Max Holland reinterprets the Zapruder film

“What more can possibly said about the Zapruder film?” asks historian Max Holland in this May 7 talk at the 6th Floor Museum in Dallas. His answer: the first gunshot was fired before Abraham Zapruder began filming. He argues that the shooting took place over 11 seconds, meaning Lee Oswald had plenty of time to fire the fatal shot.

The presentation begins at 4:25. (Click here to start with Holland).

Holland’s findings revise the conclusions of fellow “lone gunman” authors Gerald Posner, Dale Myers, Larry Sturdevant, and Vincent Bugliosi who contended that Oswald fired all three shots in 6-8 seconds.

To his credit, Holland does seek to grapple with two key problems of the lone gunman theory–how could Oswald get off three shots in that time frame, when many expert marksmen could not–and how to explain the missed shot that wounded bystander James Tague.

As for themany other problems with the lone gunman theory Holland dispatches them all by invoking what he calls  a “consensus” about the nature and origin of the gunshots. His consensus is a consensus of like-minded authors only, a rhetorical sleight of hand that obscures the fact there was and is no consensus about the origins of the gunfire.

There was no consensus among 216 Dealey Plaza eyewitnesses, nor among the many law enforcement officers on the scene, nor among the doctors who observed JFK’s wounds. One of the Dallas doctors who saw JFK’s head wound close up, Robert McClelland said it could have only been caused by a gunshot from the front of the motorcade.

Of such credible evidence Holland has nothing to say, which is perhaps the most interesting thing about his talk, that he seems to have given up engaging the evidence.



  1. pat speer says:

    Max makes a number of mistakes in his presentation. At one point he even claims a witness saying the limousine was by a lamp post at the time of the first shot as support for his theory the limousine was just starting down Elm street at the time of the first shot, even though the video of this witness (Pierce Allman) shows him pointing down the street AWAY from the location Max is pushing.

    But Max is not alone in his avoidance of the unavoidable. When one reads through the witness statements it is clear there are a number of points that come up over and over again, and are indicative of what really happened. One of these is that the first of three shots heard by those around Kennedy…hit Kennedy. And another is that the last two shots (or sounds) were very close together, and suggestive of more than one shooter.

    As a footnote to this first conclusion–which the witnesses support by a score of 25-1, by last count–moreover, it should be pointed out that not one witness said a shot was fired, but that Kennedy paid it no never mind and resumed waving to the crowd.

    So, yes, while one studying the eyewitness statements might have trouble determining exactly what happened, one should have no trouble ruling out a number of scenarios that most definitely did not happen–as determined by an overwhelming consensus of the witnesses. And Max’s scenario is one of them. It did not happen. It’s pure moonshine, as daffy as anything cooked up in the conspiracy research community.

    And yet this completely unsupported theory/fantasy continues to find support in prominent newspapers, magazines, and television networks. This shows how very little the people working in these places know or understand about the assassination.

    So, at least in that light, Max and his wacky theory have provided us a service.

  2. Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

    The crazy notion of “eleven” instead of six seconds in Dallas is a Max Holland-Johan Rush joint venture written in 2007 for the History Channel’s web site and broadcasted in 2011 as The Lost Bullet for the National Geographic cable outlet: LHO would have fired and missed the first shot before Zapruder started filming, just after JFK limousine turned from Houston St. onto Elm.
    However, if LHO was ready to fire so early on Elm St., why wouldn’t he have fired an certain unfailing shot as the limousine was on Houston right below the sniper nest? And why did he miss?
    Holland argued the bullet firstly hit a traffic light, as if the shooter could have lined up the shot in disregard of that light and its metal pole.
    Anyway Holland’s lost bullet must be counted as the one hitting a curb about 400 feet away and raising the shard of concrete that hurt Jim Tague in the cheek. Since LHO allegedly used bullets coated in cooper and neither the curb nor the shards showed traces of it after forensic testing, Holland’s lost bullet ironically dismissed his hypothesis about LHO as the lone assassin.

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