Killing the Dream: James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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9780156006514: Killing the Dream: James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the three decades since April 4, 1968, when Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot to death in Memphis, scores of books and articles have questioned whether James Earl Ray, King's killer, acted alone or was part of a larger conspiracy. Now, based on explosive new interviews, confidential files, and previously undisclosed evidence, bestselling author Gerald Posner finally resolves the simple truth of the last great political murder mystery of the 1960s, definitively proving that Ray acted alone. Beginning with a straightforward narrative of the events before, during, and after the shooting, Posner untangles the case's leading puzzles: Was there a mysterious person named Raoul who directed Ray in the year leading up to the murder? Were the FBI, the CIA, or an arm of the Mafia involved? Did the military have a covert team of snipers in Memphis on the day King died? Was James Earl Ray a patsy, as the King family has publicly declared? At the heart of this book is an in-depth profile of Ray himself, a fascinating profile of a career criminal from one of the most forsaken parts of poor white America. Posner re-creates the memorable dramas of the case: Dr. King's rousing "mountaintop" speech the night before his death; the chilling moments of the assassination; Ray's frantic flight across four countries as he tried to escape justice; and the shock of the King family's embrace of Ray just before his own death in jail. A riveting search for justice, Killing the Dream finally thwarts James Earl Ray's efforts to take his secrets to the grave, and proves the identity of King's killer beyond a shadow of a doubt.

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Review:

It's been 30 years since Martin Luther King Jr. was shot to death in Memphis, an event that reverberated throughout a startled country still coming to terms with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Like Kennedy's, King's assassination sparked conspiracy theories about who or what faction was ultimately responsible for his death. Did James Earl Ray act alone? Or was he a patsy?

In Killing the Dream, Gerald Posner, author of Case Closed, brings to light interesting new evidence, from confidential files to previously undisclosed facts, in an attempt to discriminate rumor from truth. Posner looks for answers to questions about where the fatal shot was fired from, the role of elite military personnel who were present in the area, and what social connections drove Ray in the year leading up to the murder.

Besides focusing on the day of the assassination and the courtroom battles that followed, Posner's book also offers a detailed examination of Ray's life, from his years in the army to his career as a petty hood. This well-researched study of the characters and the events preceding and following the murder makes for an honest, non-sensationalist journalistic account of events that have been distorted and convoluted over time.

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After thirty years, Killing the Dream reexamines the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., based on explosive new interviews, confidential files, and previously undisclosed evidence.  Killing the Dream not only uncovers the errors of previous investigations--both private and governmental--but resolves the speculation about whether the FBI, CIA, or mafia was involved in the death of Dr. King.

Killing the Dream untangles the case's leading puzzles:

*     Was there a mysterious person called Raoul who directed James Earl Ray in the year leading up to the murder?

*     Was the fatal shot fired from the bathroom window of a Memphis flophouse, or from a sniper's perch hidden in a densely overgrown garden across from King's hotel?

*     Did the military have a covert team of snipers in Memphis on the day King was killed?

*     Has the recent confession by a restaurant owner exposed a wide conspiracy leading to a New Orleans crime family?

*     Was James Earl Ray a patsy, as the King family recently declared?

At the heart of this study is an in-depth profile of James Earl Ray himself, a fascinating portrait of a career criminal from one of the most forsaken parts of poor white America.  By studying Ray's often bizarre life--from his hard childhood to his recent attempts to win a new trial and freedom from prison--Gerald Posner clears away years of misinformation.  Killing the Dream follows Ray from his pro-Nazi leanings in the U.S. Army, through his many crimes, to King's murder and beyond, detailing  his dealing in and abuse of drugs, his desire to dabble in the porn business, and his obsession with making a quick profit, by any means.  Posner re-creates the memorable dramas of the case: Dr. King's rousing "mountaintop" speech the night before he was killed; the chilling moments of the assassination; the FBI's far-ranging manhunt for the missing assassin; Ray's frantic flight across four countries as he tried to escape justice; the shock in the courtroom when Ray suddenly pled guilty and the truth in the case seemed forever lost.

Killing the Dream lays to rest three decades of conjecture and distortion--much of it spawned by Ray's frequently changing stories--to make the case for what happened in Memphis in 1968, and what most certainly did not.  This groundbreaking book finally unveils the simple truth of the last great political murder mystery left from the 1960s.  In this compelling account of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., Gerald Posner thwarts James Earl Ray's determined efforts to take his secrets to the grave.

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