcover)
I was so disappointed in this book. I grew up in the Dallas area, and my father was actually a high school student in Dallas when Kennedy was shot. I thought that this book would shed some light onto the political climate in my home city. The book does do this... a little. I think that the style was perhaps what turned me off about the book. The authors write in the present but passive voice and suggest the emotional state of many key players. While I believe that it is possible to know an historical actor's emotional state from the primary sources they leave behind, I do not appreciate authors that narrate history as though they are inside the heads of players.

Likewise, the book shifts rapidly between different, unrelated politicians, activists, pastors, etc. This contributes to the book's overall meditative tone, but also leaves the story feeling disjointed. It's possible that was the intent-- to suggest that the past is unknowable and that, ultimately, the Kennedy assassination is a tragic confluence of a bunch of unrelated people and political ideologies. However, the refusal to provide some kind of coherent narrative structure beyond chronology was deeply frustrating for me as a reader.

For folks interested in Dallas, the book is worth reading-- the authors explain the city's unique political and social climate in the 1960s (traces of which are, I think, still around today). However, if you're interested in how political ideologies can generate violence or an extended discussion of Oswald and Ruby, two otherwise unremarkable men who seared themselves into American history, you'll want to look elsewhere.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Timely Reading, November 2, 2013
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This review is from: Dallas 1963 (Kindle Edition)
I lived in Dallas in the 1980's. The city was still wrestling with the fallout from the Kennedy assasination even then. There was still evidence of the 'conservative' social and political attitudes that were evident in the 1950's and 1960's. I had heard all the theories about the assasination. When I heard a review of this book and realized it was NOT about all of the assasination theories it piqued my interest. I never realized the toxic nature of the activities going on in Dallas leading up to November 1963. This book gives a very interesting perspective on the social and political climate at the time.
It appears to be well researched. But,at the same time the material is presented in such a way that the reader does not get bogged down in the details.
This book is an even more timely read now given the political and social condition of the U.S. today.
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Dallas 1963
Dallas 1963 by Bill Minutaglio (Hardcover - October 8, 2013)
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