May 10

Hellhound on His Trail

Here are some questions to answer about the book:

1. Galt never gave a direct reason to hate Dr. King – we only know that Galt hated blacks because of his love for Alabama governor George Wallace and his run-in at the bar), so what were his reasons for going after Dr. King?

2. Did you like how the author wrote the novel as a thriller while writing a true crime novel?

3. When people die, people tend to forget all of that person’s bad traits.  Do you think that the public’s opinions of Dr. King changed after he was assassinated? Why or why not?

4.Do you feel that Hoover and the FBI’s stalking of King was acceptable or an invasion of privacy for no reason?

5. If an assassination of a public figure had happened today, do you think it would take as long to find the killer?  Why or why not?

6. It seemed like Dr. King had a feeling or premonition like he wouldn’t live much longer, how – if you were him – would you have felt and what would you have done?  Why?

7. Should the FBI have shared in the blame of Dr. King’s death for not better protecting him when death threats were a regular thing for Dr. King?

8. Why do you think the book put so much emphasis and detail on the activities King was doing just before getting killed?

9. How did Eric Galt get most of his money?

10. Do you think the authorities would have done something different with Ray if Dr. King had lived?  Would there have been as big of a manhunt?

11. Considering how much Hoover had hated Dr. King, was it surprising the number of people Hoover had sent out for the manhunt for King’s assassin? Why or why not?

12. Do you think Galt realized the effects that King’s assassination would have had on America (like the riots that happened afterwards)?  Were these his intentions or were they unintended consequences?  Why?

13. Why do you think the author included Galt’s previous activities like drugs and bar fights in Mexico and drfiting around Los Angeles working for the Wallace campaign?

Pick two of these questions and answer them by Friday, May 17. 

250 words minimum for your total answer. 

April 21

The Conspirator – E.C. Blog

The Conspirator came out this weekend (No. 9 in movie sales) and told a little known story about the trial of Mary Surratt and the three assassins accused of being involved in John Wilkes Booth’s plan to throw the country into chaos immediately after the Civil War had been won in mid April 1865.  Confederate general Robert E. Lee had surrendered on April 9, and the country was in the mood for celebrating that Easter weekend beginning with Friday, April 14.  But President Lincoln was killed so suddenly afterwards that there was little time for rejoicing.

One of the things that I wondered before I saw the film was, why was the film being made?  Sure, the film could capitalize on the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the war this month.  The film was telling an unknown part of American history, as I mentioned earlier, so at least it wasn’t covering old ground.  As the film started examining the tensions still bubbling under the surface during the trial, it became clearer to me why Robert Redford made the film.

In the aftermath of a very traumatic event, while the country was still in a war mood (the last Confederate army under Joseph Johnston still hadn’t been captured or surrendered yet, nor had Confederate President Jefferson Davis been arrested yet either), Confederate prisoners like Mary Surratt and the assassins weren’t treated like regular prisoners.  They were tried by a military tribunal (with nine military men acting as judges and jury), the prisoners’ rights to due process, a fair trial by jury, a lawyer’s preparation for trial, disclosure of evidence, and other legal rights were violated in these procedures.

Pick two of the following questions to answer:

 – What did you think of the Union’s treatment of Confederate sympathizers / assassins?  Did it seem fair or unjust?  Why?

 – The government’s prosecutor, Judge Advocate Holt argued against any further delay of the trial of the assassins in order to help the nation “heal its wounds.”  Do you think the trial helped this process or prolong the healing of the country?

 – Since the North couldn’t execute the primary assassin, John Wilkes Booth, do you think the nation’s rage and anger became directed at the remaining assassins?  Why or why not?

 – Explain the deeper subtext of the film in a post – 9/11/01 terrorist attack America and the wider treatment of Muslims as suspects (w/ little to no evidence). 

Due Monday May 9.  Max 10 points (200 words minimum).