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 (Amazon listing here.) )
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.
Although this is a fine book, there are a few things I didn’t agree with, or that I found in error:
1) Wrone takes the speed of Zapruder’s camera as absolute, without mentioning anywhere (that I remember) the fact that slight variations of shutter speed, even on the same camera, are common. This does not affect the fact that the events of the film disprove the possibility of a single bolt-action shooter. It should just simply be mentioned that the 18.3 frames-per-second (if I recall correctly offhand) speed might have varied by a small amount.
2) A silly error involves a discussion of longtime talk-radio host “Long John Nebel.” For some goofy reason, both on page 177 and in the books index, the guy’s name is misspelled “Neble”!
3) The big error of fact involves something that doesn’t really impact the Wrone view that the Zapruder movie proves conspiracy. It’s just a contention that I disagree with and that is contradicted by tons of eyewitness testimony.
Wrone contends that there was no large wound to the back of JFK’s head. He feels that pretty much all damage was on the top right side; that the bullet fired from the right front (for example the knoll area) struck in the right temple area and immediately exploded (on purpose), blowing out a big hole roughly above the President’s right ear. From page 188:
“Some who saw this flapped skin caused by the damage from the front head would mistakenly believed they saw a wound in the rear of the head. Later the doctors fitted the pieces of the skull back into place like a grisly puzzle. They found no hole in the back of the president’s head.”
THIS IS JUST INCORRECT. No matter which “doctors” Wrone means, it is not true, by the doctors' own words.
PARKLAND DOCTORS: There are many films which contain video interviews with the medical staff at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital. Nearly each is asked to describe the President’s head wound. Nearly all of them make a fist with their right hand and place it against the right rear of their head, behind and above the ear, to show the location and size of the blown-out/blasted area.
Here is a page that tabulates witness descriptions of a rear head wound. If you do a web search of the phrase “JOHN F. KENNEDY'S FATAL WOUNDS” you will find a page with an exhaustive list.
Several doctors reported that when the President’s body was lying face-up in the emergency room suite, brain matter was leaking from a hole in the back (facing down) part of his head, including tissue easily identified by these professionals as from the cerebellum, a lower-brain area at the base and rear of the head.
AUTOPSY DOCTORS: Even though the autopsy was hamstrung and pretty much controlled by some high-up types in the crowded autopsy theatre, it was apparent that the back of the head was damaged, not just the side. In one book I’ve seen a drawing by one of the doctors of the outline of JFK’s head seen from the top, with a big area labeled “missing.”
I believe that Wrone puts forth this position because there’s an “establishment” doctrine that says there was a visible gunshot wound (supposedly of entry) in the back of JFK’s head, and Wrone wants to stay away from anything smacking of support for such an idea.
But he’s just wrong to say that there was not a large defect in the back (right side, but still back) of the President’s head after the shooting.
It is intriguing to me that in this HEAVILY FOOTNOTED book, Wrone gives NO CITATION to back up his paragraph stating that “doctors” reassembled the President’s head finding no rear damage.
Now, several pieces of bone were brought into the autopsy during its course. But the pieces produced by a wound don’t prove the wound wasn’t there! This is like holding out the shards of a broken vase and saying, “See? Nothing damaged here!”
Other than this discrepancy with the reports from multiple medical staff about this one item, I can wholeheartedly recommend this book as a great chronicle of a fascinating journey: the voyage of the Zapruder film (and others) from obscurity to the public consciousness as proofs of conspiracy in the murder of President Kennedy.
See you next time.