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An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King Hardcover – January 17, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Forget everything you think you know, Pepper insists. James Earl Ray did not pull the trigger. The journalist-turned-lawyer's previous title, Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King Jr., was more a prelude to this title than the final word. Twenty years after James Earl Ray was convicted, Pepper set out to clear him; in the process, he brought to light reams of evidence that were ignored in the original trial. The key to his case is Loyd Jowers, a bar owner who claims to have disposed of the murder weapon at the request of a local mob figure. Partially on the strength of the Orders to Kill material, Pepper won the support of King's wife and children, who brought Jowers and "unknown co-conspirators" to trial in a civil wrongful death suit in 1999. Dozens of witnesses contributed to a forceful, detailed case that accused the FBI, the CIA, the U.S. military, the Memphis police, and local and national organized crime leaders. After only an hour of deliberation, the jury found for the King family. The accusers, led by Pepper, cried vindication and fully expected to be at the center of one of the biggest news stories of the century. But the trial and the verdict barely registered in the media. Appalled by the silence that followed, Pepper remained determined to bring the details of his exhaustive probe and subsequent civil case to the public, and the result is this exacting book, dense with evidence and analysis of the murder. Pepper sets the tone by recalling the state of civil unrest in this country during the late 1960s and why King's radical activism was such a threat to government and corporate leaders. Simply put, Pepper claims those in power were scared to death of the mass mobilization King's Poor People's Campaign might have inspired. Pepper gradually introduces the vast cast of characters in a dizzying murder conspiracy that winds from a Memphis bar through the shadows of organized crime to the far reaches of national government. He carefully maps each player's place and role in the tangled web and doggedly tries to stick to a straightforward narrative. The number of unanswered questions complicates those efforts, but does not cloud the evidence that Ray was not the shooter. Pepper attempts nothing less than a rewrite of history, and a spurring of further investigation. While his moralizing epilogue on the deterioration of democracy is distracting, it is heartfelt, and honors Pepper's commitment to King's legacy.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In 1978, Pepper began investigating the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. In this absorbing and detailed book, Pepper maintains that James Earl Ray was not the assassin. Instead, Pepper's investigation points to a conspiracy by the U.S. government and its military and intelligence organizations to silence King's growing criticism of the Vietnam War and his anti-poverty campaign. In part one, Pepper focuses on his early investigative efforts, including interviews with several witnesses to King's murder. Pepper also details his efforts to get a new trial for convicted assassin James Ray, and the cooperation by the King family in that effort. Part two details the 1999 trial, several years after Ray's death, and new testimony and forensic evidence pointing to government involvement in the assassination and cover-up. Pepper roundly criticizes the U.S. media for its lack of coverage of the trial; he also takes to task the 1998 report by the U.S. Attorney General, an investigation undertaken by the Clinton administration in lieu of the independent investigation requested by Pepper and the King family. Pepper also explores the promise for social change represented by King's aborted anti-war and anti-poverty campaigns. Readers--particularly conspiracy buffs--interested in the details surrounding the King assassination will enjoy this passionate, disturbing, and well-researched book. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
Also NYT related, the author William Pepper relates how NYT reporter Earl Caldwell was sent by the NYT on a mission to "...nail Dr. King" in 1968. Caldwell also disputed the official story as he saw a white man crouching in the bushes behind Jim's Grill and the rooming house. Yet the NYT has always supported the official story over the eyewitness testimony of their own reporter.
Mr. Pepper also relates at length the serious problems he encountered with ABC News and their "Turning Point" program, the producers of which went out of their way to sabotage his efforts to expose the US military's covert role in the assassination.
The problem with the book and the reason for giving it three stars is Mr. Pepper's poor choice to include a lot of sketchy characters and their stories, which together only undermine his main theory that the US military perpetrated the assassination after MLK went off the reservation and attacked the Pentagon and Vietnam war and then called for a march on Washington to demand justice for America's poor. I do not at all question that theory, I completely believe that the military killed MLK and did so for those reasons. Eliminating segregation in the south was a US government policy objective as the policy was devastating for US goals around the world in the conflict with the Soviet Union. However, the Vietnam war was their main attack and American policy has always been to exploit the poor, it's basically the core operating principle of the American economic system.
When MLK called for the march on Washington to help America's poor and aimed that objective at the Pentagon's funding he sealed his fate, and he knew it. It was just a matter of where and when the bullet would arrive.
In countries the Pentagon occupies they set up "Green Zones" and "No Go Zones". If you look around America you see Green Zones where the top five percent of income owners work and play. Around them are a lot of Nowhere Zones made up of a devastated and disappearing middle class and further out massive undiscussed rural poverty. America's cities are dominated by "No Go Zones"
Why the similarity? America is occupied by the Pentagon.