Truth at Last: The Untold Story Behind James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
John Larry Ray / Author, Lyndon Barsten / Author Lyons Press $
An innocent, brain-washed ""patsy,"" not a racist killer: that's the verdict on James Earl Ray delivered by this rambling, aggrieved King-assassination conspiracy theory (published in time for the 40th anniversary of King's murder). John Larry Ray, James's brother, assisted by King-assassination researcher Barsten, detects the hidden hand of ""the feds"" and the Mafia orchestrating James's misadventures, from his 1948 shooting of a black soldier (probably induced by a federal ""mind-control experiment""), to his long criminal career and pre-assassination wanderings at the direction of mystery-man Raul. The authors' flimsy proofs include glitches in James's military records that supposedly hint at CIA links; alleged associations with hypnotists; anecdotes about his fondness for African-Americans dubious ballistics data; and an assassination-eve meeting of the two brothers in which James brooded murkily about a set-up. Alas, the author's attempts to discern a sinister master-plan-a string of grocery-store robberies, they conjecture, was an intelligence ""operation"" to get James ""held in a prison for possible use later""-fall flat. Also an apologia for John's own extensive rap sheet (""I was wrongly accused of trying to blow up the warden's office with nitroglycerine""), the book fails to inflate the Ray brothers' sad picaresque into grand injustice.
Reviewed on: 03/31/2008