What a book!

June 18, 2010

A suspenseful tale even though you know the ending

I remember reading ‘Day of the Jackal’ one summer during college and, despite some of the dense writing in parts, not being able to put it down. That’s how it felt to read ‘Hellhound On His Trail: The Stalking Of Martin Luther King Jr. And The International Hunt For His Assassin’ by Hampton Sides, except I knew the outcome and there was no dense writing.

Despite knowing the outcome, it was hard to put this book down for the night. The chapters are written like the most engaging of page turners, short and punchy, but the wealth of information is amazing. I am too young to have even been alive when King was shot, so, of course there would be things in here that would be new. But this book took the dry, two-dimensional people we read about in history class and really fleshed them out, made them whole people, all against, a backdrop of events that were rocking America.

Much like the agents and officers working the case, Sides finds some of the smallest of details and puts them in without bogging the story down at all. I also especially liked his reconstruction of quotes and conversations from primary sources instead of reimagining them as they might have occurred.

This is a great and very accessible read of a pivotal moment in U.S. history. Highly recommended, even for summer beach reading.

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