The Zapruder Film
Reframing JFK's Assassination
Sales Date: August 19, 2013
380 Pages, 6.13 x 9.25 in
- Published: August 2013
- Published: November 2003
It is the most famous home movie of all time, the most closely analyzed 26 seconds of film ever shot, the most disturbing visual record of what many have called “the crime of the century.”
In 486 frames—a mere six feet of celluloid—Abraham Zapruder’s iconic film captures from beginning to end the murder of President John F. Kennedy in broad daylight. An essential piece of evidence, the film has become nearly synonymous with the assassination itself and has generated decades of debate among conspiracy theorists and defenders of the Warren Commission’s official report. Until now, however, no scholar has produced a comprehensive book-length study of the film and its relation to the tragic events of November 22, 1963.
David Wrone, one of our nation’s foremost authorities on the assassination, re-examines Zapruder’s film with a fresh eye and a deep knowledge of the forensic evidence. He traces the film’s history from its creation on the “grassy knoll” by Dallas dressmaker Zapruder through its initial sale to Life magazine and early reproductions and its analysis by the Warren Commission and countless assassination researchers, licensing by the Zapruder family, legal battles over bootleg copies, and sale to the federal government for sixteen million dollars.
Wrone’s major contribution, however, is to demonstrate how a close examination of the film itself necessarily refutes the Warren Commission’s lone-gunman and single-bullet theories. The film, as he reminds us, provides a scientifically precise timeline of events, as well as crucial clues regarding the timing, number, origins, and impact of the shots fired that day. Analyzing the film frame-by-frame in relation to other evidence—including two key photos by Phil Willis and Ike Altgens—he builds a convincing case against the official findings.
Without fanfare, he concludes that more than three gunshots were fired from more than one direction and that most likely none were fired by alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. If true, then JFK’s death was the result of a conspiracy, for the Commission’s nonconspiracy conclusion requires a maximum of three shots and one gunman.
Wrone, however, does not speculate as to who actually shot JFK or why—or even if Oswald was a part of the conspiracy. In fact, he is no fan of conspiracy-think and is just as critical of the legion of conspiracy theorists as he is of the Warren Commission (which, he reveals, crushed dissent within its own ranks).
Doggedly pursuing the evidence wherever it leads, Wrone has produced a meticulous, clear-eyed, and provocative new reading of this remarkable cinematic Rosetta Stone.
". . . clearly written and accessible to a wide audience. It will be useful to students of American society, particularly in the fields of criminology and law, sociology, political science, and history."—Critical Criminology
"Wrone has provided a stimulating, clearly written, and well-researched study of an issue that may never be satisfactorily resolved."—Journal of Southern History
"One of the most sober JFK assassination books of 2003 or any other year. . . . Wrone seems to be without an ideologically motivated agenda. He seems interested only in finding and presenting the evidence responsibly. . . . Of all the Zapruder film analyses I have read, Wrone’s is the most lucid for a nonexpert, and the calmest in tone."—Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Future assassination researchers will consult this fascinating history of the indelible Zapruder film. Strongly recommended."—Library Journal
“Wrone is neither a Warren Commission defender nor an outlandish conspiracy theorist but a careful historian who presents a strong case that the Warren Commission hastily and wrongly concluded that Oswald murdered Kennedy. . . . Strongly recommended.”—Library Journal
“A stimulating, clearly written, and well-researched study.”—Journal of Southern History
“An important, valuable, and compelling addition to the literature on the assassination that argues convincingly that the film is both authentic and contains evidence of a conspiracy.”—Michael L. Kurtz, author of The JFK Assassination Debates: Lone Gunman versus Conspiracy
“Wrone’s knowledge of the assassination’s complex and daunting evidentiary base is unparalleled.”—James H. Lesar, founder and president of the Assassination Archives and Research Center
“The vivid images captured by the Zapruder film are eminently recognizable, perhaps more so than any other film footage ever captured, so much so that anyone who reflects on JFK’s assassination quite likely does so from Abraham Zapruder’s vantage point.”—Walter E. Dellinger III, Maggs Professor of Law at Duke University and former Solicitor General of the United States
Part I. The Film
1. Abraham Zapruder Films the Assassination
2. Development and Sale of the Film
3. The Film
Part II. The Film and Private Ownership of American History
4. Ownership, Copyright, and the Zapruder Film, 1963-1975
5. Control and Profits, 1975-1997
Part III. The Film and the Struggle for Access
6. Profits First: Time Inc. Sues Bernard Geis Associates for Theft and Misuse of Its Zapruder Frams
7. A Student, a Scholar, and the Zapruder Film: Gerard A. Selby Jr. and Harold Weisberg versus Henry G. Zapruder et al.
Part IV. Theorists and the Zapruder Film
8. Prisoners of Preconception: Conspiracy Theorists, Warren Commission Defenders, and the Zapruder Film
9. Altered Evidence, Altered States: An Introduction to Those Who Claim the Film Was Altered
Part V. The Film and the Evidentiary Base
10. Official Federal Policy: Do Not Investigate
11. The Man in the Doorway
12. The Head Shot and Zapruder Frams 337 and 338
13. Photographic Proof of Conspiracy: Zapruder Frame 202
14. A Command Appearance: Jim Garrison, Zapruder, and Zapruder’s Film
Part VI. The Film and the Single-Bullet Theory
15. Official Allegation: A Single Bullet Explains All Seven Nonfatal Wounds
16. Official Evidence: The Seven Nonfatal Wounds
Part Vii. The Struggle to Free the Film
17. Federal Purchase: The Government and the Zapruder Film, 1963-2000
Epilogue: The Zapruder Film and American History