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The Man Who Killed Martin Luther King (Hardback)

The Life and Crimes of James Earl Ray

Military > Frontline Books Military > Pre-WWI > American History P&S History > By Century > 20th Century P&S History > Social Science & Culture > Politics P&S History > True Crime

By Mel Ayton
Frontline Books
Pages: 216
ISBN: 9781399081382
Published: 13th March 2023

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Doubts about James Earl Ray, Dr. Martin Luther King’s lone assassin, arose almost immediately after the civil rights leader was fatally shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on 4 April 1968. From the start, his aides voiced suspicions that a conspiracy was responsible for their leader’s death. Over time many Americans became convinced the government investigations covered up the truth about the alleged assassin. Exactly what led Ray to kill King continues to be a source of debate, as does his role in the murder.

However, Mel Ayton believe the answers to the many intriguing questions about Ray and how conspiracy ideas flourished can now be fully understood. Missing from the wild speculations over the past fifty-two years has been a thorough investigation of the character of King’s assassin. Additionally, the author examines exactly how the conspiracy notions came about and the falsehoods that led to their promulgation.

The Man Who Killed Martin Luther King is the first full account of the life of James Earl Ray based on scores of interviews provided to government and non-government investigators and from the FBI’s and Scotland Yard’s files plus the recently released Tennessee Department of Corrections prison record on Ray.

Most importantly, the testimony of Anna Sandhu has often been ignored by writers but her story is crucial in gaining an understanding of Ray’s deceptive ways. A courtroom artist, who, after listening to Ray’s story, later married him. Also missing from accounts of the alleged ‘conspiracy’ is the story told to this author by Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary Deputy Warden Rolland H. Cisson, which decisively renders Ray’s claims of innocence to be bogus.

In the short-lived freedom he acquired after escaping from the Missouri State Penitentiary in 1967, following being sentenced to twenty years in prison for repeated offences, he travelled to Los Angeles and decided to seek notoriety as the one who would stalk and kill Dr. King, who he had come to hate vehemently.

From the time of King’s murder, the reader will follow Ray to solitary confinement in a Nashville prison. Then, six years later, on 10 June 1977, James Earl Ray again escaped from prison, this time with five others. Ray was the last to be recaptured, having survived only on wheatgerm. Finally, the book relays Ray’s stabbing by several black inmates, then his resulting diagnosis with Hepatitis C, which caused his death twelve years later, in 1998.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is incredibly researched. It does a great job of a deep dive into a lot of the conspiracy theories around Martin Luther King's death and explains why a lot of the conspiracy theories can't be true.

NetGalley, Karl Wardlaw

A fascinating and educational dive into a tragic event in our nation’s history and the conspiracy theories surrounding it.

NetGalley, Taylor Irwin

I have read books on this subject in the past so I was intrigued to find out what angle this book would take. I have to admit that I found it very interesting and it did contain some information I haven’t come across before. It was a refreshing take on an interesting topic and I would definitely recommend to anyone with an interest in the topic. 4 stars from me.

NetGalley, Nichola Hanslip

Article: The Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination and the “Deep State” Conspiracy

Crime Magazine

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I don't think there is an adult who wouldn't know who Martin Luther King was or that he was assassinated, but I wonder how many could tell you much about James Earl Ray. For me he was very much just a name of someone who had done something awful out of hatred and so I was keen to read this and learn more about him.
This book is incredibly well researched and manages to get the information across in such an engaging and interesting way, without feeling very heavy and bogged down, like some historical non fiction can.
I learnt things about Martin Luther King that I didn't know and that was really interesting, as well as some things that shocked me, such as his lifeastyle. I also learnt a lot about James Earl Ray, which wasn't hard as I knew nothing before hand, but I was suprised by how truly awful and manipulative he was.
The conspiracy theories were also really interesting and has made me look more into them, some of them are truly out there.
I will definitely be looking for more from this author.

NetGalley, Aria Harlow

I admit as a Brit I only know who James Earl Ray was because of some paranormal shows I watch, so I went into this book with no knowledge in advance.

It was well written with an engaging style and gave masses of information without overwhelming the reader. There was so much about MLK's life that I had not known beforehand.

Ray, was an evil man for sure and despite all the conspiracy theories this book shows how he lied to the King family on multiple occasions and told them he didn't do it.

All in all a great book for fans of true crime, and I'll look for more by this author.

NetGalley, Jay F

As featured in

The Bookseller, Jan 23

The research that went into this story is amazing and deserves a big congratulation to Mel Ayton for bringing the facts and the misinformation that has occurred over time since the assassination.
One thing I must admit is I did not know just how Martin Luther King was able to behave in such a decadent lifestyle without the populace knowing.
Overall, I would recommend this book for studies and also as a concise view of what took place in 1968.

NetGalley, zuzu burford

Fascinating insight into this tragedy…… Over time many Americans became convinced the government investigations covered up the truth about the alleged assassin. Exactly what led Ray to kill King continues to be a source of debate, as does his role in the murder.

NetGalley, Michelle Coates

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I know if I’m in the mood to read a true crime historical book to go look for Mel Ayton's latest so when I seen that I could read the book who killed Martin Luther King, the life in crimes of James Earl Ray in exchange for an honest review I was so excited to do that. So here we are I have read the book and OMG I feel like one of those emoji‘s with the big eyeballs I was shocked and dismayed to see the tragedy that this man visited on the king family not once but twice. He even had the nerve to look at Dexter King‘s face and tell him he didn’t kill his beloved father and I have no doubt that Mr. King‘s youngest boy prayed with him before leaving the prison… That makes me sick but such a despicable man was Grace with the presence of such a forgiving son. because no matter how old the younger Mr. King was he was still there because his daddy was murdered. If you’re wondering why in-house such a loving family could Grace a racist and a murderer with their presents then you should read this book or read the summary because James Earl Ray not only had maps times marked off where he start Mr. King and keep in mind this was in between trying to get his homespun porn business often running in that right after Mr. King was shot in the head head eyewitnesses that saw him peeling out of the parking lot to essentially get out of town. He was already on the wrong for breaking out of prison but now he would go and bring his evil to England. Due to great police work an old fashion stick to it of Ness they caught him. He was trying to get to Rhodesia thought he would be a local hero and live comfortably in a non-extradition country. If you think I have given everything away in this long review you would be wrong I didn’t mention the movie stars that are involved the panels set up to get to the truth and barely touched on how he pull the wool over the king families face. This is truly a tragic book about a sand event in American history. People love to talk about historical legendary people and bring out the bad qualities but I find that a relevant and not the point. Anyone who would try to take down a man trying to do nothing but good in the world he lives in should be ashamed of their self. I have nothing but respect for Martin Luther king his family are in those trying to achieve his dream. I loved this book as I do all Mel Mel Ayton's books and highly recommend it.

NetGalley, Janalyn Prude

About Mel Ayton

MEL AYTON has a master’s degree in history from Durham University and is a former US Fulbright Teacher, deputy principal and college lecturer. He is the author of numerous books and articles and has worked as a historical consultant for the BBC, NBC News, National Geographic Channel and the Discovery Times Channel. Ayton’s books and articles have received praise from numerous media outlets including Fox News, USA TodayThe New York Post and Israel’s Haaretz newspaper as well as UK newspapers including The GuardianThe Daily Mail and The Daily Express. His book, The Forgotten Terrorist – Sirhan Sirhan and the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, was acclaimed by Harvard Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz who wrote a Foreword to the second edition of the book published in 2019.

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