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An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther Kingby William F. Pepper
Synopses & Reviews
The definitive account of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, published on the 40th anniversary of his death.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was the most powerful and eloquent champion of the poor and oppressed in US history, and at the height of his fame in the mid-sixties seemed to offer the real possibility of a new and radical beginning for liberal politics in the USA. In 1968, he was assassinated; the movement for social and economic change has never recovered.
The conviction of James Earl Ray for his murder has never looked even remotely safe, and when William Pepper began to investigate the case it was the start of a twenty-five year campaign for justice. At a civil trial in 1999, supported by the King family, seventy witnesses under oath set out the details of the conspiracy Pepper had unearthed: the jury took just one hour to find that Ray was not responsible for the assassination, that a wide-ranging conspiracy existed, and that government agents were involved.
An Act of State lays out the extraordinary facts of the King story—of the huge groundswell of optimism engendered by his charismatic radicalism, of how plans for his execution were laid at the very heart of government and the military, of the disinformation and media cover-ups that followed every attempt to search out the truth. As shocking as it is tragic, An Act of State remains the most compelling and authoritative account of how King's challenge to the US establishment led inexorably to his murder.
The definitive account of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
On April 4 1968, Martin Luther King was in Memphis supporting a workers’ strike. By nightfall, army snipers were in position, military officers were on a nearby roof with cameras, and Lloyd Jowers had been paid to remove the gun after the fatal shot was fired. When the dust had settled, King had been hit and a clean-up operation was set in motion-James Earl Ray was framed, the crime scene was destroyed, and witnesses were killed. William Pepper, attorney and friend of King, has conducted a thirty-year investigation into his assassination. In 1999, Loyd Jowers and other co-conspirators were brought to trial in a civil action suit on behalf of the King family. Seventy witnesses set out the details of a conspiracy that involved J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, Richard Helms and the CIA, the military, Memphis police, and organized crime. The jury took an hour to find for the King family. In An Act of State, you finally have the truth before you-how the US government shut down a movement for social change by stopping its leader dead in his tracks.
William Pepper was a young journalist, just back from Vietnam, when he first met Martin Luther King Jr. His photographs and first-hand accounts of the war prompted King's unflinching commitment to oppose it. On 15 April 1967 Pepper proposed an alternative to the re-election of Lyndon Johnson to a cheering New York crowd. Dr. Benjamin Spock was to be King's running mate highlighting an antipoverty and antiwar agenda. A year later Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. The movement for social and economic change in the US has never been substantially, successfully revived.
Doubts raised from an initial ten- year investigation and hours of interrogations of James Earl Ray prompted Pepper to take up his case. The King family, persuaded by the growing evidence, joined his struggle in 1996. At the 1999 trial seventy witnesses under oath set out the details of the conspiracy and the jury took an hour to find for the King family. It was ruled that a wide-running conspiracy existed and that government agents were involved. The story was effectively buried.
An Act of State lays out, in hairraising detail, the facts of the case as it evolved. These tell a tragic story of King's powerful and significant radicalism, government plans for his execution that involved the military and the FBI, media cover-ups, and the corporate forces that were already claiming their hold on the nation's polity.
About the Author
William F. Pepper is an English barrister and an American lawyer. He practices international human rights law from the US and from London, and has convened a seminar on international human rights at Oxford University. He has represented governments and heads of state, and has appeared as an expert on international law issues. He is the author of four other books and numerous articles.
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