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Interview: The Political Climate in Dallas Leading to JFK’s Assassination

Twelve Books

Walter Cronkite’s announcement of JFK’s assassination. The televised shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald. The Zapruder film. The Warren Commission.

In that avalanche of history, a new book suggests we’ve lost sight of something important: specifically, the seedbed for the most momentous political tragedy of 20th century America.

It’s the story of "Dallas, 1963." That’s the title of a new book by and .

Minutaglio talks with KUT’s David Brown about why he describes the book as a “biography of a city,” and what lessons may have been overlooked by history.  

“We felt there was a welling toxic environment in Dallas,” Minutaglio says. “That there was something that started as unease and dread in the community at large and it really began building to a fevered pitch. It was waiting there for Kennedy, and he didn’t know it.”

According to Minutaglio, Kennedy had received reports that the environment in Dallas was quite intense and maybe he should rethink his visit. Kennedy’s aides had reported that there was a group of people who had “hijacked the microphone.”

These “outsized figures” included billionaire H.L. Hunt, General Edwin A. Walker and Ted Dealey, publisher of The Dallas Morning News. However, as history states, Kennedy’s assassin wasn’t some “right-wing radical.”

“People were literally coming to Dallas to join this anti-Kennedy resistance,” Minutaglio says. “Lee Harvey Oswald was there, and was kind of caught up in the swirl, and might have been motivated as a disturbed individual to action, to be a part of this maelstrom. Nothing like this could have happened, but in Dallas.”

Listen to the interview in the audio player above.

This interview originally ran Sept. 19, 2013. 

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit .

David Brown
David entered radio journalism thanks to a love of storytelling, an obsession with news, and a desire to keep his hair long and play in rock bands. An inveterate political junkie with a passion for pop culture and the romance of radio, David has reported from bases in Washington, London, Los Angeles, and Boston for Monitor Radio and for NPR, and has anchored in-depth public radio documentaries from India, Brazil, and points across the United States and Europe. He is, perhaps, known most widely for his work as host of public radio's Marketplace. Fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to Texas full-time in 2005, Brown joined the staff of KUT, launching the award-winning cultural journalism unit "Texas Music Matters."