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Showing 1-10 of 105 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 156 reviews
on February 6, 2014
I was an impressionable 15-year-old when President Kennedy was assassinated, so the content and sequence of events of this story are part of my life. When I first went to Dallas on a business trip in 1978, I drove immediately to Dealey Plaza; it was like a pilgrimage. Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down.

I spent the better part of the 1980s traveling dozens of times to Dallas and it became one of my favorite cities; dynamic, prosperous, courteous, and proud of itself in a way I didn't find offensive. I was surprised when a business friend of mine there said he thought Dallas was just then coming out of its shame over the assassination; I didn't understand what he was saying.

But after reading Bill Minutaglio's story I now know what he was trying to explain. I remembered, of course, the story of the "Wanted for Treason" flyer, and the attack on Adlai Stevenson a few weeks before the assassination. But these were snippets of information that got lost to me in the overwhelming amount of news and emotion surrounding this event.

So Minutaglio puts these snippets into perspective as part of a seething hatred of the Kennedy's and a distain for the Federal government that were deeply embedded in much of the Dallas culture at the time. This included open hostility and disrespect from Ted Dealey, the owner of the "Dallas Morning News". It included virulent anti-Catholic rants from W.A. Creswell, Senior Pastor of Dallas's First Baptist Church, the largest all-white (this was 1963) Baptist church in the country. And it included H.L. Hunt, one of the wealthiest men in the world and an ultra-conservative bigot.

In a recent YouTube interview with Minutaglio, who is a Dallas native, he says he thinks things have changed and Dallas is a far different city today. My own assessment of Dallas in the 1980s was very positive, so I'm sure things have indeed changed.

But I confess at the same time to be taken aback when the Governor of Texas claims (in 2012) that Texas uniquely has the right to secede from the U.S. if it wants to; or to hear the junior senator from Texas wonder aloud if the nominee for Secretary of Defense (Chuck Hagel) might have received secret payments from the government of North Korea (2013); or to hear some of the utterly senseless, and often hateful, assertions from Texas's Representative from its 1st District, a guy named Louie Gohmert.

Sometimes it's easiest to just let these things slide and concede that politics is a rough business. But Minutaglio's riveting story behind the story of the Kennedy assassination reminds us that these irrational and unconstrained hatreds have consequences. I'm afraid Texas still has a ways to go.
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on February 22, 2015
Perhaps it is because the authors use the present tense in writing about events that occurred 50 years ago that this account of the atmospherics in Dallas at the time of the murder of President Kennedy has such a feeling of immediacy and rings so true.

Writing under the byline Jerry Richmond, I personally covered many of the incidents leading up to and following the president's assassination and ran with fellow reporters at the (now defunct) DALLAS TIMES HERALD who covered other assignments described in DALLAS 1963. The accuracy of the authors' extensive background research and their deft writing style would have made them great additions to our Times Herald team covering the months leading up to the tragedy, the assassinations of Kennedy and his killer Oswald, and the horrible months of trial and conspiracy that followed. Many of these stories of hate were not and could not be reported contemporaneously, and are revealed here for the first time. At the very least this book clearly explains why so many unresolved conspiracies sprouted and continue to blossom from the dark, bloody soil of Dallas in that era. This book had to be written, and thanks to Minutaglio and Davis, I and the few surviving journalists who were there for all of this story will not have to cover this ground in our own reportorial memoirs.

---Clint Richmond, author of FETCH THE DEVIL
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on December 6, 2014
I was a youth when JFK was killed and although I lived in the South where many people expressed hatred for him I had not idea how bad the situation was in Dallas. All I read about Adlai Stevenson in Dallas was that he was insulted and "jostled". I heard nothing about him being hit on the head with a placard and having an angry mob attack his vehicle. My sources of info in those days were TIME magazine and NBC news. The combination of right wing wing nuts,Gen Walker, H.L. Hunt and Dealy were bad enough but throw in embittered Cuban exiles,the Chicago mob,and the oil barons and nuclear mongers and there is a witches' brew of epic proportions. The authors appear to believe in the lone assassin myth which I could never buy, but they did a great job in describing the hate-crazed climate of Big D. It is a national tragedy that not only was the JFK murder investigation was incredibly botched but the nation chose to go far too easy on Dallas
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on December 22, 2013
Disclosure: I grew up in the Pacific Northwest during the time the authors speak of. I remember John Birch Society members coming to our house and haranguing my mother on the front porch. She gave as good as she got, but I was worried that she might come under attack someday. I did not know where such mean strangers came from and became suspicious of all adult males of a certain forbidding appearance. Little did I realize that this was the vanguard of a movement out of racist hate and fear central (at the time…, it, like most sane, educated municipalities, is, in its non-Gerrymandered form, reliably blue), Dallas, TX.

The book, like Doris Kearns Goodwins book, The Bully Pulpit, demonstrates how persistent certain qualities are in American life, how they recur with a fury, often during times of economic duress, but always buzzing away. Fascinating to learn about Cruz and Koch antecedents, of whom they are latter-day clones. History has a way of placing such opportunistic, shiftless people (Alger, Criswell, Dealy, Hunt, Walker and many, many others) in the rogue's gallery of infamy where they belong. Hats off to Mr. Minutaglio for bringing them forth from their much-deserved obscurity so that we may place the current generation of opportunists in richer, if odoriferous context. I learned about folks that would have given me nightmares as a child and give me extreme indigestion as an adult. Always angry, always trying to hurt and control, social and economic bullies of the worst (and unrepentant, viz the unreformed racist, former Dallas-based congressman Bruce Alger) sort. The few remaining are reburnishing their credentials as that ultimate in purity, "most conservative."

Mr. Minutaglio has written a fine book that should serve as a cautionary tale. It was a riveting and enriching read. It served as a helpful springboard into further explorations of such things as the John Birch Society. Who would have guessed that the inventor.manufacturer of one of my childhood favorite candies, sugar babies, turned sweetness into such bile. Who knew that they still existed? The author takes us closer to the root system for the current arch-conservative tree, showing the strong interconnectedness of tax-subsidized corporate wealth, religion and politics from the outset. One might have thought that the demise of communism would have been a death knell to such groups, but, no, it really is and was about the money.

I agree with some reviewers that a weakness in the book is that it creates the impression that there is a geographic center for such movements and that it is there that we can expect the most striking manifestations of fear and hatred. Such qualities are and have ever been in the American Grain and are present much more diffusely. Reinforcing echo chambers abound even more now. One really can't blame or constructively focus on a locality to address such matters. As regards the tragic shooting of the president, Mr. Minutaglio points out that Oswald first tried to kill one of the local, true blue super-ultra-mega patriots, Colonel Walker. Only a window sash prevented him from succeeding in his cowardly act. His selection of the president was, in the end, a naked attempt at self-aggrandizement, initially motivated by Mr. Kennedy's treatment of Cuba.
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on March 9, 2015
In 1963, I was 21, fresh out of college and teaching American government to high school seniors in Pennsylvania.The PA system in school came on during seventh period, and announced the death of JFK.
I was stunned and instinctively felt after being glued to the television for the next three days, that Oswald was not the lone assassin.
I immersed myself in virtually every article and editorial published and then the Warren Report and then the first few conspiracy theories set forth in books.
But until this book I had not read much about the right wing culture in Dallas.
This was a well written and well researched prequel to gain an in depth picture of the petri dish of prejudices that prevailed in Dallas.

By 1971, I had graduated from law school and in the years between 64 and 71--I had put together a 35mm slide show which I presented local service clubs and in many classrooms.
The reaction I received most frequently was lots of skepticism about any conspiracy and questions about my perceived lack of patriotism, until Watergate surfaced. Almost overnight the readiness of folks to believe that our government would, could and did commit crimes and attempted cover-ups shifted with the force of a tsunami. My understanding of evidence and criminal law helped me add other dimensions to my presentations and enhanced my credibility.
I almost did not buy yet another book about the murder of JFK, but the blurb describing the content was spot on.
Kudos to the authors.
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on February 17, 2014
This book contains new information about the city of Dallas and the major political actors leading up to the assassination of JFK. I found the historical background of Dallas phenomenally interesting. I would say Dallas basically was run like a plantation up to the 1970s or 1980s. Very scary stuff.
The scene with LBJ and Ladybird in1960 was frightening, as was the visit of Adlai Stevenson in 1963. How supposedly cultured and educated people acted was shameful.
Written by two Texan historians, it shows deep scholarship and objectivity, with hundreds of references.
The writing is also excellent.....a good read.
Each chapter, which is a month's activities, is packed. I got up to November 1963 and had to set it aside for a few days, then go back to it. I lived through that time, and this book brought it back in living color!
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on May 24, 2017
This book was fabulous. It was very informative and enlightening and should be read by any dedicated readers of histories surrounding this most seminal event of our nation's 20th century history. An important addition to the great works which examine these events and which gives tremendous insight into hows and whys of JFK's fateful trip in November in Dallas 1963. Strongly recommend it to any serious scholars of this event.
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on November 29, 2015
For the past thirty years I've read about everything I could get my hands on about the Kennedy Assassination. I first learned of this book after seeing one of the authors appear at a festival broadcast on C-SPAN. I was intrigued. The approach here was complimentary to the array of assassination books. This work does a great job of setting the scene for the events of November 22, 1963. The pages turned quickly as I found it an interesting and enjoyable work. The authors did a wonderful job for which they should be congratulated. This is an important book for students of history and the Kennedy presidency.
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on October 29, 2014
this is not another conspiracy theory book about the JFK assassination, but a thoughtful and detailed look at what dallas was like in the 1960s, with profiles of the major players, many of whom never made it into any other accounts of the drama and some of whom were prominently portrayed elsewhere. the book is a filled with fascinating insights into the thinking and actions of the movers and shakers in dallas, and gives a good picture of the general state of mind in the south at a time when racism was alive and well (and probably still ls). this book is a must reading companion piece for anyone interested in the history of that time.
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on January 20, 2014
I was sixteen years old at the time of the Kennedy Assassination. Much that's been written since those times, has either been focused on various conspiracy theories or discussions about the life of the man himself.
This book takes a hard look at Dallas with it's character and politics seeming to find that Dallas remains not too much different than the day of the assassination.
In some ways the book is simply a chronology of events in a place that continues to have a certain character. The authors leave interpretations of that character to the readers themselves.
Well done.
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