An intriguing history of one of the most significant home movies ever recorded.

A meticulous history of an iconic home movie and its contentious afterlife.

Positioned to film John F. Kennedy’s motorcade in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, Abraham Zapruder, to his profound horror, instead recorded the president’s assassination. In this carefully researched investigation, his granddaughter Alexandra Zapruder (editor: Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust, 2004, etc.) examines the fate of that movie, from the first chaotic moments after the tragedy to the present. Her aim, she writes, is to tell not only her grandfather’s story, but to probe “the centrality of the film’s place in the Kennedy assassination debates, how it had challenged norms around the public representation of violence, how it triggered new debates about the media’s role in protecting personal privacy or providing access to information.” In the immediate aftermath, the FBI and Secret Service scrambled to find a lab that would make copies. At the same time, Zapruder was besieged by journalists wanting to buy the movie, demands that he strongly resisted until a sympathetic reporter from LIFE “offered him a safe harbor in a sea of sharks” that included the aggressive young Dan Rather. Zapruder relinquished the original to LIFE and kept a duplicate, retaining rights to the film. Eventually, beset by legal problems, the magazine sold the film back to the family, who deposited it in the National Archives. The author reveals how the film was perceived, frame by frame, in various investigations, including the Warren Commission, which concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone; and by a rash of headstrong conspiracy theorists. After Zapruder’s death, the author’s father, a lawyer, vetted requests to use the film from writers, scholars, the media, and a certain “Los Angeles-based filmmaker” who turned out to be Oliver Stone. Drawing on family and media archives, interviews, and published sources, the author makes a strong case for the film’s “fame, cultural status, and emotional and symbolic value” both for the nation and her family.

An intriguing history of one of the most significant home movies ever recorded.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7481-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016



The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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