Monday, October 18, 2021

Long on "How a New Orleans DA Prosecuted the Kennedy Assassination as a Sex Crime"

The University of North Carolina Press has published Cruising for Conspirators: How a New Orleans DA Prosecuted the Kennedy Assassination as a Sex Crime, by Alecia P. Long (Louisiana State University). The book is part of the Press's Boundless South series. A description from the Press:

New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison’s decision to arrest Clay Shaw on March 1, 1967, set off a chain of events that culminated in the only prosecution undertaken in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In the decades since Garrison captured headlines with this high-profile legal spectacle, historians, conspiracy advocates, and Hollywood directors alike have fixated on how a New Orleans–based assassination conspiracy might have worked. Cruising for Conspirators settles the debate for good, conclusively showing that the Shaw prosecution was not based in fact but was a product of the criminal justice system’s long-standing preoccupation with homosexuality.   

Tapping into the public’s willingness to take seriously conspiratorial explanations of the Kennedy assassination, Garrison drew on the copious files the New Orleans police had accumulated as they surveilled, harassed, and arrested increasingly large numbers of gay men in the early 1960s. He blended unfounded accusations with homophobia to produce a salacious story of a New Orleans-based scheme to assassinate JFK that would become a national phenomenon. 

At once a dramatic courtroom narrative and a deeper meditation on the enduring power of homophobia, Cruising for Conspirators shows how the same dynamics that promoted Garrison’s unjust prosecution continue to inform conspiratorial thinking to this day.

Advance praise:

“This shocking narrative uncovers how decades of police surveillance in New Orleans created a vast paper trail that set the stage for a corrupt district attorney to frame the only man to face prosecution for John F. Kennedy’s assassination, creating a lasting homophobic conspiracy theory in the process. With keen historical sensitivity, Alecia Long reveals the longer patterns and plots that frame this must-read story.”— Jim Downs

"Exposing the corrupt world of New Orleans policing and the complex gay subculture that thrived in the city’s shadow, Long’s book features an intriguing cast of characters, including ambitious prosecutor Jim Garrison and closeted businessman Clay Shaw. More importantly, it uncovers how cultural notions of gay men as criminal sexual psychopaths came to permeate JFK conspiracy theories and American culture more generally."— David K. Johnson

More information is available here. You can find an interview with Professor Long about the book at New Books Network.

-- Karen Tani