Memphis author's new book details hunt for James Earl Ray

By Andrew Douglas - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Memphis author's new book takes an in-depth look at the stalking and assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the international hunt for James Earl Ray.

Hampton Sides can vividly remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's assassination and the Memphis sanitation strike, even though they happened when he was only six-years-old.  At the same time, authorities commenced one of the biggest manhunts in U.S. history: the search for James Earl Ray.

In Sides' new book, more than 50 pages of endnotes detail the meticulous research he conducted as he searched for every information about action and conversation related to the investigation into King's death.

"You think you know a story...but if you actually slow it down, not just hour by hour, but minute by minute, and even second by second, things do jump out at you," he said.

One aspect that jumps off the pages right away is the behavior of James Earl Ray, from his unassuming escape from custody to his myriad of identities and his bizarre behavior.

"Ray was a really odd duck during that time in L. A.," Sides said. "He was getting into hypnosis. He got a nose job. He was taking bartending lessons, dancing lessons and really got deep into the Wallace for President campaign."

In his book, which hits bookshelves this week, Hampton Sides offers a historical perspective to today's politically charged climate.

"History doesn't repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes, and I think we're living in some pretty scary times right now," he said. "When Obama was elected President, there was all this run on guns at gun shops all over America. There's just a lot of talk of violence in the air."

He hopes American will learn lessons from history.

"We do not want to go back to those times at all," he said. "This was really one of the low moments in our history."

A low moment in history, and an important lesson reviewed in intricate detail in the pages of 'Hellhound on His Trail.'

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