Julian Read, a Texas political insider who delivered the first eyewitness account of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination to the media, has authored a behind-the-scenes account that chronicles the tragedy and its fifty-year legacy. In JFK’s Final Hours in Texas, Read documents not only the immediate agony endured by the people in the epicenter of the tragedy but also the continuing experience of a wounded community recovering from its aftermath.
In 1963, Read was the media representative for Governor John B. Connally, host of the president’s November visit to Texas. On the day Kennedy was killed, Read was aboard the chartered White House Press bus, just a few vehicles behind the presidential limousine in the motorcade through downtown Dallas. After hearing the assassination shots and watching the limousine lurch forward amid panicking onlookers, Read raced to nearby Parkland Hospital, where the president and Connally had been rushed to emergency rooms. There, immediately after White House Deputy Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff announced that the president was dead, Read briefed journalists based on what Nellie Connally, wife of the governor, had hurriedly reported to him.
Beyond capturing the drama of the immediate hours following the assassination, Read illuminates the previously overlooked consequences of the aborted portion of the trip. The author also traces the long aftermath of the assassination, including the intensity of the bitterness against Dallas and Texas. And in what he calls “the long journey from anguish to reconciliation,” Read follows the decades-long struggle to create the Sixth Floor Museum in downtown Dallas, located in the space where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shots.
Read’s very personal account of his experiences surrounding that historic event and previously obscured details of the president’s Texas trip constitute a worthy addition to the record of a turbulent time.
Julian Read is a nationally prominent Texan corporate communications and public affairs counselor who has been part of the state’s business and political scene for more than half a century. He founded and operated his own firm, Read-Poland Associates, for five decades before partnering with New York public relations executive Jeff Hunt to merge it with a global industry leader.
Read was a cub reporter for the Scripps-Howard Fort Worth Press at the age of eighteen. Six years later, he founded his own fledgling advertising and publicity shop. He soon scored two political campaign upsets that led to a lifetime of broad experience in the public sector. He became intimately involved in John B. Connally’s successful campaign for governor of Texas in 1962, and remained his counselor and confidant for more than thirty years until Connally’s death in 1993. He served as Connally’s representative to the national media for Kennedy’s visit to Texas in November 1963.
The author’s background and deep involvement in Texas communications and politics for more than six decades give him a unique perspective to bring fresh context and insight to the record surrounding the Kennedy assassination and its fifty-year aftermath.
Based in Austin, Read continues to provide senior counsel for Cohn & Wolfe, a worldwide unit of London-based WPP. He also devotes much of his time in support of historic preservation.