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Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King Hardcover – September, 1995

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 537 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf Pub; 1st edition (September 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786702532
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786702534
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #488,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pepper, attorney since 1988 for James Earl Ray, the convicted killer of Martin Luther King Jr., believes that his client was a patsy, not the real assassin. He charges that the civil rights leader slain in 1968 was the victim of a conspiracy that involved Hoover's FBI, the CIA, Army intelligence, the mafia and the Memphis, Tenn., police force, extending to the highest levels of the federal government, which viewed King as a dangerous revolutionary. Pepper has interviewed many new witnesses who remained silent during the last 27 years, and he names names of officials at the local and national levels who, he alleges, participated in the conspiracy. According to Pepper, a team of U.S. Army Special Forces snipers was at the scene, taking aim at King at the same moment as a back-up "civilian" assassin. The Army team, by this account, had orders to kill both King and the Reverend Andrew Young, but the final order to pull the trigger was never given because the "civilian" assassin-tentatively identified here as one Raul Pereira, not Ray-shot King first. Pepper interviewed two former Special Forces members who claim to have been part of the sniper squad. He also cites two failed, government-orchestrated attempts to assassinate King in 1965, as well as a subsequent mafia contract on the civil rights leader's life by New Orleans mob boss Carlos Marcello. Pepper wants a trial for Ray, who, he asserts, was coerced into pleading guilty by his lawyer; the defense, he notes, has never even been allowed to test the rifle or bullets in evidence.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Since 1988, Pepper, who was active in the civil rights and antiwar movements in the 1960s, has been chief counsel for James Earl Ray, convicted--on a guilty plea, without a trial--of the April 4, 1968, assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. Through appeals, a civil suit, a TV simulation of the trial Ray never had, and now this book, Pepper has tried to bring to judicial and public attention new evidence, which suggests strongly that Ray was merely the fall guy in a multilevel assassination plot involving the Mafia and government intelligence agencies. Perhaps as disturbing as the paranoia of the FBI, Army Intelligence, and other agencies that viewed Dr. King as a dangerous revolutionary leader are the subsequent actions of local, state, and federal officials who continue, even today, to obscure and obfuscate what happened in 1968. Pepper's story is inevitably complex, because it traces when and how Ray's defenders learned about various leads, as well as how those leads fit into their changing understanding of King's murder. But a list of the "principal players" and a final chapter that sums up the 1968 chronology will help readers put the pieces together. Worth attention from concerned citizens as well as dedicated conspiracy buffs. Mary Carroll

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Customer Reviews

Every American citizen should read this book.
W. Lewis
Unlike most conspiracy theories, which are just that...theories...this book really lays out what happened and Pepper uses FACTS.
Jerry Wilt
It is alarming to learn to what extent our government will go to silence someone!
Joe Mo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Wright on February 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
As someone who reads widely and often, I can honestly say this: Very few books I have ever read have had as profound an impact upon me as Dr. William Pepper's meticulously and exhaustively researched "Orders To Kill". Dr. Pepper spent upwards of 18 years researching the facts behind the King Assassination and is probably the world's leading authority on the subject. "Orders To Kill" contains the results of those 18 years of investigation.
What he found is chilling and disturbing, and should make us wonder what happened to our "democracy": The government of the United States, among others, was deeply involved in the killing. And in a testament to Dr. Pepper's tenacity and skill as an investigative journalist, many of those responsible for King's political murder have actually admitted their complicity in the book (These facts do not 'give away' the plot, since this information is contained on the outside back of the book and because it takes a book of over 500 pages like this one to fully explain the enormity of the event it describes).
In fact, one of the men implicated in the assassination, witnessed the shooting himself and names the individual who actually fired the bullet that killed Dr. King (Hint: it is not James Earl Ray). Of course, this individual named names only after being assured by Dr. Pepper that he would be immune from prosecution for his role in the killing.
Dr. Pepper, through sheer persistence, an iron will, and a burning desire for the truth, has written a book that will grab the reader from page one, and not let go until the bitter (very) end.
The tale it so skillfully tells is a tragic one and is of epic proportions.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Steve Reina VINE VOICE on August 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
This very informative book starts with an introduction by Dexter King, son to Martin Luther King Jr. supporting author/attorney Wiliam Pepper's contention that this book tells the story of why his father died.

In his typically detailed fashion (also on display in Pepper's more recent Act of State) Pepper extensively supports his theories that:

1) James Earl Ray did NOT kill Martin Luther King Jr.

2) That the killing was rather the culmination of a conspiracy by the CIA, the FBI, organized crime, local Memphis law enforcement and others to eliminate King as a potential rival political leader to then President Lyndon Johnson, and

3) That the data supporting these claims includes the following:

a) A failure on the part of ballistics testing to match the gun possessed by Ray as being the actual murder weapon. Subsequent ballistics testing showed that this weapon had a unique charactistic where it would super heat and thereby cause melting to the bullets in a way which frustrate traditional matching attempts.

b) Claims by Ray himself that he was not guilty and that he was an innocent patsy brought to Memphis at the discretion of one Raul (Ray's sort of "one armed man") whok had been in contact with Ray for about a year prior to the killing. It's Rays contention that Raul would periodically give Ray assignments and then pay him in cash for performing those assignments including ultimately the purchase of the weapon police said was used by him to kill King.

c) Evidence that Raul did indeed exist and was linked to corrupt law enforcement in New Orleans.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a very revealing book, exhaustively researched and written in a style that is reasonably easy to read. Read it if you are open to the possibility that the government doesn't always tell us the whole truth about things and you think that, in theory at least, it may do some evil things quite deliberately. Otherwise, don't bother.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By TLR on August 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
There are few books on the Martin Luther King assassination, and many of them support the official story. This is one of the better critical ones. Pepper has been researching this case as long as anyone, and may know more about it than anyone alive. The 1999 civil trial, little-covered by the media, convinced a jury that there was a conspiracy in the MLK case involving elements in the US government.

Table of Contents:
The Principal Players
Photo Gallery
Part I: Background to the Assassination
1. Vietnam: Spring 1966-Summer 1967
2. Death of the New Politics: Summer 1967-Spring 1968
3. Memphis: The Sanitation Workers' Strike, February 1968-March 1968
4. Enter Dr. King: March-April 3, 1968
Part II: The Assassination
5. The Assassination: April 4, 1968
6. Aftermath: April 5-18, 1968
7. Hunt, Extradition, and Plea: May 1968-March 10, 1969
Part III: The Initial Investigation
8. Reentry: Late 1977-October 15, 1978
9. The Visit: October 17, 1978
10. James Earl Ray's Story: October 17, 1978
11. Pieces of the Puzzle: 1978-1979
12. Brother Jerry on the Stand: November 30, 1978
13. The HSCA Report: January 1979
14. Following the Footprints of Conspiracy: January-September 1979
15. Disruption, Relocation and Continuation: 1978-1988
16. More Leads, More Loose Ends: Spring-Summer 1989
17. James Earl Ray's Legal Representation Reexamined
Part IV: The Television Trial of James Earl Ray
18. Preparations for the Television Trial of James Earl Ray: November 1989-September 17, 1992
19. Pretrial Investigations: September-October 1992
20. Corroboration and New Evidence: November 1992
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