HELLHOUND ON HIS TAIL: THE STALKING OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. AND THE INTERNATIONAL HUNT FOR HIS ASSASSIN by Hampton Sides
Hellhound on his Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin by Hampton Sides
On April 23, 1967, Prisoner #416J, an inmate at the maximum-security Jefferson City Penitentiary in Missouri, stuffed himself into a bread-filled metal box bound for the prison farm workers. He became the first man to successfully escape in the institution's 131-year history. Fashioning himself Eric Galt, this nondescript thief and con man drifted through the American South, down into Mexico, and then to Los Angeles. His dream was to become a director of porn films.
On February 1, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, two garbage men were crushed to death by the hydraulic press of their antiquated truck. The exclusively African American workforce, which labored for long hours with little pay, went on strike. A month later, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. joined their cause. Exhausted by constant death threats and the toll of his punishing schedule, the Nobel laureate was at the nadir of his extraordinary career. Beset on the left by the Black Power movement, which felt his nonviolent methods were a form of Uncle Tomism, and viciously harassed by J. Edgar Hoover, who considered him a dangerous radical, King desperately wanted to further his faltering civil rights crusade. But the garbage workers' march down Beale Street, the historic avenue of the blues, turned violent. Humiliated, King vowed to return to Memphis in April.
Hiding in the seedier precincts of Los Angeles, his porn career going nowhere, the man calling himself Eric Galt became a follower of George Wallace, the segregationist demagogue who was running for president of the United States. Galvanized by Wallace's racial rhetoric, Galt threw himself into the campaign -- and began tracking the movements of King.
In Hampton Sides's electrifying account, we see these two men -- one whose courage and savvy embodied one of the twentieth centuries' greatest causes; th other who lived his stunted life in the shadows -- as they crisscross the country. Galt stalking Kin, until the devastating moment at a Memphis motel when the drifter catches up with his prey.
Against the backdrop of the resulting nationwide riots, political crises, and the pathos of King's funeral, Sides deftly weaves a crosscut narrative of the assassin's flight and the massive, desperate search to find him -- led, ironically, by the same FBI whose director had hoped to hound King to death. The epic chase would involve thousands of agents, traverse multiple countries, and take three months of meticulous detective work until Galt -- a.k.a. Harvey Lowmeyer, a.k.a. Ramon George Sneyd, a.k.a. James Earl Ray -- was captured only days before he planned to take refuge in the racist state of Rhodesia.
Magnificent in scope, relentless in narrative drive, drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished material, Hellhound on His Trail is a profound examination of the costs of hatred -- and how history is often a matter of the petty bringing down the great.
Doubleday, Hardcover, 20120, Book Club Edition
THIS IS A USED BOOK IN LIKE NEW CONDITION. THE DUST WRAPPER IS ALSO IN LIKE NEW CONDITION.