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Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin | [Hampton Sides]

Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin

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. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

From the acclaimed best-selling 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 Kings funeral, Sides gives us a riveting cross-cut narrative of the assassins flight and the 65-day search that led investigators to Canada, Portugal, and England - a massive manhunt ironically led by J. Edgar 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Magnificent in scope, drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished material, this nonfiction thriller illuminates one of the darkest hours in American life - an example of how history is so often a matter of the petty bringing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.

©2010 Hampton Sides (P)2010 Random House

What the Critics Say

"Sides's storytelling packs a visceral punch, and in Hellhound on His Trail, he crafts an authoritative and riveting account of two intersecting lives that altered the course of American history." (Amazon.com review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (386 )
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  •  
    Scott Scarborough, ON, Canada 11-15-13
    Scott Scarborough, ON, Canada 11-15-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Fascinating"
    Any additional comments?

    A monumental and exciting telling of the assassination of MLK. Almost taking the form of a true life thriller, the story follows the assassins life before and after the crime. There are unexpected twists and turns here that will keep you listening. I loved the way the author unfolded the story and it never loses sight that a monumental figure and very real human being had his life senselessly taken at an early age.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen los angeles, CA, United States 03-28-13
    Karen los angeles, CA, United States 03-28-13 Member Since 2005

    living in los angeles I drive a lot, so audio books save me from a lot of frustration!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Stranger than fiction"

    I had forgotten so much about the hunt for an MLK's killer that reading this was truly eye opening. Highly recommended with many twists and turns and interesting historical details--Like the fact that several wealthy Klan Organizations had bounties placed on MLK's head, and how J. Edgar Hoover, who hated King and had tried to get him to commit suicide, was then was placed in charge of finding his killer.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martha Raleigh, NC, United States 08-18-12
    Martha Raleigh, NC, United States 08-18-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Great Book - I love Hampton Sides!"
    Where does Hellhound on His Trail rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This retelling of MLK’s last days and months immediately following his assassination, juxtaposed with the detailed accounting of what was happening with his assailant, is excellent. The writing reminds me quite a bit of Eric Larson’s writing - weaving two stories together, though MLK and Ray are tied in a much more concrete way. Sides manages to get this history lesson to read like a good mystery. And the details he puts in create a sense of connection. The book is also read very well.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Arlington, TX, United States 11-16-10
    Daniel Arlington, TX, United States 11-16-10 Member Since 2005

    Hopelessly addicted to Audio Books! I started listening as a distraction to the aggravation of driving, now I listen all the time :)

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    "Phenomenal Effort"

    As with other reviewers, I was AMAZED at the amount of detail and research that went into this novel.

    The story follows all of the relevant characters in MLK's life through the months and weeks leading up to his assassination, and collide at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, and continues through the manhunt and capture of the assassin, James Earl Ray. It is probably one of the most detailed accounts of an historical event that I have ever read or heard.

    Likewise, it is eye-opening to realize there is so much to this story that is not available in mainstream literature and/or teachings surrounding this event. The only criticism I can offer is that occasionally, the author gives us a little too much detail, describing what was in someones pockets at a given point in time, e.g., toothpaste. It's irrelevant to the story or the history. It's my guess that the author was simply showing off the level of detailed research.

    Another interesting gem in this story is to see JESSE JACKSON exposed for the shallow, self-centered lying weasel that he is; I can’t believe people actually follow this guy based on his history and his beliefs in his one great cause – “himself”.

    Anyway, I highly recommend you add this to your "MUST LISTEN" list!!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Littman OH 10-16-10
    D. Littman OH 10-16-10 Member Since 2003

    history buff

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    "a very good nonfiction book"

    This intertwined "biography" of Martin Luther King and James Earl Ray, centering of course on the road to the assassination and its aftermath, is a very good book. It is not a scholarly tome (and I know there are those), it is not rich in evidentiary material and footnotes (and there are those too). But it does a good job hammering home the situation of the time in the civil rights movement, Ray's peculiar personality and background, and the drama of the moment. You will come away understanding all these well, since the narrative drives along, novelistically, and is well narrated. After reading this very well sourced (but not pedantic) book, I don't know how anyone would come away thinking that James Earl Ray was not the killer, but you can also understand why some conspiracy theorists point a finger of blame at public officials and the virulently racist leadership of the FBI. Sides also is unable to explain Ray's source of funds during the time after his prison escape, but I have not seen any other books come up with plausible hard evidence that the KKK or others were in on the thing (more likely, Ray's criminal siblings and Ray's penchant, shown later, for making and saving his money in prison).

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    batwater 08-12-10
    batwater 08-12-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Excellent writer, detailed story"

    The history of Martin Luther King and James Earl Ray was detailed, interesting and kept me up all night. Even my 15 year old granddaughter enjoyed listening to it. This book is great for anyone to listen to. I was a teenager during the 60's which added to the intrigue. You learn how the FBI handled King's death and the detail of the manhunt. I'm not a history buff but I am now.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 05-02-10
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 05-02-10 Member Since 2003

    glam

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    "Awesome read!"

    True crime just doesn't get any better than this. Don't quite know what to say, other than "read the book, it speaks for itself".
    The astonishing insights into the techniques and seat-of-the-pants strategy of this career criminal were so compelling I practically had to keep my iPod surgically joined to my hip!

    The marginal figures grabbed my interest as well - I guess that's a sign of a really excellent read, if you are mesmerized by even the people who populate the edges of the story.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roberta Richmond, VA, USA 07-12-14
    Roberta Richmond, VA, USA 07-12-14 Member Since 2008

    Vassar graduate, living in Mexico and retired.

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    "skilled writing, well narrated"

    This book held my attention. The author did a good job of narrating his own work. However, justice was not done to the British accents. This nonfiction story lacked comic relief, but was otherwise very interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer SAN CARLOS, CA, United States 06-14-14
    Amazon Customer SAN CARLOS, CA, United States 06-14-14 Member Since 2009

    Avid marathoner and hi tech market analyst. Lover of Ken Follett, Christopher Moore, Timothy Zahn and any book that pulls me in.

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    "Expected more"

    This is rich material that really could have been presented better. I thought the account of MLK and his entourage felt too clinical. The analysis of his assassin was more colorful (that's wrong). And after the killing, the book lost me in clinic and legal minutiae.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lalyc Charlotte, NC 03-16-14
    lalyc Charlotte, NC 03-16-14 Member Since 2005

    lalyc2000

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    "Great listen!"

    This is in the top ten books I have listened to. Skillfully written, Hampton Sides uses some turns of phrase that just make you smile. Even though you know what is going to happen, the murder of Dr. King broke my heart all over again. A must for anyone who remembers that year of assassinations.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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