Hellhound on His Trail: Book summary and reviews of Hellhound on His Trail by Hampton Sides

Hellhound on His Trail

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

by Hampton Sides

Hellhound on His Trail by Hampton Sides X
Hellhound on His Trail by Hampton Sides
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2010
    480 pages
    Genre: Biographies/Memoirs

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Book Summary

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Magnificent in scope, drawing on a wealth of previously unpublished material, this nonfiction thriller illuminates one of the darkest hours in American life—an example of how history is so often a matter of the petty bringing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.

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Media Reviews

"Starred Review. [A] tragedy more compelling than the grandest conspiracy theory: the most significant of lives cut short by the hollowest of men." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. [A] a spellbinder that all interested readers will find hard to put down." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. An expertly written study in true crime, vividly recapturing the mood of 1968." - Kirkus Reviews

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Author Information

Hampton Sides Author Biography

Gary Oakley

Hampton Sides is best-known for his gripping non-fiction adventure stories set in war or depicting epic expeditions of discovery and exploration. He is the author of the bestselling histories Ghost Soldiers, Blood and Thunder, Hellhound On His Trail, and, most recently, In the Kingdom of Ice, which recounts the heroic polar voyage of the U.S.S. Jeannette during the Gilded Age.

Hampton is editor-at-large for Outside and a frequent contributor to National Geographic and other magazines. His journalistic work, collected in numerous published anthologies, has been twice nominated for National Magazine Awards for feature writing.

A native of Memphis and a Yale graduate, Hampton is the 2015 Miller Distinguished Scholar at the Santa Fe Institute and an advisory board member of the Mayborn ...

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  • In the Kingdom of Ice jacket
  • Ghost Soldiers jacket
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