Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Empty Lives, Loaded Guns

Hampton Sides sees parallels between Jared Loughner and James Earl Ray

January 17, 2011 The most recent book by Memphis native Hampton Sides is a nonfiction story that reads like a novel. As the author of Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin, Sides spent years considering the psyche of the kind of angry, unbalanced man who might aim a gun at a civic leader. Sides sees a lot of James Earl Ray in Jared Loughner, the man who shot Representative Gabrielle Richards outside a Tuscon grocery store:

“Sadly, the events in Arizona last week carry many odd hints and echoes of the events in the spring of 1968 that culminated in King’s death at the hands of James Earl Ray,” Sides writes in Newsweek. “Then, as now, the country was fighting an intractable and apparently interminable war against a hard-to-find enemy on the other side of the planet—a conflict that had drained the nation’s coffers and left the populace fatigued and paranoid. Then, as now, the airwaves seethed with reactionary speech. Then, as now, gun sales were going up, up, up.”

To read the full essay, click here.