Twen­ty-Six Seconds

  • From the Publisher
May 16, 2017

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?

Discussion Questions