November's Discussion: Hellhound on his trail &

Hellhound On His Trail: The Electrifying Account of the Largest Manhunt In American History

Hampton Sides has long been one of the great narrative nonfiction writers of our time, excavating essential pieces of American history--from the daring rescue of POWs during World War II to the settling of the West--and bringing them vividly to life. Now in his new book, Hellhound on His Trail, he applies his enormous gifts to one of the most important and heart-wrenching chapters in U.S. history: the stalking and assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., by James Earl Ray.

The book chronicles the terrifying collision of these two figures. In 1967, King was struggling to complete his monumental Civil Rights crusade and to maintain, amid the rise of more militant factions, the movement’s nonviolent nobility. While King increasingly intuits his own death, Ray has begun to track him down. Through Sides’ prodigious research, Ray emerges as one of the eeriest characters, a prison escapee and racist who wears alligator shoes and is constantly transforming himself, changing names and physical appearances. He is determined to become somebody, to insert himself into the national consciousness, through a single unthinkable act of violence.

Sides illuminates not only the forces that culminated in King’s assassination; he also reveals the largely forgotten story of how his death led to the largest manhunt in American history. Almost unfathomably, it is J. Edgar Hoover, the person who had long hoped for King’s destruction and had even spied on him, who ultimately brings King’s killer to justice.

Hellhound on His Trail reconstructs this taut, tense narrative with the immediacy of a novel. Yet what makes the book so powerful--indeed what lifts it into the ranks of a masterpiece--is that the story unfolds against the larger backdrop of the Civil Rights movement and the struggle to remake the country. If Ray is able to undergo a final metamorphosis, it is King, through his life and ultimate sacrifice, who enacts the greatest transformation: changing the character of a nation.

Chosen by: Abdul

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  • A former member
    A former member

    A good time as usual.

    December 5, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Loved the book & discussion was very interesting...

    December 4, 2012

  • Margaret M.

    Hi all, our end of the table talked briefly about this list http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/books-that-shaped-america/ so I wanted to post it in case anyone else is curious!

    December 4, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great group, excellent book choice, and we had some really interesting conversation.

    December 4, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Will be there!! Can't wait to meet everyone!!

    December 4, 2012

  • Karen T.

    Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it tonight.

    December 4, 2012

  • Abdul

    Hi Guys, I have a reservation for 6:30 tonight. Please update your RSVP if you cannot make it. See you tonight.

    December 4, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    It says & above - is there another book? I don't see it.

    November 5, 2012

    • Abdul

      Alas not. 1 book only :(

      December 4, 2012

  • Meagan

    Hey Abdul. Looking forward to the meeting! I book only?

    November 10, 2012

    • Abdul

      Yup, I thought I would give you a little gift:)

      December 4, 2012

  • Elizabeth S

    I.have a completed manuscript and am looking for 2 beta readers. Anyone interested? I would mail them or being to Jan. Meeting as I won't be at Dec. All you have to do is read and make comments abour the story. Approx. 60,000 words.

    November 18, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      If you are looking for a casual beta reader (am not an editor but think I know what reads well) I'd be happy to read it and comment. Let me know - I think we're meeting up in Glastonbury on Dec 13, if that helps!

      November 28, 2012

    • Elizabeth S

      Thanks so much. I think I'm all set now!

      November 28, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Will do my level best to attend. Am busy Home Care Nurse but need good read to bring me out of my "medical mind set." Look forward....

    November 18, 2012

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