Joan Mellen
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JIM GARRISON: His Life and Times, The Early Years

A new biography of the former District Attorney of Orleans Parish, Louisiana from his 1922 birth in Iowa and service in World War II - he was among those assigned to Dachau Concentration Camp the day after its liberation - to his years confronting the corrupt politics of Louisiana.

Jim Garrison would become the only public official ever to bring anyone before the bar of justice for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

This is the story of the man who took on that task. It explores Garrison's populist and democratic values, and how he attempted to reform the critical political system of New Orleans in the 1960s, particularly the abuses of B-drinking and other crimes rampant in the French Quarter.

"Jim Garrison: His Life and Times" explores with fresh new information political New Orleans of the fifties and sixties, rich in corruption, maneuvering on all sides, wit, the outrageous, and the courageous, (Jim Garrison was both).

This first biography of Jim Garrison, cradle to 1966, recreates

  • His family background: he was a descendant of William Lloyd Garrison of whom some Garrisons did not approve. "I confess that I did not like very well to claim relationship with Lloyd Garrison of Massachusetts of Abolition renown...he was a talented man, but rather eccentric in his views with regard to the African race in America," wrote Judge Thomas Garrison Stansberry.

  • Jim Garrison was unique in New Orleans of the period of being a staunch opponent of segregation and an advocate of civil rights.

  • Jim Garrison in the United States Army Air Force visited Dachau concentration camp the day after its liberation, and this biography chronicles the effect of this experience on Garrison for the remainder of his life.

  • The hilarious chronicle of how Jim Garrison, a reformer, became district attorney as a result of television debates modeled after the Kennedy-Nixon debates.

  • Garrison was a civil libertarian, a passionate defender of the first amendment. WHen the police seized James Baldwin's "Another Country" from a New Orleans bookstore, Garrison refused to charge the bookstore owner and vigorously opposed this censorship. "I never think of consequences," Garrison said as he followed his convictions, even when they violated received wisdom.

  • The Bourbon Street raids: Quarter life c. 1962 and what Garrison as a new district attorney did to change it. The story of stripper Linda Brigette, her "indecent" act, why she was arrested, and how Garrison broke his rule that his office not involve itself in pardons, by helping Linda escape her 30 day jail sentence. The book exposes as well police corruption, and how Garrison tried to create an office that would approach crime without fear or favor. Best is the inside expose of the practices French Quarter clip joints of Jim Garrison's day.
  • The Dombrowski case: a look into the arrest of three civil rights activists in New Orleans who were accused of Communist influence in their helping Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Garrison's role as Orleans Parish district attorney.

  • "Sacred Cows: why Jim Garrison was sued for criminal defamation by the judges of the Orleans Parish criminal court, the humorous trial, and the trajectory of this case, like the Dombrowski case, to the United States Supreme Court.

  • Although this book only touches on the Garrison's investigation into the Kennedy assassination, the foreword offers new details of the evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald was debriefed upon his return from the Soviet Union, a debriefing the CIA has always denied. An appendix re-examines the elusive figure of Jack Martin in the Kennedy case.

  • The notorious case of Leonard Caesar, a rapist, who was stashed for years at the Louisiana State Prison (Angola) and the efforts by Garrison's law school classmate, John R. Rarick, to offer him the opportunity to stand trial.

  • Jim Garrison emerges as a defender of the victims of racial inequality, and of censorship. His actions reveal him to be a supporter of the defendant, and a fierce proponent of the rights of the individual. It also reveals him to have been, in many ways, a man of his generation."The last perfect person walked the earth two thousand years ago," Garrison once said.

  • This volume takes us to the moment in 1966 when Jim Garrison began to investigate the Kennedy assassination.

Joan Mellen met New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison in 1969. His relentless search for the truth concerning President Kennedy’ assassination made a deep impression upon her. In 1997 Mellen began work on the story of Garrison’s life. This biographical project quickly focused on Garrison’s investigation and then initiated Mellen’s new investigation of the assassination itself. The preponderance of research material convinced Mellen to separate Garrison’s life and career on the pivotal case of the Kennedy assassination.

Her previous book, “A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK’s Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History,” is the story of Garrison’s efforts to solve that historic murder. This prequel, “Jim Garrison: His Life and Times, The Early Years” depicts Garrison’s life up to that point. "JFK's Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History."




JFK Lancer First Edition
Copyright © 2008 by Joan Mellen.

Printed in the United States
Cover design by Ken Jacobs
Book design by Debra Conway

ISBN Number 978-0-9774657-2-9
Over 300 pages
Perfect bound 6"x9"