Dallas 1963

  • by Bill Minutaglio, Steven L. Davis
  • Narrated by Bill Minutaglio, Tony Messano, Steven L. Davis
  • 12 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the months and weeks before the fateful November 22nd, 1963, Dallas was brewing with political passions, a city crammed with larger-than-life characters dead-set against the Kennedy presidency. These included rabid warriors like defrocked military general Edwin A. Walker; the world's richest oil baron, H. L. Hunt; the leader of the largest Baptist congregation in the world, W. A. Criswell; and the media mogul Ted Dealey, who raucously confronted JFK and whose family name adorns the plaza where the president was murdered. On the same stage was a compelling cast of marauding gangsters, swashbuckling politicos, unsung civil rights heroes, and a stylish millionaire anxious to save his doomed city.
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. Breathtakingly paced, Dallas 1963 presents a clear, cinematic, and revelatory look at the shocking tragedy that transformed America. Countless authors have attempted to explain the assassination, but no one has ever bothered to explain Dallas - until now.
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. 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

American lunacy, listenable as it gets

Beatlemania wasn't the only crowd frenzy looming in those times. Ghosts of the old South were finding their way into the machine of new media and trumpeting away, alarmed. The invasion, as they saw it, was a tangle of Yankee and Commie ideas coming to finally wash them away in a tide of Kumbaya and vile socialism.
These authors and narrator do a far better job than I do here, of telling the tale, scene by scene. Their characterizations and scenes are brilliantly crafted, line by line, lit and staged with great skill. I have heard no more listenable history audio than this one. It is gripping. The sweat, blood, outbursts, fears, are all cinematically presented in multiple dimensions and colors, in moments clear as a bright Dallas November day. The pacing is great.
My only beef is the utterly uncritical and unskeptical portrayal of the Kennedys and their Democratic politics of the time. While this book does put us in the optimism and flush of political awakenings of those times, of Civil Rights and so on, and brilliantly so, there is more of the story we have heard by now.
First, a lot more info on JFK is floating around now. In this book, we get a rosy portrayal of him and Jackie and the kids straight from the Kennedy image and reputation mill of the times, and it was an industry in itself (that wasn't cheap to maintain). While I like this book tremendously, and share some of its idealisms, I would recommend the reader also check out The Dark Side of Camelot by Seymour Hersch, himself a journalist with very respectable liberal credentials in some of his writings (Nixon hated him).
I suppose it makes sense for a book told in the present tense to only look from its own moment. We are well served by such a tight and disciplined focus. But there is also, policy-wise, the rest of the story of the sixties, seventies and so on, including, for those not in denial today, a litany of (some significant number of) failures one after another mixed in with those politics as the early blind hope and idealism turned to attempted implementation (JFK did not live to see, thus never being questioned about it). These idealisms and failures form the contours of our basic political conflicts today. This is so rosy on the Kennedys, and their ideas, it is sort of a picture postcard with the colors all too perfect.
A final comment on history, and its echoes today: the Dallas fringe-right-wingers so unforgettably portrayed here, are one set of forebears to the voter base President Trump is tossing such red meat to, even as I write this. Another upstream group in history for Trump's base today (and political attack style) is, up north in NYC and DC, Roy Cohn, Trump's mentor and former lawyer (before Cohn, the ultimate red-baiter-backroom-fixer-lawyer, finally defrocked, died of AIDS in the 80's, secondary to his closeted party-boy lifestyle). I wish audible would publish, alongside Dark Side of Camelot, the book Citizen Cohn by Nicholas Von Hoffman, an expose that can stand beside Dallas 1963 in its colorful (and again, a bit left-skewed) history-journalism. These are all fine works, if imperfect.
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- Phil O.

Today's headlines ripped straight from this story

Absolutely stupendous book, hitting the mark on all counts: plot, background understanding, and intellect. Dallas in the early 1960s somehow was remarkably arch conservative, even reactionary. Now that I have learned the back story, the assassination takes on a whole new light. This book tells history as it was a story, which is the best kind of history lesson. You learn personalities of the players and vivid detail. One small caveat: I felt as if Oswald's story, in the days leading up to the assassination, was somehow dropped out of the story-telling. Would have liked to read more on that. But small concern in an overall outstanding book. More than ever, learning history helps us understand today.
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- AMF

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-13-2013
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio