Books like these have fallen largely out of favor if they were ever in favor at all, now that pricey films, slick pulp paperbacks and the Internet have turned the assassination of John F. Kennedy into a major portion of a tremendously profitable nostalgia industry. The authors of "Jack Ruby" are not so much concerned with the activities of presumably sinister entities, be they Masons, Mafiosi or renegade CIA operatives.
Rather, Wills and Demaris are more interested in Texas in general and Dallas in particular as unique cultural institutions and how they shaped the attitudes and behavior of a small-time Chicago-bred nightclub owner who eventually got the public adulation he so desperately craved his entire life, but which quickly degenerated into historical infamy. The authors explain Dallas is a highly stratified, ethnocentric, self-consciously "new money" city obsessed with gaining positive cultural acknowledgement from the rest of urban America but is also planted firmly in the brash, no-holds-barred, us-versus-them frontier assertiveness that is Texas legend.
This, they claim, is what ultimately led to that live televised shooting in the basement of the Dallas police headquarters and the initial hailing of Ruby as a hero and then his pillorying as a murderer. Put simply, Ruby's "hit" was pure Texas, while his plaintive cry of "You all know me, I'm Jack Ruby!" to the police officers who cuffed him represented the secret yearning of many Dallasites who looked enviously upon the burgeoning cities of the Northeast (or even to their better-off neighbors) for social acceptance.
The book's only flaws are the lengthy parade of supporting characters and situations which are erratically introduced and dismissed and a writing style that often lapses into near-stream of consciousness. This can cause a newcomer to the already confusing world of JFK assassination historiography some distress, but the thesis and the evidence to support it are a refreshing alternative to what has become accepted (or not accepted) about the events in Dallas during the last week of November, 1963.