Long before studying history at Yale with John Hersey, and long before becoming the bestselling author of such books as Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers, Hampton Sides was a young boy in Memphis in 1968 when Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed. As a historian and Memphis native, King’s assassination has remained an immensely important and even life-altering event to Sides, and it is the subject of his latest book: Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for his Assassin.
Unlike many works on this subject, Sides’ book shies away from conspiracy theories and instead focuses on the undisputed facts of the case to create a tension-filled, page-turning account of the day-to-day movements of King and James Earl Ray from the moment Ray escaped from prison until the day he was arrested in England to be imprisoned again, only to recant his confession and, amazingly albeit briefly, to escape once again.
The scrupulously collected details of the two men's lives provide vivid portraits of King, who by 1968 was struggling personally and in his public work and imagining that his end was near, and Ray, a career criminal and profoundly disturbed individual whose racism and desire to “be somebody” led him to his ultimate, notorious destiny.
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