July 22, 2024

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

Hellhound On His Trail (Book Review)

2 min read

Hellhound on his Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin was given to me for Christmas from a co-worker during our office’s Secret Santa gift exchange. I was not only excited to read this novel because it is about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but it also came highly recommended from several of my friends. This national bestseller, by Hampton Sides, tells the “electrifying account of the largest manhunt in American History.” There is a point in the book’s Afterword where Hampton Sides says,

“A number of people who’ve read Hellhound have described it as ‘a thriller.’ Though they intended this as a compliment, I’m not sure I took it as one–for, in effect, it implies that I’ve turned a national tragedy into an entertainment of sorts.”

Well, sorry Hampton Sides…you did! This was an amazing book. I am not much of a reader–however, I am trying to read more–and this book was just what I needed to jump-start my interest in reading again. If every book was this good, I would have spent more time reading over the last five years and less time on Facebook or Youtube. Hampton Sides should not feel bad though, because of the “entertainment” value of this book, it will lead those to read it and learn about American History, specifically about one of America’s greatest leaders and one of the FBI’s greatest conquest.

This book contains an abundance of information. From start to finish, this book gives you the specifics necessary to fully comprehend the time period. Hellhound On His Trail starts by giving you a brief history of the city of Memphis. This is important because it is of necessity that the reader understands why Martin Luther King was needed in Memphis, Tennessee. From here, the knowledge made available spans from the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Earl Ray, to the current conditions in American while enduring hardships from the Vietnam War, to an inside look into the FBI.

mlk_assassinationWhat appealed to me the most about this book is that it told the story using quotes pulled from multiple sources. To string together the story, conversations were used throughout the entire book–real and cited quotes and conversations. In fact, the book has over forty pages of notes, broken down by chapter, so that you can find the original sources and context of the quotes.

I highly recommend this text to anyone that likes to read. You really don’t have to even appreciate history to enjoy Hellhound On His Trail. For the history lovers, this book will give you a great look at America during the late 1960’s, the assassination of Martin Luther King, and the fight for equality amongst all Americans. That being said, if you hate history but enjoy assassination thrillers, a man on the lam, or conspiracies this book is for you, too.

2 thoughts on “Hellhound On His Trail (Book Review)

    1. Oh ya, that is why it takes me so long to read books. As I read I continually takes notes and check for inconsistencies. From what I understand from other reviews, the original edition did not cover the possibility of conspiracies. The newest edition has a new afterword where he talks about the possible conspiracies, and he explains how he believes that what he wrote in his book is what really happened.

      Almost all of the negative reviews on Amazon.com were from 2010, before the new afterword. I believe that he saw an error and with the new afterword addressed the issue at hand. Of course, there were also those that said, “I didn’t dislike it, although I did feel it was overly long and filled with often irrelevant details. Does it matter to anyone that at the location where Ray abandoned his car…?”

      I mean, for myself, I don’t see these are irrelevant details… to me it shows proper research.

      Overall, the ratings speak for themselves. I didn’t find any glaring errors in the book, but then again I am no expert.

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