How a Klan Lawyer and a Checkbook Journalist Helped James Earl Ray Cover Up His Crime
By Pate McMichael


336 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Mobipocket, PDF

PDF, $18.99 (US $18.99) (CA $25.99)

ISBN 9781613730720

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Apr 2015)

Price: $18.99
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At 6:01 pm on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Martin Luther King Jr. was killed by a single bullet fired from an elevated and concealed position. Yet unanswered questions surround the circumstances of his demise, and many still wonder whether justice was served. After all, only one man, an escaped convict from Missouri named James Earl Ray, was punished for the crime. On the surface, Ray did not fit the caricature of a hangdog racist thirsty for blood. Media coverage has often portrayed him as hapless and apolitical, someone who must have been paid by clandestine forces. It's a narrative that Ray himself put in motion upon his June 1968 arrest in London, then continued from jail until his death in 1998. In 1999, Dr. King's own family declared Ray an innocent man. After his arrest, Ray forged a publishing partnership with two very strange bedfellows: a slick Klan lawyer named Arthur J. Hanes, the de facto "Klonsel" for the United Klans of America, and checkbook journalist William Bradford Huie, the darling of Look magazine and a longtime menace of the KKK. Despite polar opposite views on race, Hanes and Huie found common cause in the world of conspiracy. Together, they thought they could make Memphis the new Dallas. Relying on novel primary source discoveries gathered over an eight-year period, including a trove of newly released documents and dusty files, Klandestine takes readers deep inside Ray's Memphis jail cell and Alabama's violent Klaverns. Told through Hanes and Huie's key perspectives, it shows how a legacy of unpunished racial killings provided the perfect exigency to sell a lucrative conspiracy to a suspicious and outraged nation.


"Because such true stories about government smoke screens and unanswered cries for justice have echoes in the 21st-century American criminal justice system, the author's narrative remains topical and relevant. McMichael ably leads readers to the conclusion that, in this case, no one's hands were clean." —Kirkus Reviews

"This is a compelling book, a detailed and well-documented story about a killer, a racist lawyer, and an avaricious journalist… A worthwhile contribution to most civil rights collections." —Booklist

"Pate McMichael not only puts to rest the legend of a conspiracy to kill Martin Luther King Jr. but, in lucid, compelling prose, he also demonstrates how that legend was constructed, and why it persists. Anyone interested in civil rights history, the 1960s, King, or conspiracy theories—or just a great story—should grab this book and hold on tight." —Clay Risen, author of The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act and American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation's Favorite Spirit

"Backed by deep research and driven by a fast-paced narrative, Pate McMichael's new book sifts through the fog of conspiracy theories, illuminating how an unlikely pair constructed James Earl Ray's alibi for the assassination of Martin Luther King." —Aram Goudsouzian, author of Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear

Author Biography

Pate McMichael is an award-winning journalist. His stories have been published in Atlanta magazine, Saint Louis magazine, Zócalo Public Square, and elsewhere. He lives in Madison, Georgia.