An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King

Front Cover
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.

What people are saying - Write a review

AN ACT OF STATE: The Execution of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

User Review  - Kirkus

Pepper, a lawyer and longtime investigator into the King shooting, musters copious evidence pointing to James Earl Ray's not having acted alone.In the almost 35 years since King was assassinated ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jensenmk82 - LibraryThing

Interesting evidence and an intriguing theory, but very poorly organized, on certain details weakly supported and lacking in sources that can be produced, and presented in a writing style that can ... Read full review


The beginning
The television trial of James Earl Ray
New strands and connections
Raul and the Grabows
The conspiracy deepens
New allies revelations and untimely deaths
The trial
The aftermath and a posttrial summary
A vision unto death and a truth beyond
the how and the why of
The United States Attorney Generals report

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2003)

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.

Bibliographic information