The book is a rollicking biography of the man who was Mr. Investigative Reporter in Baton Rouge in the 1980s and on CNN in the 1990s and early 2000s. And he’s back to even scores, set the record (as he sees it) straight, and fess up to his derelict ways as a 17-year-old alcoholic college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. Camp wanted to be a rock n’ roll disc jockey, but instead got a newsman’s job at a 250-watt station in northern California, which, as he points out, had about the same reception as two tin cans and a string. Nevertheless, that job and his ultimate sobriety, led to him being labeled “a derelict gunslinger” by former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who is now serving time in a federal prison. Those beginnings also resulted in his being called “the best investigative reporter in the world” and “a snake and a reprobate” by Jimmy Swaggart. Somewhere in between Swaggart’s analysis would be closer to the truth.
Along with his unflinching honesty about himself, Camp chronicles major investigative stories he covered, including Whitewater, in which he exonerates the Clintons, Baton Rouge pilot-and-drug-smuggler Barry Seal who became an important government witness before he was killed by Colombians after Federal District Judge Frank Polozola sentenced him to spend nights at a Salvation Army shelter because Camp contends the judge didn’t like Seal’s attitude in an investigative report Camp produced. In addition to the aforementioned, he also covers Swaggart, Edwards, Noriega, Meyer Lansky, various Louisiana insurance commissioners, who served time, and takes on “cowardly” network executives at CNN and in Boston and Miami, where he worked.
- John McMillan
Sunday Magazine Review, Baton Rouge Advocate
Camp’s dedicated probing into issues that would not have seen the light of day had there not been investigative reporters, as he, change and alter history and provide the check and balance to man’s otherwise unchecked behaviors. His book is a delightful read and takes the reader behind the scenes of such important stories as Whitewater, the Mafia, and international drug cartels. In addition to the exciting inside stories of a highly successful and decorated investigative reporter, I was intrigued by Mr. Camp’s story because as a public health professional having studied afflictions of workers throughout my career, this book is a revealing and candid story of one of the worst but preventable problems encountered by workers, addiction.
- Richard A. Lemen, Ph.D., MSPH
Retired Assistant Surgeon General, U.S. Public Health Service and former Deputy and Acting Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Derelict Gunslinger is an account of the life and times of a great journalist and an even better man. A gutsy, provocative behind-the-scenes book from an old pro reporter who takes no prisoners.
- Hugh Aynesworth
Dallas, TX author and veteran investigative reporter for newspapers and magazines.
John Camp, during the time he spent reporting on stories where I happened to know the facts, was one of the few – and often the only – journalist who was not fooled by either the crooks or the prosecutors who had a stake in manipulating the truth and the press. His cold, clear eye on the criminal justice system was, and is, unequaled. In Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger, Camp goes a step beyond and takes on stories about not only the system, not only the characters who populate the system, but also his own life. John Camp is an original. They don’t make ‘em like him anymore. So this book should be studied.
- Harvey Silverglate
Boston, MA, Criminal defense and civil liberties trial lawyer and writer Author most recently of Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent
Rarely does a book come along that taps into multiple parts of my life. Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger does just that. John Camp and I’ve traveled many of the same paths, both in journalism and in our personal lives. From the moment we met, we knew we shared many common interests and challenges. This is a great book of war stories, “gotcha’s” and the nitty gritty of covering difficult topics. But it is also a book of real recovery, of how learning to deal with your demons can lead to a measured life full of victories and defeats, while keeping a balance by helping others. John Camp has done just that. I recommend this book without hesitation!
- Haney Howell
Ex-CBS, ABC, KUSA, WBT
Associate Professor Mass Communication
Rock Hill, SC
I started reading Odyssey of a Derelict Gunslinger at midnight and didn’t put it down until 4:00 a.m. John Camp’s writing is compelling. I cannot recall a book in recent years that is as tough and honest as John’s account of his personal journey.
- Dale Brown
Inspirational Speaker and Writer, former LSU head basketball coach
The duality of who John Camp is and has been is even more intriguing than the laundry list of notables he’s investigated and with whom he has associated. For an author to portray his own alcoholic slide to the gutter with such brutal honesty is impressive; more impressive is the short, direct and incredibly moving passage about the moment that changed his life forever. Derelict Gunslinger is, to me, a book about second chances, forgiveness, and the ability of human beings to change their own destinies. I loved every word.
- Ellen Stevenson
Book Editor, Dallas, TX
Derelict Gunslinger is not only good, it is a brilliant and uncompromising book — among the best written autobiographies I have ever read. John Camp lets it all hang out about journalism, and he exposes the secrets that other investigative reporters try to conceal.
- Gus Weill
New York City, author and Louisiana political consultant
John Camp became one of the most decorated television reporters in history. Read this book to see what journalism used to be – and what the founding fathers intended it to be. Whether you agree with Camp’s conclusions is not the point. The point is he provided an alternative to the spin doctor machine of government politicians and other elites.
- Jay Perkins
LSU Journalism Professor
John’s courage in tweaking the noses of the reprobates and hypocrites of our world is fascinating. Coupled with his personal story of “what it was like, what happened and what it’s like now,” the book is an inspiring testimony to the power of love and fellowship in overcoming character defects and shortcomings. I only regret that John Camp has decided to retire and will not be available to “keep the bastards honest.” But we can hope that others will read this book and be inspired to take his place as investigative reporters.
- Carl S.
Wait until you read about the Governor he helped expose! And it’s not just politicians he investigated. In some stories that beg the question of how did he lived to tell about it, he took on mob figures who were involved in pension fund shenanigans and iffy real estate developments. It is a remarkable story filled with despair turned to hope – and sure death turned to life.
- Caryn St. Clair