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Hellhound On His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin Audio CD – Unabridged, April 27, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 1,032 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sides delivers an arresting account of the last days of Martin Luther King Jr. and the hunt to capture his killer, James Earl Ray. Sides provides not just a clear history of events, but a gripping narrative that puts readers into the room with key people including King, Ray, and J. Edgar Hoover. The author reads with a clear and strong voice that keeps a good pace and agreeable rhythm. He slips easily into the accents and only marginally invokes the speaking styles of different famous people's voices (including King himself), thereby reminding listeners of who is speaking but without hammy mimicry. While his narration is not as enthralling as the action itself, Sides maintains a solid rhythm and projection throughout. A Doubleday hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 8).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Enlightening . . . a valuable contribution to the historical record [and] a memorable and persuasive portrait . . . Ray's desire to achieve something in life, Sides convincingly and originally argues, was first and foremost what sent him on his deadly trail to Memphis." --The Washington Post


"[Sides] has pieced together a viscerally dramatic account....Sides writes in forceful, dignified, obscenity-free language and creates the momentum of a tightly constructed nonfiction film....Both Dr. King and Ray come to life in these remarkable pages, generating great suspense....spellbinding....[A ]bold, dynamic, unusually vivid book"--
New York Times

"Searing…Skillfully lifts the obscure details of the assassination out of the realm of historical elegy and translates them into a complex crime mystery that shifts the focus from Dr. King to his killer. Sides’s reconstruction of the assassination itself is searing – and a reminder of how little we know about it. Relying on FBI recordes, memoirs and past historians’ accounts, Sides re-creates Ray’s journey from his prison escape in April 1967 to the moment when he fired the single shot that felled Dr. King. After the shot is fired, Ray takes flight and, like an extended episode of the old television show "Dragnet," thousands of agents begin their search. Sides’s treatment of the killing is gripping."
--
Wall Street Journal


"Extraordinary....remarkable journalism.....compulsively readable"--San Francisco Chronicle

Remarkable....The book is a window on the passions and contradictions of an era – the hatred stirred by the civil rights movements, the battle lines within a single presidential administration, and a martyr who died just as his own flame seemed to be flickering amid dissension and disappointment.....Thanks to the skills of historian and author Hampton Sides, readers will feel as if they are standing on the ledge at the Lorraine Motel with King....moving....a page-turner....Its story is told so effectively and efficiently that readers will want to head back in time and pluck the bullet out of the air on that April evening, when the best and worst of America met in Memphis."--Christian Science Monitor

“Impossible-to-put-down…HELLHOUND ON HIS TRAIL is a masterful work of narrative nonfiction, one that benefits from its author's considerable talent as both a researcher and a writer. And as a result of his efforts, we not only have a greater understanding of King and Ray, but also a book that is every bit as good as any of the fiction thrillers being written these days.  Sides has made an art form out of what Truman Capote called the "journalistic novel.  In fact, the best works in this genre are the ones that locate the dramatic within the known.  And no one does it better than Hampton Sides.”--
Associated Press

"A riveting re-creation of a tragedy…HELLHOUND doggedly pursues the story of MLK’s murder. Magazines and newspapers have a name – "tick-tock" – for the kind of story that re-creates an event or decision as if it’s unfolding all over again. Sides’ compelling HELLHOUND is an extended tick-tock that reads like a tragic novel. Through Sides’ use of novelistic pacing, details and descriptions, he creates suspense that will propel readers through a slice of history."--
USA Today


"A taut, vibrant account....chilling in detail and particularly haunting in evoking the confusion and pathos in the minutes following the single crack of Ray's rifle."--
Los Angeles Times


"Sides is a crack research artist with a feel for both halves of the American chronicle, the grandeur and the violence....meticulous....a page turner, and something more: It brings the disquiet of an era fully alive."--
Bloomberg

"Sides' account....is special for at least four reasons. First, his reporting on Ray's difficult-to-unearth squalid life constitutes remarkable journalism. Second, Sides' brand of literary journalism makes the saga compulsively readable. Third, Sides' re-creation of the effort to capture Ray, which begins on Page 166 of a book topping 450 pages, provides a law-enforcement angle that is fresh. Fourth, Sides is a Memphis native, so he writes about the killing staining his city with a passion that resonates.....Sides does, however, offer a character sketch that avoids portraying King as a plaster saint.....Compelling" --
Dallas Morning News

"Hellhound unfolds like a mystery--one read not for the ending but for all the missteps, gotchas and near misses along the way."--
Time


"It's as much thriller as history book and the compulsive story races along like a fugitive on the lam."--
San Francisco Gate



"Sides' book, meticulously researched, reads like nothing so much as a novel....sense of immediacy.... creating plenty of plain old-fashioned suspense that makes the reader's heart pound, even though the tragic outcome is known in advance.....I have rarely read a better work of narrative nonfiction.....Sides' fine book brings [this time period] brilliantly back to life....Among other things, this memorable book serves as a chilling reminder that a single loser with his finger on the trigger and mayhem in his heart can bring an entire nation to its knees."--
The Portland Oregonian



"Exhaustively researched, fast-paced and at times minute-by-minute telling....To Sides' great credit, this is a feat of shoe-leather reporting and research....astonishing....briskly alive"--
Austin American Statesman

"As urgent a page-turner as any crime novel — a feat Sides accomplishes without sacrificing historical detail and insight....vivid historical context,....Sides places the King assassination in its historical context, paints memorable portraits of both killer and victim, and writes a true crime story as gripping as a fictional thriller. He also reminds us that, although King's assassination occurred more than four decades ago, some of the forces that drove it are disturbingly familiar in this era of vehemently antagonistic politics." 
--St. Petersburg Times 


"An authoritative, engrossing narrative....thoroughly researched but executed with the pacing of a fine novel and a dash of top-notch police procedural....meticulous....the tragedy that Sides has so ably captured is how a giant of American life was so quickly erased -- and the course of history irreversibly altered -- by a cretin as small as James Earl Ray."--
Miami Herald

"Salute author Sides for a carefully researched and crisply written account....Sides crafts careful profiles of his major characters"--St. Louis Post-Dispatch


"Sides' meticulous yet driving account of Ray's plot to murder King and the 68-day international manhunt that followed is in essence a true-crime story and a splendid specimen of the genre — a genuine corker.....Sides deftly constructs the book so that the killer's character becomes the mystery" --
Salon

"[Sides] masterfully recreates the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.....captivating....Like any good thriller,
Hellhound on His Trail is full of movement....creates an especially riveting portrait of King’s last minutes....Though the outcome is clear, we are nonetheless rapt—and then devastated—by Sides’s treatment of this historical event."--Time Out New York

"Nailbitingly riveting"--Newsday

"Drawing on interviews and previously unpublished resources, Sides builds suspense....offers riveting details....[and]captures the zeitgeist of the 1960s....[readers] will be swept up in the narrative because Sides writes with immediacy, intimacy and the pacing of a thriller." 
Booklist, Starred Review


"[An] engrossing study.....novelistic treatment....the result is a tragedy more compelling than the grandest conspiracy theory"--
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Sides skillfully weaves his narrative as his books builds to the fateful conjunction...the results are a spellbinder that all interested readers will find hard to put down"--
Library Journal, Starred Review

“A riveting account of James Earl Ray’s long quest to kill Martin Luther King, Jr. An expertly written study in true crime, vividly recapturing the mood of 1968.” —
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"Employing the same storytelling prowess he displayed in
Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers, Sides ratchets up the tension.....reads like a crime novel worthy of Joseph Wambaugh or Michael Connelly." --Book Page


Praise for
Blood and Thunder

“We see a panorama and a whole history, intricately laced with wonder and meaning, coalesce into a story of epic proportions, a story full of authority and color, truth and prophecy . . . Sides fills a conspicuous void in the history of the American West.”
New York Times Book Review

“An ambitious and sprawling account of the winning of the American West . . . A riveting account of a vast swath of history with which few Americans are familiar.”
The New Yorker

“Stunning . . . Both haunting and lyrical, Blood and Thunder is truly a masterpiece.”
Los Angeles Time

“A brilliantly realized portrait on an epic scale. . . captures a pivotal moment in U.S. history in marvelous detail. . . . Authoritative and masterfully told.”
Washington Post Book World

“A beautifully written, mesmerizing account of the greatest American story between the Revolution and the Civil War. . . . Like Shelby Foote, he has mastered the grand, sweeping style without sacrificing the well-chosen characters, events and minutiae that bring history to life.”
USA Today

Praise for Ghost Soldiers

“Few stories are as ...

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0739358928
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0739358924
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 11.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.06 x 1.12 x 5.89 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 1,032 ratings

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HAMPTON SIDES is the author of In the Kingdom of Ice, Ghost Soldiers, Blood and Thunder, Hellhound On His Trail, and other bestselling works of narrative history and literary non-fiction. His newest work, On Desperate Ground, will be published by Doubleday this October. Hampton is an editor-at-large for Outside magazine. His magazine work, collected in numerous published anthologies, has been twice named a Finalist for the National Magazine Awards in feature writing. A recent fellow of the Santa Fe Institute, he teaches literary journalism and narrative history at Colorado College. A native of Memphis with a BA in history from Yale, he lives in Santa Fe with his wife Anne.

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
1,032 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on June 23, 2018
24 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on June 28, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hellhound on His Trail Keeps You in its Grip
By Bryan Carey on June 28, 2020
I tend to stick with only non- fiction books for my reading enjoyment. Most of these books are rather direct and are inclined to state the facts and move on from one important point to the next, with little attention to details. But there are non- fiction books that are more attuned to setting the mood and read more like a work of fiction and an excellent example is Hellhound on His Trail.

This book covers the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. by James Earl Ray and it does so in a way that effectively intermingles education with engaging style. Starting with the educational aspects of the book, I found them excellent. I was not previously well versed at all on this event and through this book, I learned many things about Ray, King, and others that I didn’t know before. I knew the tragic event took place in Memphis at a hotel, but the extent of my knowledge ended right there. After reading Hellhound on His Trail, I feel like I have a solid understanding of the events leading up to the assassination, Ray’s attempts to find safe haven in a foreign country, and his ultimate arrest.

One thing that I found fascinating upon finishing this book is just how close Ray came to getting away with the crime. I think it’s safe to say that, had Ray murdered someone lesser known, he would have never been caught because the FBI and other agencies wouldn’t have bothered spending so much money, time, effort, and manpower to tracking down the killer. Even with so many people working toward the end goal, they still barely succeeded.

This book sticks almost entirely to the events leading up to the assassination and the efforts to track down Ray and bring him to justice. The book doesn’t delve into the trial itself and only briefly touches on the topic of conspiracy. The author has studied the possibility of a conspiracy and is convinced that Ray acted alone, but there aren’t many pages devoted to discussing this. If you’re a conspiracy theorist, you could find this part of the book dissatisfying and want to seek out additional reading.

There are more than 400 pages to this book, but I like that it is divided into such a large number of relatively short chapters. This makes it easy to pace yourself, since there are so many end- of- chapter stopping points. But the truth is, once you start reading, you may not want to stop. Hellhound on His Trail is a suspenseful book that reads like a novel. Even though you ultimately know what will happen in the end, you find yourself still anxious to turn the page to see what happens next. Any book that can keep me turning the pages even when I already know the outcome is a sure winner and when I think about the writing style and the education this book provides, it adds up to a must- read book that deserves, and earns, my highest recommendation.
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Top reviews from other countries

Maverick
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely riveting read!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 10, 2014
2 people found this helpful
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George Haddow
5.0 out of 5 stars Sides has done an excellent job with this book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 26, 2015
david hinton
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man who Killed the King
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 12, 2018
Christine Allan
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and well written
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 29, 2017
jonathan sherlock
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 30, 2017