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 w 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? Now Abraham's granddaughter, Alexandra Zapruder, uses previously sealed archival sources, her family's personal records, and interviews to delve into the film's fraught history--its chance beginning, the frantic moments and crucial decisions following the assassination, its controversial ownership by LIFE Magazine, its use in the major assassination investigations, the persistent battles over control of the images, and its impact on American art, film, and literature. Zapruder traces issues of ownership, privacy, and ethics through the decades, as the film sparked debates on the public representation of violence, the media's role in disseminating information, and how personal property becomes public legacy. Throughout this complex history, Zapruder traces the intertwined lives of the film and her family, fusing the private and public to create a complete narrative of the Zapruder film for the first time. She shows how twenty-six seconds of footage changed her family and, at the same time, challenged American society, media, and culture, raising new questions that came to define our age.
Alexandra Zapruder began her career on the founding staff of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. A graduate of Smith College, she later earned her Master's Degree in Education at Harvard University. She is the author of Salvaged Pages: Young Writers' Diaries of the Holocaust, which won the National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category. She also served as the guest curator for an exhibition of original diaries at Holocaust Museum Houston. She wrote and co-produced I'm Still Here, a documentary film for young audiences based onSalvaged Pages, which was awarded the Jewish Image Award for Best Television Special by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and was nominated for two Emmy awards. Alexandra has traveled around the country and spoken to thousands of teachers, students, and others about her work.