In the early 1960s, Dallas was brewing with political passions, a city crammed with larger-than-life characters dead-set against the Kennedy presidency. Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis ingeniously explore the swirling forces that led many people to warn President Kennedy to avoid Dallas on his fateful trip to Texas.
Dallas 1963 presents a clear, cinematic, and revelatory portrait of a corner of America that had been hijacked by hysteria. With spellbinding storytelling, Minutaglio and Davis lead us through intimate glimpses of the Kennedy family and the machinations of the Kennedy White House, to the obsessed men in Dallas who concocted the climate of hatred that led many to blame the city for the president's death.
Dallas's anti-Kennedy warriors include defrocked military general Edwin A. Walker--who had been relieved of command by JFK for brainwashing his troops with John Birch Society literature--and who retreated to Dallas to plot his revenge. On the same stage is H.L. Hunt, the world's richest oil baron, who is spending his fortune to destroy Kennedy. Hunt's minister in Dallas is W.A. Criswell, the controversial leader of the First Baptist Church, whose thundering anti-Catholic and anti-civil rights sermons are heard by the largest Baptist congregation in the world. Also opposing Kennedy is Bruce Alger, the most extreme member of Congress, as well as the ultra-conservative media mogul, Ted Dealey, who raucously confronts JFK in the White House and whose family name adorns the plaza where the president is murdered.
Here at long last is an accurate understanding of what happened in the weeks and months leading to John F. Kennedy's assassination. DALLAS 1963 is not only a fresh look at a momentous national tragedy but a sobering reminder of how radical, polarizing ideologies can poison a city-and a nation.
co-written with Bill Minutaglio
Winner of the PEN USA Award for Research Nonfiction
an Amazon Best History Book of the Year
One of the Five Essential Kennedy Assassination Books Ever Written - the Daily Beast
One of the Best Books of the Year: Kirkus, The New Republic, Washington Post's "The Fix," the Seattle Times, The Oklahoman, The Kansas City Star
A Must-Read: For the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination there are dozens of books coming. But the only one, for my money, that really distinguishes itself is this terrifying account of the potent blend of right-wing hysteria, subversive reactionaries, and violence that bubbled over in Dallas in the years before Oswald pulled the trigger. The scariest part: the paranoid right was as freaked out then as they are now. - The Daily Beast
After fifty years, it’s a challenge to fashion a new lens with which to view the tragic events of November 22, 1963—yet Texans [Minutaglio and Davis] pull it off brilliantly. - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
A chilling ... vivid picture of a volatile city ... The accounts of events in 1963 unfold in the book like a thriller novel.
- Associated Press
This engrossing narrative vividly captures the tensions in the Kennedy-Dallas crucible...and will grip readers interested in the roots of Kennedy's political challenges and his assassination.
- Library Journal (starred review)
Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis's Dallas 1963 is a brilliantly written, haunting eulogy to John F. Kennedy. By exposing the right-wing hatred aimed at our 35th president, the authors demonstrates that America—not just Lee Harvey Oswald—was ultimately responsible for his death. Every page is an eye opener. Highly recommended!
- Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University and author of Cronkite
All the great personalities of Dallas during the assassination come alive in this superb rendering of a city on a roller coaster into disaster. History has been waiting fifty years for this book.
- Lawrence Wright, staff writer with The New Yorker and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower and Going Clear
The authors demonstrate in luxuriant detail just how clotted Dallas was with right-wing types in the period before Kennedy's fatal visit.
- The New Yorker
With tremendously good research and graceful storytelling, the authors reveal the accelerating power of reactionary politics. Readers get close to the lives of an extraordinary cast of characters...Dallas 1963 holds a wealth of riveting information and Minutaglio and Davis often make brilliant connections between the unfolding politics of nation, state, and city -- and the violent stakes beneath them all.
- Christian Science Monitor
Dallas 1963 is a significant addition to the JFK canon.
A brisk and invigorating read.
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Dallas 1963 shows Minutaglio and Davis doing what they do best: sifting through history recent and past for fresh insights and forgotten details to craft a tale that's uncomfortably relevant given the contemporary political climate.
- Austin American Statesman
Spotlighting the local cabal of hard-right extremists -- politicians, business leaders, media executives, and clergymen -- who considered the president a traitor, Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis construct a riveting portrait of a city roiled by paranoia and hate.
- Parade magazine
Every great book season needs that one deeply researched non-fiction heavyweight, and this fall, it's Dallas 1963, a collaboration between writers Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis that should be enthralling catnip for history junkies.
- Complex Pop Culture
Minutaglio and Davis capture in fascinating detail the creepiness that shamed Dallas in 1963.
- Gary Cartwright, author and contributing editor at Texas Monthly
The authors skillfully marry a narrative of the lead-up to the fateful day with portrayals of the Dixiecrats, homophobes, John Birchers, hate-radio spielers, and the ‘superpatriots’ who were symptomatic of the paranoid tendency in American politics.
- Harold Evans, former editor Times of London and author of The American Century
In this harrowing, masterfully-paced depiction of a disaster waiting to happen, Minutaglio and Davis examine a prominent American city in its now-infamous moment of temporary insanity. Because those days of partisan derangement look all too familiar today, DALLAS 1963 isn’t just a gripping narrative—it’s also a somber cautionary tale.
- Robert Draper, contributor, New York Times Magazine and author of Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives
This fine book proves that there is always something new to be said about that much-discussed subject…This isn’t, it must be stressed, a book about a conspiracy to murder the president. Instead, it’s a thoughtful look at the political and social environment that existed in Dallas at the time of the president’s election and at the time of his 1963 visit—a climate, the authors persuasively argue, of unprecedented turmoil and hatred.