Skip to main content

tv   The Presidency Abraham Zapruder and JFK Assassination  CSPAN  December 20, 2017 12:30pm-2:00pm EST

12:30 pm
communi communism, the negro, and the national security. >> sunday at 4:30 p.m. eastern, former members of congress and vietnam war veterans reflect on lessons learned and ignored during the war. >> we learned the limits of military power during the vietnam war. we learned that as a society, as a culture, that you can't kill an idea with a bullet. >> american history tv this weekend, only on c-span3. >> president john f. kennedy was assassinated on november 22nd, 1963, in dallas, texas. abraham zapruder filming jfk's motorcade captured the moenl nlts that the shots struck the president. up next, his granddaughter talks about her book "26 seconds, a personal history of the zapruder film." the center for presidential history both at southern methodist university, co-hosted
12:31 pm
this 90-minute event. >> good evening, everyone. welcome back to the hilltop. welcome back to smu, to dallas hall. and also, a joint program tonight between our center for presidential history and our klemmant center for southwest studies. always exciting when the two history centers here can come together and it's really wonderful for us, chronologically at least, the younger partner, you will, the klemmant center, has been the leading center for southwest studies for at least a generation, so we are still in our toddler phase, look up to them, and they also baby sit us, so it works out really quite nicely. i'm really thrilled to have you all here tonight for our continuing series looking at history and presidential history, especially since this one in particular, our talk tonight, has of course such a
12:32 pm
dallas flare to it. one might even say it's fundamentally a dallas story. of course, we all know, especially having gone through the last 50th anniversary of the fateful day in 1963, how much dallas is continuing to wrestle with what happened here, how much dallas is coming to terms with it, and in fact, i want to take a moment and point out one of our good friends, who is here from the sixth floor museum, which i said this in front of her before so i'm not embarra embarrassed to say it again, is to my mind the single best public history museum in the country. [ applause ] precisely because it actually takes a hard look at as much as possible. and that's what we're going to do tonight, especially with this, again, this dallas story. i also want to point out that you may have heard that about 25 years ago, in fact exactly 25 years ago, congress in its great
12:33 pm
infinite wisdom and foresight, not a phrase we usually associate with congress, they knew that we were going to have this event tonight. and consequently wrote the law specifically so that all of those jfk. documents would become available. i was just shown the phone ten seconds ago. president trump has decided to release most of the documents. which is great for us because that means that whenever we do a kennedy event going forward, we'll always have a bigger audience because people will always say, what about those other documents? so i guarantee you there's nothing of interest in those documents. i have not seen them, but i'm feeling very confident about that. in any event, we're here tonight to discuss a particular moment from that 1963 event. and in particular, a moment that you have all seen. one of the fascinating things to me about the entire sequence
12:34 pm
that we'll hear tonight about the zapruder film is how much because human memory is formed through images and through visual representation, you all have been to the site of the zapruder film in 1963. you all -- your memories actually have no idea that you were not there. because you're processing the information. and it's really become a way that that site, dealey plaza, has become a global site in many ways. you don't have to have ever been there to have been there. the person who really gave us that moment, well, we're going to hear that story tonight. we're going to hear it in particular from alexandra zapruder who began her career as one of the founding staff otthe national holocaust museum in washington, d.c. she graduated from smith college and subsequently got a masters degree in education from harvard university, and then in 2002, completed her first book entitled "salvage pages, young writers' diaries of the
12:35 pm
holocaust" from yale university press, which that year won the national jewish book award for the best book exploring the history of the holocaust. it was also subsequently made into part of a -- part of that turned into an mtv series called i'm still here, and she has recently come out in a second paperback edition. in november of 2016, she published this book, her second book. this is my personal copy. so i get this back. a personal history, 26 seconds, a personal history of the zapruder film, which is the subject of her remarks today. if you will please, help me in welcoming our speaker tonight, alexandra zapruder. >> thank you so much. can you all hear me? can y'all hear me? i want to thank andrew graybill,
12:36 pm
and also jeffrey engle for inviting me tonight. i'm so glad to see this great crowd of people. and of course, in the front row, my beloved family, my aunt myrna, who is abraham zapruder's daughter, my cousin erin's family is here, family and friends, and that always makes it extra special for me to be in dallas. so what i thought i would do is begin by talking a little bit about how this book came to be. in the years that i was growing up, i think it would be safe to say that the one thing that the zapruder family did not talk about was the zapruder film. we just -- it was something that was compartmentalized completely in our lives. it wasn't that we didn't know about it. it wasn't that i wasn't aware of it growing up, but it wasn't something that we ever really
12:37 pm
talked about. you know, i overheard my parents or i saw people stop my parents and ask them about our name. but i can't recall a single time in my childhood when i really asked a direct question about the film. what i knew growing up really were the stories about my grandfather that my father told about who he was, his sense of humor, his personality, his eccentric side, his jokes, his talents. but the film was something that was off to the side. and it might have stayed that way except that my dad got sick in 2004. and died rather young in 2006. and at some point during his illness, he said to me, you know, somebody really should interview me about the film. and i remember thinking, there's something -- he has something to say. but i didn't interview him.
12:38 pm
which of course i regret now. but it was not something that i could do, was not something that we could do as a family. and so after he died, i began thinking about the documents which were scattered around, things at my aunt's house, things in the lawyers' offices, things in my father's offices, papers, records, photographs. and i started to feel that it was important, would be important to bring these documents together and preserve them. and i was not alone in the family in thinking that this was something that we needed to do. and also to interview people who were close to our family or who were involved in the life of the film who might be able to shed some light on it. but what i realized is that i didn't -- i didn't know what to ask. i didn't know -- i knew nothing about the life of the film, really. the narrative, the story of our family's relationship to it was completely unknown to me. so even in order to begin to do this one first thing of conducting some interviews and
12:39 pm
gathering the papers and figuring out what about this body of material might represent, i needed to educate myself. so i started reading about the film, being, you know, a writer and someone who is curious about the past. and what i found as i began to read the books that had been published and the articles was that there were these gaps in the historical records. there were all these places where there were parts of the story that were missing. and there were parts of the story that had been told in the absence of any information from our family conjecture, assumptions. ways of interpreting our family's motives or our behavior. and i began to understand that our family's public silence had left out really a critical thread in the understanding of the film. and the essential piece of that is that when people wrote about the film, they forgot that it was a home movie.
12:40 pm
the centrality of the home movie was never lost to us. this was so personal for my grandfather. and it was so personal for our family. and all the decisions that he made and that my father made in later years grew out of our family's values. and our family's sense of what was important, and my grandfather's history, and that shaped the life of the film. and that private life was braided together with the public life in a way that had never really been explored. and if it hadn't been for that, i'm not sure i would have written this book because i don't think that i would have felt that there was a public story to tell. but i began to understand that only a zapruder could fill in those gaps, and in order to do that, i was going to have to become an expert on this topic that i had known nothing about for most of my life. so that is what this book does. and what i'm going to do tonight is just introduce you a little bit to the life of my grandfather and our family and
12:41 pm
talk about the taking of the film and how my grandfather's past influenced it and the life of the film over 50 years. so our grandfather was born in 1905 in imperial russia, that is him in his mother's arms in the photograph, the little blond boy, probably at the age of 2 or 3. his mother hannah had four children. they were extremely poor. they lived exactly in the circumstances of hardship and suffering that all jews would have in imperial russia at that time. anti-semitism, not being able to be educated, poverty, deprivation of all kinds. and his own father left russia where they were from in 1909 to come to america and left hannah with her four children.
12:42 pm
and they remained in russia until they did not reach the united states until 11 years later in 1920. during that time, there was, of course, world war i. there were many, many, many anti-semitic actions that took place in that region. unbelievable violence directed at the jewish community. and in 1918, of course, the bull shu vick revolution. sometime in those years, the brother, you can see, there's abraham, and there are three siblings. ida, who is all the way to the left. morris, the little boy in the middle, and fanny, the little girl to his right. at some point in those years, morris between 1915 and 1920, morris either died or was killed. the circumstances are not clear. and this photograph and this document shows hannah's emergency passport application. by this time, the father,
12:43 pm
israel, had gotten his naturalization, u.s. naturalization, citizenship. so she was able to apply for emergency passport from warsaw. and make her way to the united states. but by the time she did that, morris was almost certainly dead. and i think you can see the difference in her from the time of the first picture that was taken and her face in this later one after having lived through the war and 11 years of having been a mother to her four children alone and the loss of a son. the revolution, and trying to make her way to america. they arrived in 1920, were reunited with my great grandfather israel. and our grandfather was someone who in russia had always wanted
12:44 pm
to study and had always wanted to play music. he had a deep, deep, deep love of music, and was extremely talented. he was able to play music by ear. he never really had a lesson, but he was just -- this was a great passion of his. and when he came to america, he set about becoming as american as he could as quickly as he could, as many people did. i found this document in the family papers, his certificate of literacy, having gone to night school to learn english. this, like so many jews of this generation, of this time and place, he of course went to work on seventh avenue in the garment industry. this is his international ladies garment workers union booklet that shows inside that he paid his dues faithfully. i want you to know. and then this 1925 is abe in the middle with hair, which is not how he's usually seen. and holding a banjo with his friends in the lake.
12:45 pm
and i think it's so amazing to see that first picture of him, this little boy in imperial russia, and 20 years later, there he is with his bowtie on the lake with his friends. and embracing his new life in america as thoroughly as he could. i like to say that i don't know if this is true, my aunt is here, so she can correct me if i'm wrong, but i like to say our grandfather had three great loves. he loved music. he loved cameras and gadgets, and he loved my grandmother. and this is what she looked like standing in front of the tenement that they both lived in. that's how they met. they were living in the same tenement on beaver street in brooklyn. in 19 -- i believe this picture was taken in the early '30s, and she really loved him from the
12:46 pm
very beginning. she was just smitten or so i was told, by alice, who was her oldest friend from the tenement. she set her cap at him and that was it. they married in 1933, and here they are at niagara falls, where else. and the thing about my grandfather that is so relevant for this story because so far, this story is probably like a lot of your parents' or grandparents' stories. it's extremely familiar. coming to this country very poor, becoming american. embracing a new life. for my grandfather and my grandmother, being american, snappy dressers, not having an accent, you know, embracing a social life, adopting american ways, was deeply important to them. my grandfather wanted to shed everything that had to do with the old ways, with russia. and with everything that that represented. his older sisters, on the other hand, and his parents, were not so successful in doing that.
12:47 pm
and it was something that i think he saw that they were just of an age where it was that much harder for them to, you know, really let go of the past. but as a boy of 15 coming to this country and coming of age here, this was incredibly important to him. the other thing i should say is they went to the other thing that they did on their honeymoon was to go to the 1933 chicago worlds fair, and the theme of the worlds fair was a century of progress. and that really encapsulates this other great love of his, gadgets, cameras, anything that represented modernity. he loved to tinker around the house and wire things and make things work more efficiently. this waw something that really gave him an enormous amount of pleasure, and of course, that relates intimately to him becoming such a home movie enthusiast. so this briefly shows you, they
12:48 pm
moved to dallas in 1941. here they are together in dallas. a picture that i think really captures something of their rapport. i should have said in the beginning that i never knew my grandfather. he died when i was 11 months old. every i know about him i know from stories and from interviews and from the photographs, and i always grew up with a sense of his absence. and this book gave me an opportunity to fill in a great many gaps about his story and who he was. and then here is with my grandmother and my aunt myrna, my adorable aunt myrna sitting right here in the front row. and my dad looking adoringly at his father. they eventually moved out to marquette street in highland park. and really attained the middle class. you know, did exactly what one was supposed to do coming to
12:49 pm
america as an immigrant. so we'll fast forward now to 1963. here's my grandfather. this is how most people are used to seeing him. and with his receptionist marilyn, who i had no idea she was so hot. until i found this picture. i mean, she's kind of fabulous, right, with the cigarette and everything? so you know, this is a good moment to sort of talk about the zapruders and the kennedys, because at this time in the early 1960s, everyone in our family were devoted kennedy supporters. my grandfather and grandmother, of course. my aunt had volunteered for the campaign, and my dad, one of the amazing things that happened in the course of this research is i found, well, first, one of these letters, there was a letter that
12:50 pm
my father had written to senator kennedy during the campaign that came to me through gary mack, the former curator of the sixth floor museum, and then when i was corresponding with the. he was just about to graduate from harvard law, and he wrote a beautiful letter pleading for a job, and saying, you know, want to be part of the new frontier, you ask not what my country can door mimi what what i can do for my country. i'm asking, what can i do? it represented for me not only a window into my father as a young man and very much an idealist and also into this time, but also the depth of attachment that our family had for president kennedy and the kennedys as so many other people
12:51 pm
did. this was not something that came about retroactively but something that existed from the very beginning. on the morning of november 22nd, 1963, you a you will will recognize of course -- usually i have to show people this map and so them where my grandfather was standing but i have a fooling in this particular room i could dispense with that activity. my aunt myrna and ruth andrewings who is here also in the front row went down to love field to welcome the president and the first ladied and were there at this moment when they got off the plane. my uncle was waiting on main street looking out of his office building to see the motorcade go by. and my grandfather had, that morning, gone to his office, which was located at 501 elm street just adjacent to where
12:52 pm
the motorcade was going to pass by and had said several days before that he planned to bring his movie camera. i should have said by now, 1963 -- he started taking home movies in 1934, when my aunt was a baby. and there are a lot of -- i mean, forgive me, but really boring, right, home movies of her taking a bath and of her waking up from a nap, and her sitting and eating in the high chair. just like everybody else's home movies of the children growing up in new york and then in dallas. he was really someone who had been taken home movies for a long time. and he was quite good at it. in the previous year he bought some of you may have seen coming in, the bellen howell director series zoomatic camera. he brought this brand-new top of the line camera. but he had left it home that day. and it's such an interesting story. people have always said, this as
12:53 pm
great example of where being a zapruder helps. always the story of he forgot it. or it was rainy or he thought he was too short. but the truth is that he was always, as i've learned, always a little reticent, hesitant to put himself forward, insecure, perhaps because he hadn't had an education, he was an immigrant to this country. he left the camera at home. when he got to the office, lilian rogers a long time assistant and dear friend of the family basically nagged him until he went home to get it. and people always say, this is so amazing, this is so incredible. this is such a twist of fate. but if you knew him and her, you knew this is how everything happened in their relationship. he hesitated, she nagged. he demured. she nagged a little bit more and then he did it. that's how it went. so, again it's this weird way in which for me i understood at
12:54 pm
some point as i began to do this work that i knew things that i didn't even know i knew. you know, i didn't know the history of the zapruder family, but i knew the zapruder family, i knew how things worked. i knew our story. and those were the pieces that could be put together with this bigger history to tell it in a fuller way. he went down to dealey plaza with the camera, scouted out a spot. again, being quite a good photographer, he tried a couple of locations before eventually settling on this four foot high little concrete abutment where he stood, set the camera to full zoom. he had marilyn, the hot receptionist, standing behind him because he had vertigo, to make sure that he didn't get dizzy. laugh will i'm just saying. --
12:55 pm
[ laughter ] i'm just saying. and waited for the motorcade to pass by. so i'm going to -- i'm going to let my grandfather take over. and some of you may have seen this short interview that i gave describing what he saw that day. >> a gentleman just walked in your studio that i'm meeting for the first time as well as you, this is wfa tv in dallas, texas, may nature your name. >> my name is abraham zapruder. >> mr. zapruder. >> zapruder, yes, sir. >> would you tell us. >> i got out half an hour early to get in a good spot to shoot some pictures. and i found a spot, one these secret blocks they have near the park near the underpass. i got on top there, and there was a girl from my office who was behind me. as i was shooting, as the president was coming down from houston street and making his turn, it was about halfway down
12:56 pm
there, it a shot. and he slumped to the side like this. then i heard another shot or two, i can't say whether it was one or two and i saw his head practically open up, all blood and everything. and i kept on shooting. that's about all. i'm just sick. >> i think that pretty well expresses the entire feelings of the world. >> yeah. che >> that interview was taken, was made within hours of the assassination. what now has been pieced together about the events of that immediate afternoon were that immediately after the assassination, of course, our grandfather knew exactly what had happened and knew for sure that the president was dead, which -- no one else around him knew this. he got down from this concrete
12:57 pm
ledge and was distraught, screaming that the president was dead, that he had been killed. and was sort of dazed on the plaza and was approached by harry mccormick, who was a reporter for the dallas morning news who saw him with the camera and said what do you have, do you have film of what happened? and our grandfather immediate heely responded that he needed to talk to the federal authorities, immediately aware that there was going to be -- the minute that the press got wind of this, this was going to be something to contend with. but that he had to be in touch with someone from the federal government. so harry mccormick knew forest sorels, who was the head of the secret service in dallas and said he would go find him and bring him back to jennifer junior's, my grandfather's dress manufacturing company. my grandfather went to the
12:58 pm
office. there waiting was payne, and another reporter from the dolls morning herald who interviewed him at that very moment. the notes from that interview, the handwritten notes are incredibly powerful and poignant. and they are in the archives of the sixth floor museum. my grandmother immediately tried the reach my grandfather, first calling my home, our father -- i should have mentioned this. my parents meanwhile -- my dad had gotten a job in the justice department working for bobby kennedy. his long awaited dream job working in the administration. they married on october 1st, 1963 and had come to washington. this was two weeks after he had started this job that he had wanted so much. and my grandfather was able to get my father on the phone. and the way that my father remembered this is that he was distrauchltd he was crying. he kept saying over and over again that the president was dead. but the thing that stood out to
12:59 pm
me when i read this account that my father had given was that he kept saying that he couldn't believe this happened in america. he coop believe that the president could be shot down like a dog on the street. and again, i think it takes knowing his past to understand that he had just been a witness, and the recorder of this moment that belonged to the exact past that he had fled from. this was exactly the kind of senseless violence, political assassination, something being dragged to of a train and killed, that he had left behind in russia for america because of everything that america represented. and although i don't think that he could have put that into words in that way at that moment, the fact that he kept emphasizing that he couldn't believe it happened here i think speaks so much to the particular irony of him having been the
1:00 pm
person who caught this on film and what it really many for him to be that person witnessing it in that particular moment. there was not time to think about that then. things happened very quickly. forest sorels, the head of the secret service in dallas came to jennifer juniors. they set out to try to get the film developed. and here is another very important, one of those little moments, things that happen in history that change the course of history in ways that you couldn't predict. forest sorels did not in that moment say mr. zapruder we are going to take your camera with the film in it and get it developed and we'll be in touch with you. he said let's go see if we can get the film developed. so they set off together. and this interview was done at wfaa, where they went to try to get the film processed unsuccessfully. went on to kodak. and at the kodak labs, forest sorest learned that oswald had
1:01 pm
been arrested and was called back to secret service headquarters. as he was leaving he said to my grandfather, if it comes out, would you give us a copy? and my grandfather said, sure. and that was that. it was one of the things about this story that i thought so much when i was writing it is that you cannot forget that it was 1963. it's moments like this that remind you of a time when that would have been an interaction between these two people over this object instead of it being immediately swarmed upon and understood as something that could potentially of enormous significance. it took the rest of the day to get the film developed, to get duplicates made, to deliver two copies of the film to the secret service in dallas. and by the end of the night, my grandfather came home in his car with the original camera, the original film, and a copy of the
1:02 pm
film with him, walked into the house and without saying anything to anybody set up the projector and showed the film to my grandmother and my uncle. my aunt reports that she was much too distraught to watch the film at that time. and i ended up beginning the book with this story of the film being shown in the den of the zapruder family home on the night of november 22nd because i think, again, it puts the film where it belongs, understood as home movie, exact the way that the films had always been shown n the den, to the family. that even though this had this tremendous significance it was nevertheless deputily deeply personal to him. and that was something that never changed that night, before my grandfather could go to bed he got a call from the l.a.
1:03 pm
bureau chief of life magazine who had come to dallas, learned my grandfather's name, looked him up in the phone book and called the house wanting to know if he could come over and see the plim. this is a photograph of a young dick stally. immediately, my grandfather understood, i think, the outlines of the problem that was facing him. there was going to be a media frenzy over this film. he was traumatized of course, deputily fearful that it would be exploited or used in a way that was not in keeping with his values but aware that he needed to be rid of it, that he wasn't going to be able to keep it and that he had this object in his hands that he was going to have to figure out something, what to do with it. and in that context, i think that the call from dick stally was probably something of a relief. because of course life magazine
1:04 pm
was very much beloved, a very trusted pictorial manage scene at the time. they were decent, respectful people. they had a relationship with the kennedy family. and i think he felt in that moment that this might offer him a way out of the situation, a way to entrust it to someone, to an institution that would treat it respectfully but also not have to keep it. and that is in fact what happened. i'm not going to take too much time to go into all the details. you can read the book. [ laughter ] if you want to. but i will just say that over the course the weekend first print rights were sold on saturday morning, and then the film rights on monday. there was an unbelievable frenzy in the office on saturday, a scene that i described in great detail over with the reporters desperately trying to get their hands on the film and trying to quins my grandfather to sell to them and not to richard stally.
1:05 pm
and then a rather colorful episode with dan rather that occurred on monday and i'll just leave that there. one of the things that -- sorry. wait, there is one more thing here. oh. one of the things that made -- this is a little bit out of order, but -- one of the things that made this story complicated. wow, we are just missing a slide. huh. that's interesting how that happens. okay. one of the things that made this story very difficult for me to take on was that there was a moral dilemma at the heart of it, a moral dilemma that my grandfather was very much aware of. i'm actually going to go back to this one. -- that my grandfather was very much aware of. and that kind of reverberated through our family even though
1:06 pm
we didn't talk about it. and that was the offers thibvio how does one ultimately financially profit from a national tragedy like this without taking a moral hit. this was something that plagued by grandfather over the weekend of the assassination, what to do. he couldn't keep the film. he knew he needed to get rid of it. it also presented a financial opportunity. the truth is he grew up incredibly poor in russia and i think anyone can understand how hard it with to walk away from that in that moment. and yet it felt wrong. it felt like there was something it that was deeply unpalatable to him and even perhaps contrary to his values. so he struggled enormously over those days trying to figure out what to do. and ultimately, what he did, i think, is that he walked the line. and by that i mean he did sell to it life magazine. he sold it for $150,000.
1:07 pm
but he made life promise to treat the film with dignity and in good taste, which is in the contract. if you can just stop and imagine for a moment a contract with a major magazine that requires that they handle this film with dignity and good taste. that's the last time that ever happened. i can tell you that right now. but also that they would defend the copyright, prevent the film from being exploited or sensationalized or from being widely distributed in illegal copies. and most of all, he decided to donate $25,000 of the money that he got to the widow of the officer who was shot of course in the texas theater. j.d. tippett. i think he was trying the fine a way to find a balance, not to give it away, not the walk away from the money but also not to sell it to the highest bidder to put certain things in place to try to protect it and to do
1:08 pm
something good with the money that he had. and this kind of balance would be repeated throughout our family's life again and again and again. every time we had to deal with the film and we faced this kind of a dilemma, that was more or less the approach that our family took. so the middle section of the book -- i'm going to shift gears mere because for 12 years from 1963 to 1975 the film was owned by life magazine, not by our family. and one of the great things that happened in the course of my research was that i went to life magazine's archives and i asked if i could see all the files related to the zapruder film fully expecting them to say no. and they said sure, and they just turned them over, which was just unbelievable, actually. and what i ended up finding in
1:09 pm
these hundreds of pages was this very revealing i think and important story about the beginning of the life of the zapruder film in america and the dilemmas that began to swirl around it from the very beginning which only grew greater and greater and greater over the years. these are -- some of you will recognize these images of life magazine. the first one printed on november 29th of the film in the issue about the president's assassination. and then this one in color from the memorial edition. from the very beginning, life magazine faced its own dilemma, which was how to use the zapruder film with dignity, how to balance the public's need to see this, these images, or desire to see these images with the very strong editorial feeling on the part of the editorial board that these were
1:10 pm
inappropriate as indeed they were at the time and that the american public shouldn't see them, shouldn't see them because they were disrespectful to the president and shouldn't see them because they were too violent and too graphic. this basic problem remained the problem for life magazine for the 12 years that they owned it. but with each passing year the pressure grew on life magazine to make this film available. of course with the warren commission and then later the conspiracy theories that began to grow and the suspicion that the warren commission was -- the conclusions of the commission were inaccurate. the fact that people could not see the film continued to feed this sense that something was being held back. in reality, life magazine was not in collusion -- the records clearly show that life magazine wasn't in collusion with the federal government to hide something from the american people. but they were really reflecting a time when there was a strong
1:11 pm
sense that this was something that people shouldn't see. and even as that changed, they were protecting their financial and commercial interests in the film. they did not have way to show it as a film. and they didn't want to give it to somebody else like cbs news for example, who wanted to see it and requested repeatedly. so instead they kind of just sat on it. and the more they sat on it, the more frenzied the desire grew to see the film. all of this is even more complicated by the fact -- and i'm going to just -- this is just a little sense of some of the documents. all this was further complicated by the fact that gradually starting in the late '60s versions of the film began to leak out. and people began to see it. and when they saw it, because of
1:12 pm
the way that the film looks, it did not look like what the warren commission concluded. you all know what i'm talking about. it looks like the president was hit in the front of the head. even if you leave that the president was hit in the back of the head by lee harvey oswald it still looks like he was hit in the front of the head. so there was this intrinsic problem which was every time someone saw it it seemed to be further confirmation that life magazine was hiding the film because of the findings of the warren commission. this was a tremendous tension that took place inside life magazine and this rising pressure. walter cronkite went on the air and criticized life magazine for not making it public. bootlegs began to get out. there were lawsuits against life magazine.
1:13 pm
eventually, in 1969, there was of course the famous clay shaw trial. jim garrisson in new orleans accusing businessman clay shaw of conspiracying to kill the president. and there was a subpoena to to get the film and to show it. this is the officers time the film -- this is now 1969. the first time the film was ever shown in a public setting in the courtroom. and as you can see, this is the headline of the new orleans state's item. our grandfather was compelled to testify, much to his regret. he did not want to testify, but he did. and one of the outcomes of this trial was that jim garrisson, who got a hold of a copy of the film through his subpoena set about making as many bootleg copies as he could and
1:14 pm
distributing them as widely as he could. and one of the very interesting things for me about this is that of course this wasn't what our family wanted. but there is a way in which you can understand that the people who were bootlegging the film and the people who were driti g distributing it really believed that there was a cover-up and there was truth being suppressed and that they were doing the right thing. so the thing about this book that i found so fascinating in the end is that at so many different junctures there are people who vehemently disagree with one another but no one is really wrong. you know, people are reflecting different times or different values or different spirits or a change in culture, but ultimately, the desire to see this film was something that simply couldn't be suppressed. and yet life magazine was not in the position to make it available for all the reasons that i said. there is the conundrum that
1:15 pm
continued to get played out over and over again. this is a photograph of our grandfather, who died on august 30, 1970. and five years later the film was returned to our family. it was heraldo rivera aired a bootleg copy of it on his program. it was the first time it was seen on national television again amid this increasing pressure, sense of there had been a conspiracy, that the zapruder film showed the truth. that until the zapruder film was made public that this truth would always be suppressed. and life magazine by this point had really had it. there was nothing in it for them. they couldn't use the film because they couldn't do so in keeping with the terms of their contract, essentially. there was no way the use the plim in good taste. it it's not -- it can be shown in good taste. it's not in good taste. there was no way to do it. the records show efforts to do a
1:16 pm
documentary or partner with a director but it always somehow fizzled. and all the criticism coming at them from all of these different quarters. and then finally the bootlegs which they were contractually obligated to defend the copyright but it was impossible to defend that. no one could defend the copyright. that's all they would have done. in one of the memos the executive says i get it from all sides, from the networks, i get it from the public, i get it from the zapruders. you know, they had it. so they decided they were going to get rid of it. and here's another part of the story -- my aunt is shaking her head because she knows what's coming. there was always sort of a -- you know, the story was always known that life magazine returned the film to our family and we paid $1 for it. that was always well-known. but what people didn't know is that the force behind that
1:17 pm
decision was my grandmother, who was -- i mean force is the right word. she was a force of nature. for all those who knew her you can testify to that. and she felt very, very strongly that the film should be back in our family, that this is what her husband would have wanted, that it was our responsibility, perhaps that it might have some value some day. i hate to say it but that's true. and no one else in the family really wanted to deal with it. and life magazine would have been happy to donate it to then library of congress or the national archives, but my grandmother basically, to use a yiddish expression hawked my father until he agreed to negotiate with life magazine pour the return of the film. i like this because this is how history happens. it really does happen just
1:18 pm
inside families. my grand another is not a historical figure, not known in the world yet she exerted her will in a certain way that completely changed the life of the zap dap film and had all of these reverberating effects that no one would have been able to anticipate and that only now are we able to look back and to see. when my father got the film back, in 1975, he inherited all the problems that life magazine had not dealt with. that is how to make it available to the public, on what terms, for how much money, when, why, who. and all i can say is that this is the last thing in the world that he wanted to do. but he did it. and the story of the next chapter, which is really the last chapter of the life of the
1:19 pm
film is really about this very difficult problem of figuring out inside our family, andlely my father most of all how to respond to the growing public demand and interest in access to the film while also respecting our family's values, our grandfather's wishes for the film and the sense that it shouldn't be exploited. it shouldn't be sensationalized, it should be used with respect. there's no clear-cut answer. and this is something that i wrote about in the book. you know on one end of the spectrum he could have put it in the public domain which is what a lot of people wanted and made it available to everyone for free under any set of circumstances. but as he said to me, one of the few things he actually ever said to me about this, when i asked this question, he said you know, then it would be on hats and t-shirts down on the national
1:20 pm
mall and we can't have that. we cannot allow that. this is our name. this is our gran father and his wishes. we can't allow this to happen. on the other hand, he also cooperate say no like life magazine did, to everyone and refuse to allow people to see it. that time had passed. and so what was the middle ground? the middle ground was to respond individually to every single request. hundreds of requests a year. every single one, is this a -- and the other thing he didn't want was to be a sensor. he said, i don't want to be in the position of deciding whether or not it is right for someone to use it or wrong for someone to use it. and yet someone had to bear that responsibility. it was a thankless task, let me just tell you. there was no approach that he could take that he was going the satisfy everyone. as a result what he set about doing was to develop a policy that really reflected our
1:21 pm
family. he made it available for free to anyone who wanted it for scholarly purposes or educational purposes, teachers, students, kids who were right writing their report on president kennedy. but when there was a desire to use it for commercial purposes he charged for its use. and that was really those were the broad rounds. but the last thing that i will say about that is that the other thing about the life of the film and writing this book that was so fascinating is that times kept changing. so it's not just that the film, it had to reflect our family's values or there was sort of an approach that you could take. but as the culture changed, as -- after following watergate for example, and a rise in the sense of the possibility of conspiracies that were in fact true covered up by the government, and changing technologies, all of these things meant that with each
1:22 pm
passing year these questions had to be looked at anew. it wasn't severimply make a decn and hang onto it the whole time but rather it was something that was going to have to be decided and then decided again. how am i doing for time? i'm okay? oh, until -- okay. i know. she's in charge. yeah. she's in charge. so that all sort of was -- everything was sort of going along. my dad had sort of more or less figured out a way to deal with the film. i went through all of the legal records, all of the license requests, every single one for the years 1975 until 1992. what i found was exactly in the way that my grandmother had shaped history unwittingly, my
1:23 pm
dad's secretary shaped history, too, because he deferred to her very often when he did not want to make a decision about the film. he allowed her to make a decision. this was something that was being -- that was functioning inside, really inside our family in a very kind of small scale way until 1992 when oliver stone's movie "jfk" came out. of course this is the esquire cover. they requested the use of the im from. it was granted. and it was as you all know, oliver stone's film that led to the passage of the jfk act on october 26th, 1992. exactly 25 years ago. the result for our family of the passage of the jfk act was that the film, which had been put in safe keeping in the national
1:24 pm
archives in 1978, became caught up in this effort to make everything that belonged to the federal government that was related to the kennedy assassination available to the american people. it triggered a question. did the law mean that the federal government was taking the zapruder film under the takings clause of the constitution, taking the film from our family, taking possession of it? and for those of you who don't know, i'll just briefly give you this very brief outline. you know how this works the takings clause, if you have a house and the government decides that they want to build a highway through and it tear it down they have to pay you just compensation for your home. how do they determine just compensation? comparables. how do they find comparables? how much are the houses worth that are on either side of our house or on your street.
1:25 pm
what are the comparables for the zapruder film? what's going to happen if the federal government decides that they are going to take the original zapruder film and they are going to have to pay our family just compensation for it? this was the last thing that my father wanted. he did not want the federal government to take the film. not because he didn't want the federal government to have the film but as he said to me several times, why would they take a film they already have? it's in the national archives. et cetera a not going to move. it's already there. but if they take it then they are going trigger this process by custom the american taxpayers are going to be on the hook for just compensation. and my dad was, irony of ironies, a tax attorney. so he understood exactly what this meant in a way that perhaps another person wouldn't. and i really -- this was a very difficult part of the book to write because i adored my father. and i -- you know, i wanted to
1:26 pm
be fair and be truthful. and it seems disingenuous to paint him as someone who, you know, didn't care about the money. but truth of the matter is that when it came to the original zapruder film which was sit nlg the national archives our family never thought about the financial value of that as an artifact. it honestly had never occurred to anyone. but when this happened it suddenly threw our family into this dilemma of allow the government to take it, fight the taking, don't fight the taking, fight for just compensation, don't fight for just compensation, which was a battle that ended up going on for -- for nine years. these are just a handful of the articles that were published. i was in my 20s when this was happening. so i was a little more aware although really not fully aware of just how complicated this
1:27 pm
was. and here i think it's important to say that, you know, we were always very aware that our grandfather was a private citizen who was thrust into a public role. and each this strange name, zapruder, that is not easy to dodge. you know, when people talk about the zap didn't film they are not talking about somebody else. they are obviously talking about us. it's not the miller film or the smith film. and so i think the fact of our name and the uniqueness of our name and the attachment of our name to this film is also part of the story because it wasn't just our family's values, but you know, your name, and the virtue of a good name really means something to people. and it certainly meant something to us. but the other side of it was that our family was criticized in ways that were very, very painful and this was something
1:28 pm
that i really had to take on in the writing of this book. but not in a way that meant being instantly defensive. but trying to understand what is the other side? what were people criticizing? what were they reacting to? is there something in the other side that is legitimate? and what did my father's point of view represent? and all of this came about through interviews and trying to talk to people who knew my father and trying to think of what i knew about him in order to get the fullest possible picture of these very real dilemmas that do not have easy answers. the very last chapter of the book centers on the arbitration hearing. ultimately our family was not able to come to an agreement with the federal government. the federal government decided to take the film in 1997, but we were very far apart on price for just compensation, which i know will come as a giant shock to everyone in this room.
1:29 pm
so it was agreed to have an arbitration hearing. and the last chapter of the book is about this hearing. one of the things that is so fascinating about it is that while it is true that it's about money, it also is really about what the zapruder film had become. what does it represent in american life? what does it mean to the american people? how did its complex history shape it as an icon? how did its own story make it what it is? and how do you assign a monetary value to something that has become a national memory of a tragedy that was the light me rod for so many issues around media ethics, copyright, that was used in film, literature, and art as a sort of touch point for issues around visual truths and what we even are looking at when we look at a film, and why this particular film doesn't do
1:30 pm
what film is supposed to do, which is to answer the question of what happened to the president. all of these things became part of this dialogue and debate about what the film represented. with that, i'm going to finish by reading just a very brief part of the epilogue to the film -- epilogue to the book. in which i attempted to sum up to some degree what the legacy, the public legacy of the film is. i also wrote about the private legacy, you know, for our family. i think there was something about this book that i didn't do it for this reason, but i understood afterwards that, you know, everyone needs a story.
1:31 pm
you need a story in your family. you need to understand where you came from and the forces that shaped who you are. and i understood that my parents and my aunts and my uncle and my grandparents were so wounded by the assassination, it was so deeply painful that they really didn't -- that is really why they didn't talk about it. and our association with it was painful. and so -- but the net result for our generation was that we didn't have -- we didn't know the story. and there was something about pulling it into the light and constructing it, facing all the scary questions, looking at the moral dilemmas, among other things, that i think -- i think it was -- was important and healing for all of us to move past this idea that there was something to hide or that there
1:32 pm
was something to be ashamed of or that there was some dark secret that might be lurking. but rather than, you know, at the end of the day we are just people like other people. we did the best we could, just like other people do the best they could. not always perfect. but the thing that i always come back to, especially with my grandfather and my father is that they dealt with these problems with humanity. they did doctor they took it seriously and they did the best that they could. so that's the end of the story for us. this is the more on the public legacy. i'll finish by reading these two pages and then i'll be happy to take questions. . what is its public legacy? what is the compelling lore that makes the assassination researchers, the film, art, and cultural historians, the writers and journalists, the academics and students and hobbyists and
1:33 pm
kennedy buffs return to it time and again. i think because the zapruder film is in every way a conundrum. it contains its own irreconcilable dilemmas. it is a single strip of film in which we all see different things. it is shows the entire course of history changing under the influence of a single bullet. it is quite possibly the most important historical film ever made, and yet it is an amateur home movie. it is six feet of eight millimeter film on a plastic reel that turn out to be worth $16 million. it is the most private and the post public of reports. it is gruesome and terrible. but we cannot stop looking at it. but more than that, the deepest, most compelling conundrum of the film is an existential one. it lies in the arc of the film
1:34 pm
itself, the fall from grace, the unforgiving inevitability of it. it is a sunny day, a handsome husband and beautiful wife are riding down the street smiling and waving within less than half a minute his explodes and he is dead she is covered in his bloods and brains trying to recover his schedule skull from the trunk of the magazine. she is grace itself, and then sprawled across the back of the car. how can it be our i go lugss are stripped from us so quickly. most of us are able to liver our days exactly because we are not confronted with this vulnerability. the capriciousness of faith, the permanence of death. yet also the zapruder film. it exists and we cannot turn away even though we fear and it avert our eyes and we wish it would end differently every time. maybe it is the same impulse
1:35 pm
that causes us to watch the challenger explode in the bright blue florida sky or the twin towers crashing into lower manhattan on a crisp fall morning. it is because we ri resist the knowledge that hope sometimes turns to despair in an instant and tragedy comes out of nowhere on a beautiful sunny day. and paradoxically because steams we need to confront that very proof simply to feel the thing we feel cannot happen in order to touch for a moment the very limits of what we know about life and to remind ourselves of the fragility of it all. thank you. [ applause ] thank you. that was amazing and amazingly sincere and genuine and moving.
1:36 pm
we have the opportunity for questions. we also are being filmed this evening by c-span. so if you would not mind when you ask a question, please wait for the microphone so that we can record your own message for posterity. we'll argue over the copyright later. and then also if you wouldn't mind try to face the camera a little bit when you do it. so i will turn it over to you. >> okay. great. i hope that's not going to intimidate people too much from asking questions. we have got a gentleman here. run a mike over to him. see if it's working. yeah. do you want me to turn like this or -- whatever works. okay. my name is paul peters. my dad was one of the doctors that took care of kennedy when he was assassinated.
1:37 pm
and i have heard, you know, all the stories growing up, and i answered the phone when kennedy was assassinated, and when he called from the parkland er and said son i need to talk to your mom, the president has been shot. and he -- so that is vividly engrained my mind over the years. but i saw something interesting when you showed the picture of the esquire magazine, with that frame from your grandfather's film. >> uh-huh. >> the 50th anniversary of the assassination, my dad had passed away but i had dr. mcclellan who was also one of the main physicians there come and talk to the salesmanship club about his opinion on the assassination, as he is giving his presentation, a guy out in the crowd says can i come to the
1:38 pm
podium? i'm john conley's son. we were showing some frame by frame pictures of the assassination. and he wanted to point out something that he thought was important, you know, i guess for the conspiracy theories, et cetera. but when john kennedy was shot he grabbed his throat and sort of slumped to the side. and supposedly that same bullet went through john conley, through his lung and rested in his wrist. well, if you look at the frames, and actually the frame from esquire is probably the right frame to see, he is turning around looking at jfk, and jfk has already been shot. and so john conley's son said my dad said to his dying day that that bullet didn't hit him because he was able to turn around and look at kennedy with his hands on his throat slumped to the side and he hadn't been
1:39 pm
hit yet. >> this is a great example of -- i have heard this, that conley said that. although i'm really not versed in all of the ins and outs of what different people have said and what they believe. i think it is -- you know it's very telling. there are inconsistencies throughout the record that i'm not sure will ever be resolved. >> to give you an example. both my dad and dr. mcclellan were standing by jfk in his dying moments and both of them had different interpretations of what happened to him. >> that is the thing. and that is the thing about this film. of course this idea that you can look at it and look at it and look at it. and people are look at the same document and see different things and interpret it differently. and you know, it became -- something that i didn't talk too much about but one of the things that was so interesting is the cultural impact of the philip, that it became kind of a -- it
1:40 pm
began to reflect a kind of post modern dilemma. you know, what are the limits of visual representation? what is truth? how can you have a record of what happened that does not show you what happened? you know? or it shows you what happened in the largest sense, but not in the way that you need it to. and of course the famous movie "blow up" is a great sort of commentary on this. and don delow and other people over the years who picked up on this and reflected on you know sort of living in time when we don't have consensus over even the basic things that are before us. yeah. >> yes. i was wondering, how old were
1:41 pm
you when you first looked at your dad and said, why does everybody look at me funny when i say my name is zapruder? >> i don't think i ever said that because -- you know how it is. i mean, you grow up. you don't know anything other than what you grow up with. so i don't remember ever learning about the film. it was never like they sat me down and said, like, we have something to tell you. you know? but i always knew about it. i don't -- the only thing i can say is that -- and i began the book with this, after this little prolog about the home movie. the one thing that i do remember is that when i was 10 or 11 years old i went into my school library and got a copy of william manchester's "death of a president" and looked up my grandfather's name in the index
1:42 pm
and read the account of what had happened. and the truth is that i was just like any other, you know, 10 or 11-year-old girl. i mean my grandfather was famous. this was the coolest thing in the entire world. you know? i had no sense of the gravity of this. and this was what my parents impressed upon us. this is not something to brag about, not something to call attention to. you know, this is a terrible -- it was a terrible national tragedy. we would have preferred to have nothing to do with it. so that was the message that i got, very loud and clear. and you know, i will say that that was a message that was very hard to overcome in the decision to write this book, that one of the very hardest things about writing this book was to go so much against the prevailing culture in our family. even though i asked my family you know how they felt about it. at the end of the day the
1:43 pm
decision was mine. and to confront it and to be public about it in a way that our family had never wanted to be was a difficult, difficult choice to make. one that i don't regret now but certainly brought with it a great deal of complicated times. >> we are on tv, so you have to ask questions. [ laughter ] >> one of the thing that you talked about wonderfully in the book and tonight as well is the way in which a single human life can interact with a great moment unexpectedly. and it obviously ripples throughout time and ripples throughout our family i'm curious now that the book has come out and you have had a chance to have it being received have you interacted with other people -- i know there are no comparables but other people who had comparable experiences they
1:44 pm
were next to history, thrust into history, and have you been able to learn anything from their experiences? >> that's a great question. i mean, i think i have -- people like this gentleman who asked a question before, i think i've found there have been many people who have been near this history proximate to it in the way that i am. but also this book -- i mean the amazing thing to me about this story is how much it lives still in people's lives. you know, that -- so i was recently for example, at -- i don't remember where i was. i was somewhere. [ laughter ] i was in ohio. and paul landis, who was a secret service agent in the car behind the president came to this talk. so i have met a lot of people like that whose lives were changed by the assassination. and i just -- my experience of that really is that it's very
1:45 pm
hemib humbling, of course because my open connection to it is so distant in a way. but i'm also amazed by how -- nowhere more than in texas, but how much it lives in people. i mean, i gave a talk in houston and there was a woman who came. and she had a baggy with a ticker tape that she had gotten on the day of the parade. and she had it with her and wanted to show it to me. i mean, this is something that she started crying, you know, talking about this day and what it meant to her. so i think that is something that is very touching but also somewhat surprising, i think, that it lives on in this way for people. i don't know if that really answers your question. oh, good. >> did your father think that oswald worked alone? did he have any thoughts about
1:46 pm
it. >> both my father and my grandfather belief that oswald was the lone begunman. my grandfather was 58 years old when this happened and a rna imgrant and a deep patriot. the idea that he would believe anything other than the warren commission is unthinkable. it really is. i mean it wouldn't have been -- he was just of a generation where he just wouldn't have thought anything other than what the government said was true. and then he died in 1970. so really, he didn't live long enough to have any reason to really revisit that. my father was not a person who tended to believe in conspiracies. i mean, we used to tease him because he used to -- he used to say that he thought this whole thing with the ozone layer was ridiculous. and he wasn't really serious,
1:47 pm
but it was a little bit his attitude. you know, he wasn't someone who sort of -- wasn't -- you know, he wasn't cynical. he was a deeply humanist, optimist kind of person. so i think he also -- he believed -- he took that at face value. again whether he would have ever changed his views, i don't know. but i will just say one other thing, which is that i always laugh a little bit when people ask what we think because you really might as well pluck somebody to have street and ask them what they think happened. because we have no special knowledge. our relationship to this is, you know, through the film. but it isn't as if -- i would say in fact most of our lives we have known less than most people about the film and about what happened, really. et cetera a not something we have ever been students of, until now.
1:48 pm
just think it would be interesting to see how many people in the room were either here that day in dallas or went down to the parade or something if you want to raise your hand. >> yeah. >> who were in dallas at the time. yeah. yeah. that's great. thank you for asking that. >> did your father have any commentary about jack ruby and the shooting afterwards. >> can you say that again? sorry. >> did your father have any comments about jack ruby shooting os warwald everything. >>? >> i don't recall anything in a my grandfather or my father said about jack ruby. what i will say about that is that one of the things i learned in the course this work is that the fact that jack ruby shot and
1:49 pm
killed oswald was a huge game changer in the life of the film. because if oswald had been alive and there had been a trial, it would have been very different. but the zapruder film took on the role of the so-called unimpeachable witness, which was very problematic. and so that was an event that had mean repercussions. certainly one of them was that it elevated the significance of the film and some might say elevated in it ways that were not particularly helpful because it doesn't definitively show something that we can consider a consensus about what happened. >> i just arrived a little bit late. i apologize if i missed your comments, but did the kennedy
1:50 pm
family ever reach out to you to the zapruder family after or during all of this? >> not really. so kennedy's office requested that our grandfather be interviewed by william manchester and that she, you know kor know, cooperate with his efforts to write the book, which he did. that is the only contact that i know of. i don't think so. but one of the things that i think, at least for our generation, is that we would have tried very hard to avoid, you know, being in -- forcing a confrontation with the kennedy family. i think we always felt, you
1:51 pm
know, very uncomfortable in that we knew that -- i had said this in the book, that our film was their family's tragedy, you know, and we were never really able to forget that nor did we want to forget that. and so, i mean, one incredibly weird thing happened which was that when my twin brother and i graduated from high school, teddy kennedy gave the speech. and i remember my brother saying, you know, 20 years later, you know, i assume he left before they got to the "z"s. [ laughter ] >> and i hope he did, because the last thing any of us would want was for teddy kennedy to be sitting there thinking -- seeing alexander zapruder, so it was just that feeling.
1:52 pm
i assume >> i have a question that maybe you know some spoken to but actually to the gentleman whose dad was the doctor, one of the doctors in the room. since j.f.k. was catholic and they had called a priest for last rites because it came from our parish, but do you know if they let the priest into the operating room to do that? did either your father or his friend mention that he had the last rites there? because i was told that they kind of kept him alive until he could receive last rites. and i don't know if you spoke to anything like that in your book. >> no. >> that's my question. >> i'm off the hook for this one. >> i know that he really didn't leave the emergency room and he
1:53 pm
pretty much was dead when he got there, but he was still -- his lungs were still breathing, but the gunshot wound had pretty much got his brain stem. he passed away fairly quickly after he was there. i know that the priest did give the last rites. i don't know if it was right in that room . it wasn't in the operating room because he never went to the operating room. >> great presentation. really enjoyed it. you seem your family's kind of private. did your grandfather tell your father that he regrets having shot the film or bringing the camera that day when he had left it? >> i know. isn't that ironic? i don't know that he ever said anything specifically about the camera, but he definitely said many times that he wished that he had not taken the film.
1:54 pm
he was very -- i mean, my understanding is that he was really traumatized by what he had seen, that he had nightmares for years. that he was not only concerned about the exploitation of the film, but just the mere fact of having seen the murder at such close range i think stayed with him. he tended to, you know, dread the anniversary of the assassination. he took very few home movies after that. i mean, he just, i think -- i wouldn't say by any means that it, you know, ruined his life. he had lots of grandchildren that were born. obviously that was great for him. but i think it was very, very painful and i think he did -- i would say -- i think it's safe to say that he regretted it and wished that it had been no one or anybody but him. >> so i want to steal the
1:55 pm
prerogative of one last question. >> i can't believe nobody asked about the -- are you going to ask about the files? i love that nobody asked about the files. >> what do you think about the files? [ laughter ] >> i don't think anything about the files. [ laughter ] >> so i asked this, one historian to another, it is hard to avoid noting that a person such as yourself who grew up surrounded by what is essentially a primary document witness to history chose to make your career working in primary document witnesses to history both tragedies. >> yeah. i know. very cheerful person. my first book being about the holocaust. i know. i just have to say that my daughter said the next one has to be rainbows and unicorns after this. [ laughter ] >> she really did say that. she's 12. i think the thing for me is
1:56 pm
that, and this was so relevant both for salvaged pages for my first book and also for this one, that somewhere along the way i have this idea, not my own idea, not a new idea, but this sense that people in the past and people other than ourselves live in the fullness of their time exactly the way that we do. so in the past the complexity, the nuance, the dilemmas, all of that is real for people. and that we have this tendency when we look back and tell the stories of the past to flatten things and simplify them and that the work that i do as a writer is to try to reanimate that past and to inhabit it and see it from all the different sides. that was something that i did with these diaries that are collected in my first book. that was the tremendous challenge of this book was to
1:57 pm
try to get past the headlines and past the simply fi indication and past the judgments of what were the dilemmas. how did the executives at "life magazine" life in their time? how did my father live in time with this object? even the people who were critical of our family, who condemned our family for all of these things that they felt were wrong. and it's true that work is done around primary sources, but ultimately it's about people. that's what is most interesting to me. so thank you for the question. thank you. [ applause ] let me thank you all for
1:58 pm
coming but also remind you, of course, that there are copies of the book that you can take home and take home with a signature as well. so thank you for coming. and coming up later, the house rules committee will meet to consider a rule governing debate of legislation that would extend section 702 of the foreign intelligence surveillance act which authorizes the intelligence community to target the internet and phone communications of nonu.s. persons located outside the u.s. live coverage begins at 4:00 p.m. eastern on cspan3. you can also watch online at or listen with the free cspan radio app. this weekend on american history tv on cspan3, saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on lectures in history, american university professor aaron bell talks about privacy laws and federal surveillance of civil rights leaders. >> here's the head of the co-intel operations william
1:59 pm
sullivan shortly after the march on washington. we must mark king now if we have not before as the most dangerous negro in the future of this nation. >> sunday at 4:30 former members of congress and vietnam war veterans reflect on lessons learned and ignored during the war. >> we learned the limits of military power during the vietnam war. we learned that as a society, as a culture that you can't kill an idea with a bullet. >> american history tv this weekend only on cspan3. we're joined by kelly med rich. why dr tid have the house to ta up the tax reform bill? >> there are these obscure rules


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on