“Dallas 1963” by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis (Twelve, 384 pages, in stores)
“City of hate.” That's how Bill Minutaglio and Steven Davis describe Dallas in the years leading up to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The president was derided in executive board rooms, church sanctuaries, the city's leading newspaper and elsewhere.
What inspired the tirades? Well, Kennedy was the first Catholic president. He was a Yankee and spoke with a New England accent. His proposals for racial tolerance enraged many in the deeply segregationist city, where he was called a socialist, communist and a strong supporter of the United Nations.
People accused him of wanting to turn the country over to the pope or the Soviet Union. What's more, he was a Democrat.
The Dallas elite wanted their city to be known for its wealth, sophistication and high fashion, not for the slums existing in the shadows of its towering skyscrapers. The Dallas Citizens Council, made up of the rich and powerful, was nearly unanimous in its extreme right-wing views.
During the 1960 presidential race, Texas oilman H.L. Hunt spent lavishly to try to make Richard M. Nixon the nation's chief executive, but Kennedy prevailed. Ted Dealey, Dallas Morning News publisher, exhausted a river of ink trying to discredit Kennedy, and retired Army Maj. Gen. Edwin A. “Ted” Walker opposed the president on nearly every front. (Strangely enough, before assassinating Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald had tried to kill Walker, firing a shot at him from across the street.)
That isn't to say that Kennedy was without Dallas supporters. Stanley Marcus, of the Neiman Marcus department store empire, worried that Dallas was cultivating such a radical image, but he rarely dared speak out. The moneyed set responded to his occasional comments by turning in their Neiman Marcus credit cards, threatening his business.