Hellhound on His Trail
The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin
By Hampton Sides
(Doubleday Books, Hardcover, 9780385523929, 480pp.)
Publication Date: April 27, 2010
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Edgar Award Nominee
One of the Best Books of the Year: O, The Oprah Magazine, Time, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, San Francisco Chronicle
From the acclaimed bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers and Blood and Thunder, a taut, intense narrative about the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the largest manhunt in American history.
On April 23, 1967, Prisoner #416J, an inmate at the notorious Missouri State Penitentiary, escaped in a breadbox. Fashioning himself Eric Galt, this nondescript thief and con man—whose real name was James Earl Ray—drifted through the South, into Mexico, and then Los Angeles, where he was galvanized by George Wallace’s racist presidential campaign.
On February 1, 1968, two Memphis garbage men were crushed to death in their hydraulic truck, provoking the exclusively African American workforce to go on strike. Hoping to resuscitate his faltering crusade, King joined the sanitation workers’ cause, but their march down Beale Street, the historic avenue of the blues, turned violent. Humiliated, King fatefully vowed to return to Memphis in April.
With relentless storytelling drive, Sides follows Galt and King as they crisscross the country, one stalking the other, until the crushing moment at the Lorraine Motel when the drifter catches up with his prey. Against the backdrop of the resulting nationwide riots and the pathos of King’s funeral, Sides gives us a riveting cross-cut narrative of the assassin’s flight and the sixty-five-day search that led investigators to Canada, Portugal, and England—a massive manhunt ironically led by Hoover’s FBI.
Magnificent in scope, drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished material, this nonfiction thriller illuminates one of the darkest hours in American life—an example of how history is so often a matter of the petty bringing down the great.
After Martin Luther King Jr. was killed on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tenn., the man who shot him, James Earl Ray, was able to evade the FBI during a two-month-long massive worldwide manhunt. Writer Hampton Sides traces the movements of both King and Ray in his book, Hellhound on His Trail. More at NPR.org
On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was killed on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tenn. For the next two months, the man who shot him, James Earl Ray, was able to evade the FBI during a massive worldwide manhunt. Writer Hampton Sides traces the movements of both King and Ray in his new book, Hellhound on His Trail. More at NPR.org
Hampton Sides' new book follows Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassin, James Earl Ray, as he escapes from prison and plots King's murder to the moment he is finally apprehended by Scotland Yard. More at NPR.org