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Magnificent in scope, drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished material, this nonfiction thriller illuminates one of the darkest hours in American life - an example of how history is so often a matter of the petty bringing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
"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)
Sad, hard to listen to at times, told in a very fast paced, detailed manner. Thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend to all. Some may not like all the detail or some of the manner in which it is told, but I enjoyed throughout. Sad, true tale.
Excellent review of both the assassination and the life of MLK. I think the historical perspective is right on, especially the insanity of Hoover declaring war on MLK, clearly abusing his power in the FBI to carry out his unstable vendetta. I think the statements about MLK's affairs with women is perhaps troubling personally, but doesn't and shouldn't detract from what this man did for civil rights in the US.
I didn't like the author's use of Ray's aliases in the story, since it confused the plot a bit. Perhaps that is nit picking, but it I would sometimes think "why are we hearing about this new guy?" when in fact it was about James Earl Ray, under a new alias.
I was concerned that too much of the book would focus on this nut Ray instead of the inspirational story of MLK, but I think the book hit a good balance between telling the whole story of the assassination, while integrating the greatness of the legend of MLK.
This is a "can't put it down" audiobook, so I highly recommend it.
This is a fascinating story. It calibrates you on what you thought you knew...what you thought you lived through. It's a personality study, a police story, a story of a hero and a hellhound. This is a must read.
What everyone else said is true, this is an excellent book. I do not listen to non-fiction, but my husband raved about the book. I read the reviews here and decided to take a chance. Glad I did. I was a kid when MLK was assasinated. I learned a lot about him and the event. And the story was masterfully told. I even enjoyed the narrator. Sometimes the author should leave narrating to the professionsal. But Mr. Sides did a nice job.
Fascinating tale of the assassin, the FBI's hunt for James Earl Ray and the FBI's hunt for Martin Luther King. I knew they had secretly recorded King but I didn't know Hoover hated King that much or the lengths to which he went to try to prove King was a communist or something. Hoover is a long dark chapter in our history, hope it doesn't repeat. Too much power given to an unelected, creepy guy.
As someone born in the 70s and not familiar with the manhunt for James Earl Ray, this was an excellent and eye-opening book. It keeps the listener attentive and eager for more. Excellent story and well worth the credit.
There's so much more to this story than I knew before. Sides has done a great service researching the minute detail of the weapons, places and people while the witnesses are still alive.
I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to know the whole story of the end of Martin Luther King's too short life.
I only wish the author who was so dedicated to the facts had spent more time trying to get into James Earl Ray's head and assessing motivation.
Great read. Don't pass this one up.
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