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Chasing King's Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Assassin

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  722 ratings  ·  156 reviews
An astonishing account of the assassination of America's most beloved and celebrated civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, by NY Times bestselling author, James L. Swanson.
NAACP Image Award Nominee
Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year
Kirkus Reviews Best Young Adult Book of the Year

* "[James L. Swanson's] masterful work... reveals, in gripping style, how one indiv
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 2nd 2018 by Scholastic Press
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4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  722 ratings  ·  156 reviews

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Apr 02, 2018 rated it liked it
My reason for reading this book was the fact that I was attending the Junior League of Richmond’s Author dinner and the author was discussing this book. It was a fast read and didn’t really offer any new information or facts that haven’t been mentioned before. It felt superficial and lacked any in-depth theories about the event.
Abby Johnson
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a compelling true crime story in the vein of Swanson's other books for young readers. Hand this one to teens and tweens who like adventure stories and learning about history.
Excellent execution with tons of backmatter. Also answers the question of why so little is known of James Earl Ray
Richie Partington
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Richie’s Picks: CHASING KING’S KILLER: THE HUNT FOR MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR’S ASSASSIN by James L. Swanson, Scholastic Press, January 2018, 384p., ISBN: 978-0-545-72333-6

“Rockets, moon shots
Spend it on the have nots
Money, we make it
Fore we see it you take it
Oh, make you wanna holler
The way they do my life”
-- Marvin Gaye, “Inner City Blues” (1971)

“Donald Trump blamed a faulty earpiece Monday for his repeated refusals to disavow the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke during a weekend
Ms. Yingling
Dec 13, 2017 rated it liked it
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Swanson does great historical books, but you have to be REALLY interested in the topic. There are lots and lots of details. I bought Lincoln's Killers and JFK, but I may pass on this because I have lots of information about MLK. Debating.

Reread for the Cybils shortlist.
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Swanson has written another compelling narrative account of a heinous crime. Just as in his two previous assassination accounts, Swanson gives the reader both the before and after of King's assassination. He starts with the account of an attack on King that I'd never heard of before. An attack that nearly killed him ten years before his actual assassination. Dr. King's work in the civil rights movement truly made him a target and he knew it. But he didn't let it stop him from continuing his effo ...more
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: yalsa17
Disclaimer: ARC provided by Scholastic. Book is scheduled to go on sale January 2018.


Readers, teachers, and librarians who are already familiar with the young readers’ adaptations of Chasing Lincoln’s Killer and “The President Has Been Shot” will welcome this addition to the series.

This book is divided into four parts: the first part is a recap of the civil rights movement and King’s leadership; the second part gives background on King’s assassin, James Earl Ray; the third part explains t
Well-crafted and researched nonfiction account of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr - perfect for middle schoolers. Swanson does an excellent job of incorporating primary sources into his text while keeping a strong narrative thread. Highly recommend.
Occasionally a bit dry (but not enough to take it off of 5 stars), but overall, an intriguing look at the events leading up to King's murder, King's assassination, and the manhunt that took place, after.

This book contains easy-to-read chapters, copies of original speeches, maps, photographs, FBI wanted posters, and more! Even though the book is technically 373 pages long, only the first 255 pages are the "story." The rest of the pages are dedicated to "Places to Visit," and for Further Study - a
It's hard to believe that so many years have passed since James Earl Ray assassinated civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. But the decades have flown swiftly, and the fact of the matter is that Ray's motivations for his actions are still unclear. In this thoroughly-researched and engaging book, James Swanson describes the final days of King's life and the collision course with his killer. Readers will be fascinated to learn about Ray's swift evacuation from Memphis and how ...more
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing

The book Chasing King’s Killer is about Martin luther king and a guy named James Earl Ray. The book started at king starting the revolution and then it talked about all connections that king made with the president of the United States. In the book they went back and forth between King and James. In the end they talked more about James and how he planed how to kill King. In the end of the book It talked about how the FBI chased James and what led to his capture.
The word racist is the main word
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is so fascinating. A difficult topic for sure, but the incredibly specific details had me racing sections aloud to people around me, constantly. I learned so much, and I consider myself very well-read when it comes to Dr. King and civil rights in the 60's.

Most fascinating was the doctor's reports of how they treated King at the hospital and the photos and details documenting his funeral and celebration service.

I was also enthralled by the coincidences and turns of fate pointed out by
Rachel Grover
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Absolutely incredible. Filled with primary source photographs and an extensive appendix/back matter, James Swanson does it again, this time retelling the dramatic (and not so dramatic) events leading up to and following the death of Martin Luther King Jr. I was thoroughly impressed with the structure of the book, as well as how fast the story read, considering it's nonfiction. Looking forward to reading much more from him! Will purchase multiple copies for my middle school library.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Swanson does a good job of summing up King's work in a fairly short amount of space in the first part, and the play by play of the assassination was quite suspenseful. I do wish he'd spent a little more time talking about Ray at the end with details of how he fed conspiracy theories from prison. There was more of this in the source notes, but I doubt young readers will go looking there.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, ya
An excellent book and, just a month before the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. King's assassination, an eerie and harrowing read. Well-written, beautifully designed, and contains one of the more remarkable and comprehensive bibliographies you will find on King and the Civil Rights era.
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story answered so many questions I never thought to ask about MLK’s murder. I had no idea he had survived a earlier attempt. I did not know his mother had been assassinated in church at church. This story will keep your attention.
Ms. Hauer
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I’ve read this year. I’m so glad students will have the opportunity to read this book!
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How have I missed this author and series?  Chasing King's Killer:  The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Assassin by James L Swanson brings history to life for students.  And my understanding is that Swanson's other books from this series are even better.  The historical photos found throughout are amazing and enhance the already engaging text.

grade:  A
audience:  middle grade, middle school, junior high, high school

President:  "Until justice is blind to color, until education is u
Kim Bahr
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Swanson helps readers understand the time period, the people, and the historic events. Very engaging read!
Avery Watkins
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a good book! I learned so much! Just the right amount of names, dates, places, facts, along with pictures and descriptions to tell the tale. It read like a thriller mystery that I couldn't put down. It did a nice job connecting other major events of the time as well.
Sam Bloom
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-nonfiction
4.5 stars
Liz Friend
Feb 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The story: Read the true story of how James Earl Ray stalked and murdered Martin Luther King, Jr. Gives details about the life of the great civil rights leader, and about the career criminal who, for reasons unknown, decided to murder him.

June Cleaver's ratings: Language G; Violence PG-13; Sexual content G; Nudity G; Substance abuse G; Magic & the occult G; GLBT content G; adult themes (racism, prejudice, murder, civil rights abuses) PG-13; overall rating PG-13.

Liz's comments: The rating is
Corinne Wilson
The pictures interspersed throughout the book were far more interesting than the book itself, and I did like that Swanson frames King's assassination story with the first and lesser known attempt on his life, when he was stabbed with a letter opener near the heart. It lent some context to the dangers King was facing and the stress of constant threats.

I think Swanson was trying to make his writing accessible to teens, but it felt simplistic and condescending. The writer and his opinions are real
Jamie Gregory
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great, compelling read for middle grades and high school readers! Heartbreaking and full of information to lead to more research. Swanson does a great job of putting King's assassination in historical perspective and explains a lot of the history leading up to his death. Charts and pictures included as well as extensive notes in the back for more reading.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Every aspect of this book was fascinating and I appreciated the many photos and other visuals along with the very thorough bibliography and suggestions of places to visit. The civil rights museum at the Lorraine Motel is one of the best smaller museums I have been to.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
There was a wealth of information here that I did not know, concerning who Ray was and how odd his actions were. It was also interesting to read about the early assassination attempt by the woman in New York. The book was put together well and I enjoyed it.
Leonard Kim
3.5 stars. Markedly good end material for a book for younger readers. Swanson’s treatment of the assassination and its immediate aftermath is undeniably gripping and the strongest part of the book, but that also makes me feel a little ambivalent.
{My thoughts} – I have always enjoyed reading non-fiction books based on past events that have helped to shape the history of the United States of America. This book helps to show what it was like for those individuals that were trying to make a difference in a world so different from the one that we are living in today.

Martian Luther King JR. was a phenomenal individual that had a dream. He wanted all races to be able to coexist in the same places. He wanted all races to have the same rights. H
Stephanie Bange
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In a word, WOW!

Swanson completes his trilogy of non-fiction books about famous American assassinations for young readers, subjects taken from the title of the Dick Holler song "Abraham, Martin, and John".

Opening with a forward by Congressman John Lewis, Swanson jumps into details about the first assassination attempt on King's life, a stabbing in 1958 that was nearly took King's life, by an African American woman. He proceeds to detail what it was like for MLK, Jr. to grow up in the Jim Crow S
I have to say 2018 has been an exceptional year for reading so far. I feel like I've done more 4-5 star ratings than last year and we're only 24 days into January!

But this was eagerly anticipated and really James L. Swanson can do no wrong with his YA/middle grade adaptions to "hunts" for killers of famous people. In this one, it focuses on James Early Ray, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassin. And boy, was there a lot I didn't know about the inner workings of King and his entourage, James Earl R
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James Swanson is the Edgar Award-winning author of the New York Times bestseller Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer. Swanson has degrees in history from the University of Chicago, where he was a student of John Hope Franklin, and in law from the University of California, Los Angeles.

He has held a number of government and think-tank posts in Washington, D.C., including at the United St