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The Zapruder Film: Reframing JFK's Assassination Paperback – November 22, 2003

2.9 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The famous Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination lasts a grand total of 26 seconds. In this 400-page book, Wrone (professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point) dissects Zapruder's footage frame by frame, only to end up restating at length the well-worn argument, expressed much more succinctly in scores of other publications, that the film shows shots fired from three different angles, none of them correlating with Lee Harvey Oswald's perch at the Texas Book Depository. While Wrone's exhaustive consideration of the film itself quickly becomes tedious, he provides a few chapters that tell some intriguing stories, such as Zapruder's early actions in the initial hours after the assassination (when he first realized he possessed a valuable "property"), the several subsequent court fights over ownership in various sections of the film and the tangled history of the U.S. government's acquisition, decades after the event, of the film. Wrone also chronicles the various ways in which the film has been used and abused by both adherents and critics of the Warren Commission and summarizes the theory, advanced by the commission's more crackpot critics, that Zapruder's footage has been altered in order to eliminate the most damning evidence of conspiracy. Aside from these anecdotes, however, there is nothing new here, just reiteration of the scathing criticisms of the Warren Commission's conclusions. Wrone's book will appeal to only the most die-hard and detail-driven assassination buffs, though these findings by a sober historian may draw attention as we mark the 40th anniversary of the assassination. 40 photos, 22 in color.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"A stimulating, clearly written, and well-researched study."

Journal of Southern History

"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

"One of the most sober JFK assassination books of any 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 non-expert, and the calmest in tone."

Cleveland Plain Dealer

"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

"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

Product Details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; Reprint edition (November 22, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700619437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700619436
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #694,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book provides both solid historical information and what many may regard as speculation. If the book convinces you, you'll view all of it as solid fact.
There are now 3 camps on the events of November 22, 1963: the Warren Commission believers who view Oswald as the lone gunman, followers of various conspiracy theories who say there was a second shooter but who regard the Z film as key evidence, and now the Z film hoax group -- see the new Fetzer book by one of the other reviewers here -- who say there are several shooters but further postulate that the Zapruder film was faked.
This book traces the chain of custody of the original Zapruder film and all its earliest copies. To me, it is convincing that the Zapruder film, while several frames were damaged in processing, is not a fake. The film is never unaccounted for long enough to be substantially edited using advanced methods that leave no evidence of editing. (If it were faked, why release it with so convincing a portrayal of more than one shooter? A film so convincing that the Warren Commission has to explain away what appears to be a shot fired from the front.)
The speculative part of the book uses the Z film as evidence of a second shooter. The Warren Commission Report and its single bullet theory are disputed. (According to the book, the Z film supports the idea that Governor Connoly was hit by a bullet that never hit JFK. The entry wound in the president's back is too low to result in a throat exit wound and the injuries to Governor Connolly -- all caused by one bullet on a downward path. This "single bullet" is moved by political forces, not ballistic ones.) As many will be chanting "Oswald did it!" it is good that the book does not explore who the other shooter might be.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a very good addition to the library of JFK Assassination literature. For the first time that I know of, the custody of the Zapruder film has been carefully documented and researched as well as other topics like CE-399 (The Magic Bullet.) David Wrone uses the Zapruder film and good old common sense to quickly dismiss of Gerald Posner and the Single Bullet Theory. He also satisfactorially addresses the two topics keeping conspiracy believers from progressing with the case. One being the Zapruder alteration Fetzer people and the other being the Greer-did-it scenario. Both of which are pretty rediculous when viewing good quality copies of the film. Also, I'm glad somebody finally put the Umbrella-was-a-dart-gun theory into the trash bin where it belongs.
But this isn't to say the book is perfect. The author picks on many authors from Jim Marrs, Jim Garrison, David Lifton, and Mark Lane. He calls pretty much every book on the assassination as being sloppy and not honestly researched. He mentions how authors would make accusations without going into further detail but he himself does this on several occasions.
On page 119, he writes: "Many historians, myself among them, were especially disturbed by (Oliver) Stone's reliance on such error-ridden sources as Jim Marr's 'Crossfire' and Jim Garrison's 'On The Trail of the Assassins.'" It ends there, with no examples of the errors. I'm sure no book is perfect, but one example would help.
On pages 130-131: "(Oswald's) New Orleans Fair Play for Castro chapter did not exist, although he pretended it did; it was simply Oswald's invention." ... "He was never, in any meaning of the word or even in the faintest degree, a traitor. ...
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very admirable book, well researched and documented, with only a few errors, and one major misstatement of the facts.

Wrone has done an amazing job of tracing the Zapruder movie step-by-step from its exposure in Dealey Plaza; its development and duplication; its publicity and provenance; and the steps through which it became widely available to nearly everybody in this media age.

This documentation, heavily relying on multiple statements by myriad witnesses, shows that there was no time during which the film and its copies went unsupervised or unwatched; this precludes the theories of some, such as James Fetzer and his crew, that the film has been changed or replaced. (See the Fetzer-edited book The Great Zapruder Film Hoax.)

Besides the mere physical chronicle of the film, Wrone also tried to explain in what ways the tale of the film disproves the one-shooter theory held with such silly fervor by folks who seem to have a preoccupation with political self-preservation.

A really amazing bit of history is Wrone’s demonstration that the government and its law-enforcement agencies appeared pretty blasé about the existence of the various films and photos taken of the assassination and its environs. You would think that all of this photographic evidence, as prima facie evidence in a murder, should have been immediately commandeered, each item cataloged, and chains of custody rigidly documented. NOT! It’s a grave indictment of the powers-that-were that almost uniformly this evidence was treated as irrelevant distractions from the simple Oswald-did-it mindset that prevailed.
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