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National Nightmare on Six Feet of Film: Mr. Zapruder's Home Movie And the Murder of President Kennedy Paperback – 31 Oct 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 391 pages
  • Publisher: Yeoman Pr (31 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0963859544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0963859549
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,646,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Abraham Zapruder was born in Czarist Russia on May 15, 1905, at the time of the Russo-Japanese War and a dozen years prior to the Bolshevik Revolution. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Barry Ryder on 15 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This fine 2005 book by Richard Trask relates the remarkable story of the iconic Zapruder film from the moment that Mr. `Z' pressed the `start' button on his camera in 1963 up until 1997 when The Sixth Floor Museum became the final custodians of it.

Trask chronicles the key, initial hours as the film is developed, printed, copied and viewed for the very first time. He stays hot on the trail as two of those very first copies head off to Washington for analysis whilst Mr Z begins to realise what an incredible scoop he has made.

The film's sale to Life Magazine is well covered as is the Warren Commission's use of the film during its deliberations.

The author spends a little time discussing how the `research community' obtained the film and how `bootlegged' copies were soon being shown on college campuses all over the country.

The reader will find a very useful chapter which deals with the `alterationist' schism within the `research community' and what they believe about the film. Trask contrasts this viewpoint with those of the `authentic' section and, most importantly, what the real photographic experts say.

The book has plenty of black-and-white plates and some good colour ones as well.
At times some of the discussion and analysis of film development processes and camera mechanics can seem a little arcane for those (such as I) who are 'technophobes', but overall, this is a fine book about a fascinating subject.

If you already have a copy of the MPI DVD, `Image Of An Assassination', this would be an ideal companion to it.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Another First-Rate Effort By Mr. Trask .... All You Could Ever Want To Know About The Zapruder Film Is In Here 15 Jan. 2006
By David Von Pein - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love reading Richard Trask's books about the JFK assassination; and this one, published in late October 2005, is certainly no exception. It's very informative and definitely a worthy addition to anyone's collection of written materials surrounding the shocking murder of President John Kennedy in November of 1963.

"National Nightmare On Six Feet Of Film: Mr. Zapruder's Home Movie And The Murder Of President Kennedy" is a softcover volume containing 392 pages packed with just about every conceivable piece of information revolving around the infamous 26-second color motion-picture film taken by Dallas dress manufacturer Abraham Zapruder on November 22, 1963, which is a film which shows, in all its morbid detail, the assassination of an American President in broad daylight on a city street in Dallas, Texas.

Mr. Trask details the full history of the film and provides a good deal of background and biographical information on Mr. Zapruder, an ordinary Dallas businessman, born in Russia, who, by pure happenstance and coincidence, turned out to be the amateur filmmaker whose name will forever be associated with the death of JFK.

But, if it weren't for the prodding of his secretary, Lillian Rogers (who encouraged Zapruder to go back home and retrieve his 8mm Bell-&-Howell movie camera shortly before the President's motorcade arrived in Dealey Plaza), that brief and awful 26 seconds in history would probably have never been captured through Mr. Zapruder's lens.

Like Richard Trask's other books on the JFK assassination which focus attention on the photographic aspect of the tragedy, the text of "National Nightmare" is ever-readable, easily-understood, and refreshingly-non-biased when it comes to taking a "Conspiracy vs. No Conspiracy" position by the author. Mr. Trask lays out the facts and leaves it at that.

This book's endnotes/footnotes are all positioned at the back of the book in one separate section, so as to not clutter up the main text of the volume. (So keeping two bookmarks handy is recommended, because a lot of interesting info can be gleaned from some of these endnotes too.)

One big surprise to this writer when perusing this book was seeing a COLOR version of the Robert Croft photograph printed on Page 67 (within a 16-page spread of mostly all-color photos and Zapruder Film frames). I had never seen the Croft picture in color previously. And it's an excellent-quality print of that famous amateur photo that I found in this volume, too. The picture is needle-sharp and the color is virtually perfect.

The Croft photo, by the way, depicts the President's limousine on Elm Street, just after the car has made its sharp left turn from Houston Street in front of the Texas School Book Depository. It was taken at a point equivalent to Zapruder frame #161 (per this book's text and captions), which is just about the time the first gunshot was being fired in Dealey Plaza.

Other highly-recommended publications authored by Richard B. Trask (centering on the photography of President Kennedy's assassination) ..... "Pictures Of The Pain" (1994) and "That Day In Dallas" (1998). The latter is a condensed version of the former, focusing attention on just three of the photographers who took pictures in Dallas on the day JFK was killed (Cecil Stoughton, James Altgens, and Jim Murray).*

* = Although condensed into a smaller number of pages than that of its predecessor "POTP", "That Day In Dallas" does contain "revised and enlarged" material throughout its limited number of chapters. And the specific photographs represented within that volume are unrivaled in their clarity and quality of physical presentation, in this writer's personal opinion.

I truly enjoyed both of those books, and was very glad to see "That Day In Dallas" come out a few years after "POTP", because "That Day" provides a larger-print format for many excellent-quality assassination-related photographs, including several pictures you're not likely to see in any other book on the subject.

As a companion piece to "National Nightmare", I would also recommend highly the MPI Home Video DVD "Image Of An Assassination: A New Look At The Zapruder Film" (released in the summer of 1998), which contains four "digital" versions of the entire 26-second Zapruder Film in various formats, including "zoomed-in" variants and a previously-unseen "Widescreen" version of the movie, which includes the imagery between the "sprocket holes" from Mr. Zapruder's "camera original" film.

That DVD also contains some valuable and collectible "bonus" video programming, including interviews with Zapruder associates, as well as the March 1975 "Good Night America" program (hosted by Geraldo Rivera), during which U.S. audiences first saw the horrifying images of Mr. Zapruder's movie. The DVD also has a crystal-clear video copy of the Live interview that Abraham Zapruder gave on WFAA-TV just hours after he had filmed the assassination.

Many of the above-mentioned items from that "Image Of An Assassination" DVD are also referenced by Mr. Trask throughout the well-written pages of "National Nightmare".


In "National Nightmare On Six Feet Of Film", Richard Trask has admirably filled in yet another in a seemingly-never-ending series of pieces of subject matter that comprise the wide and varied fabric that form the mosaic of literature covering the topic of the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Nowhere can be found a more detailed and fact-based history of Abraham Zapruder's historic film than that which resides within these 392 pages.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
As Satisfying An Experience As You Will Find, Period! 16 May 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I whole-heartedly agree with Mr. Von Pein's extremely comprehensive review. If you are into the photographic and film record of the Kennedy Assassination, as I am, than Mr. Trask's published works will satisfy your desire for an in-depth analysis of the major photos and films taken during the November 21st-November 22nd period of time. All three of his books are worth the investment for the wealth of photos they contain and the analysis of those photos.
As to NATIONAL NIGHTMARE, I liken it to that first cup of cold water after a long run. It is satisfying and quenches the thirst. Mr. Trask approaches the history of the film and his analysis of it with no agenda. He is not out to change anyone's mind as to "who dun it," unlike James Fetzer's "The Great Zapruder Film Hoax: Deceit and Deception in the Death of JFK", which goes off into the wacky world of Zapruder film tampering by unknown conspirators. I consider myself an historian, an as such, am much more impressed with Mr. Trask's objective approach to his subject. One gets the impression that he discounts the conspiracy theories in favor of the Warren Commission findings, but it serves as an undercurrent, not as a presumptious raison d'etre for the existence of the book. Mr. Trask simply presents the photographic record in wonderful detail, leaving the theories for the reader to muddle over.
This is really an extaordinary book, and my hope is the Mr. Trask (I hope you're reading this, sir) publishes a book of all 400+ frames of the Zapruder film in the largest, clearest, most colorful format that technology can provide and takes a page to analyze each frame of the film. One frame per page accompanied by a page of analysis would amount to a holy grail of sorts for me and no doubt for all those who understand the importance of analyzing the history of November 22, 1963 through the numerous photographs and films taken on that day.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A treasure of a book. 11 July 2008
By H. Corbett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm almost finished reading this book and I must say that it is one of the best books about the Kennedy assassination. It has everything from the detailed history of the Zapruder film to a 16 page color section that includes the famous photos by Mary Moorman, James Altgens and Phil Willis, to over 100 black and white photos and diagrams of Zapruder frames and rarely seen photos and still frames from other movies made that day. I took the advice of another review on this board and bought the book with the DVD 'Image of an Assassination'. When the book references frames from the Zapruder film you can view the DVD to see exactly what it is the author is talking about. What else can be said about a book that comes in it's own wrapper. Probably a lot. A treasure.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Silent Film That Wasn't Funny 6 Mar. 2011
By Trisha Koerner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
National Nightmare on six feet of film by Richard B. Trask was a great book! I am an avid reader of anything relating to the Kennedy's and anyone that thinks that JFK's murder was anything other than a conspiracy needs to read more on the subject.
This book took Zapruder's home movie basically frame by frame and let the reader know what was happening. How many have seen the film? It is a very good film. However, if a person is shot from behind as JFK supposedly was, the head shot would not have thrown him backwards. It would have thrown him forward. If Oswald shot JFK with the bolt action rifle he used he could not have got off as many shots as were fired with a bolt action rifle and one that had a bent scope.
Zapruder also stated in the book that he was standing on a concrete pedastal taking the movie at the time of the shooting and heard shots from behind him and then saw someone running. That is what he told the police that day.
There is also photos in the book of Detectives finding a bullet by a sewer. The photo is of them examining it. These are things that were never brought up in the Warren hearings. Why? Also in the movie and in the book you can see a young family on the grassy knoll that lay down immediately when the shooting starts. The father is half covering his family with his body to protect them. They are all looking back at the wooden fence at the top of the grassy knoll. Why? If the shooting was coming from another direction would they not be looking in that direction?
The facts and photos in the book are very interesting. The interest in the film after the shooting is interesting. From the government to the police to Life Magazine. I question alot. Why were there not Secret Service on the car? Why would LBJ not leave Dallas "before" he was sworn in as President?
Read the book. Carefully look at the pictures. It will open your eyes on alot of things. You will become aware of things you did not know before. Valid things. Read it! You won't be sorry!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Regurgitates party line; mocks those who challenge authenticity. 17 Mar. 2015
By JT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Trask's behavior in this book makes Robert Groden look trustworthy. Trask joins Groden in the Hall of Shame on page 282 of his book where he withholds the explosive discoveries and proofs of the 2003 Fetzer symposium. Trask doesn't give any details except to flippantly give his personal opinion that he doesn't think much of it. Trask puts the nail in his coffin as far as I am concerned by not presenting the details of John Costella's shocking new research and then either agreeing with or refuting Costella's position.

Instead, Trask turns into a schoolyard bully and will not use his name but only refers to him as "an overseas researcher". Are you kidding!? What crass jingoism and bigotry! Trask tells the reader nothing of the research of this "overseas researcher" (who even uses the term "overseas" anymore?). Trask only gives the irrelevant fact that this "overseas researcher" is new to JFK assassination research in a childish and shameful attempt to impugn his work by implying that because he is a new researcher to the topic somehow his research is not worth discussing!

Well, I am familiar with what the "overseas researcher" has exposed through his research and it is nothing less than scientific proof that the Zapruder film is inauthentic. That's a big deal. Don't you think? Apparently, Trask who is a self-declared neutral party, in this book on the Zapruder film does not think the research of a scientist who has proved the Zapruder film is a fraud is worth mentioning.

Contrary to Trask's unfounded dismissal, Costella's presentation it is VERY worth seeing. Check it out on Youtube. Just search for John Costella and JFK and you'll find a 2003 symposium where he destroys -- absolutely obliterates -- any notion that the Zapruder film is an unaltered original out-of-camera film.

Of ALL the researchers Trask the bigot mocks, berates and belittles as "alterationists" the one who blows Trask's position out of the water is John Costella. Trask gives no explanation of Costella's research and won't even use his name! I used to think Trask was respectable. Not anymore.
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