On November 22, 1963, Abraham Zapruder left his office hoping for a glimpse of President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade as it passed by Dealey Plaza. A Russian Jewish immigrant who wholeheartedly loved his home in America, Abe thrilled at the chance to see the young president in person—and perhaps to bring back a home movie of this once-in-a-lifetime moment for his family.
The twenty-six seconds of Abraham Zapruder’s footage depicting the JFK assassination is now iconic, forever embedded in American culture and identity. The first major instance of citizen journalism, this amateur film forced Abraham Zapruder to face unprecedented dilemmas: How to handle his unexpected ownership of a vitally important yet unspeakably terrible piece of American history? How to aid the U.S. government and, at the same time, fend off the swarm of reporters grasping to purchase the film? How to make the best decisions to ensure the film was safeguarded—but never exploited?
PRAISE FOR Twenty-Six Seconds:
“Alexandra…has written the entwined story of the Zapruder film and the Zapruders themselves with scrupulous care and attention to all the civic and familial sensitivities involved. It turns out to be a fascinating and cautionary tale.” —The Wall Street Journal
“…an unusual, enlightening effort, an intelligent blend of memoir and cultural criticism that breaks fresh ground in the crowded field of JFK assassination studies.” —The San Fransciso Chronicle
“This well-written exploration of conspiracy, propriety, copyright, and public good versus private gain is seen through the prism of the world’s most famous home movie. Sometimes “personal history” is code for lazy research, but Zapruder (Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust) has doggedly followed the tortured life of her grandfather’s short 8 mm film, which captured the moment of President Kennedy’s assassination, through the shock of witness, media frenzy, FBI fumbling, conspiracy theorists, lawsuits, artists, and Oliver Stone. …Zapruder doesn’t shy away from the fact that her family made money from the film, but it was the government that decided the “small, depressing, inconclusive, limited spool of celluloid” was worth $16 million, reaffirming its position as a true relic, one of the few in a secular world.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)