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Killing King // Unidentified // Shadow Warfare // Surprise Attack
Killing King Reviews

See it here at kirkusreviews.com

A fascinating and disturbing look at complexities underlying a shameful historical epoch.

"A labyrinthine investigation into conspirators linked to James Earl Ray, convicted assassin of Martin Luther King Jr. Investigative researchers Wexler and Hancock (co-authors: Shadow Warfare: The History of America's Undeclared Wars, 2014, etc.) dive deeply into an unsavory American underground in which the determination to destroy King ran deeper than commonly remembered. “The solution to King’s murder is simple,” they write. “The same kind of racists who had been trying to kill King for years had finally succeeded that April 4.” Regarding Ray, they note “his role is only one strand in the overall web.” Assembling a chronological narrative, the authors examine an alliance between the violent White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and wealthy businessmen, which offered a bounty on King’s life dating to at least 1964; word spread in Southern prisons, where Ray would learn of it. Ray is portrayed as a money-hungry career criminal, leading to speculation that he pre-empted a larger conspiracy or overstepped his role. Wexler and Hancock suggest that this racist network, reeling from the passage of civil rights legislation, saw King’s death as key to starting a full-scale race war, inspired by the ascendance of Christian Identity, a religion combining anti-black racism with anti-Semitism, and by violent fringe political groups such as the National States’ Rights Party. The authors claim these factors have been underexamined, arguing that adherents “viewed King as an agent of the Satanic-Jewish conspiracy.” While Klansmen ramped up a campaign of violence around 1967, King “shifted his priorities to issues of social and economic justice,” lessening his support among mainstream Americans and black radicals questioning nonviolence. As for Ray, the authors meticulously reconstruct his wanderings before King’s murder, showing a hapless fugitive rather than a committed terrorist: “Events in Memphis do not suggest a well-planned conspiracy, certainly not if Ray was the designated shooter.” Their account is clear, though reliant on supposition and a dizzying cast of unsavory characters. A fascinating and disturbing look at complexities underlying a shameful historical epoch."

See it here at publishersweekly.com
Eye-opening, well-researched new perspective on King’s murder

"Researchers Wexler (America’s Secret Jihad) and Hancock (Shadow Warfare) bolster their contention that the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. was the product of a conspiracy, in agreement with the 1979 findings of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. The authors conclude there were at least nine such attempts over a decade, and the “solution to King’s murder is simple[;] the same kind of racists who had been trying to kill King for years had finally succeeded.” Their evidence comes in part from extensive interviews with Donald Nissen, an ex-con who, in 1967, reported to the FBI that he had been approached by a fellow prisoner at Leavenworth Prison about sharing a bounty of $100,000 for helping to kill King. The authors also link King’s murder to the 1964 murder of civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner; they believe both were orchestrated by the Ku Klux Klan. While it may be overly optimistic to hope, as the authors do, for a reopening of the case by federal authorities 50 years after the assassination, they credibly argue that the many unanswered questions remaining would warrant such a step. This book provides an eye-opening, well-researched new perspective on King’s murder."

See it here at booklistonline.com
  "In this intricately woven, impressively researched, and painstakingly delineated analysis, investigative researchers Wexler and Hancock place King’s assassination and its investigation by a sometimes woefully inept FBI within the racial and cultural mores of the time. Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s death, this elaborately documented examination of one of the defining crimes of the twentieth century brings new light to a dark period in the nation’s history."

Unidentified Reviews
Robert Powell, Co-author of UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry, Director of Research and head of the Science Review Board for the Mutual UFO Network, member of the Society for Scientific Exploration, and the UFODATA Project.
  A tantalizing book (Robert Powell)

"Unidentified: The Intelligence Problem of UFOs/ is a tantalizing book that takes a different look at the history of UFOs. The book approaches the sightings of UFOs beginning in the 1940s in the way an intelligence agency or military body would examine the information at hand. Is there a threat? Are these reconnaissance flights? What type of information could they be gathering? These are the types of questions addressed and it makes the reader consider the UFO issue from a completely different light. /Unidentified/ is an enjoyable book that will challenge your view of the UFO phenomenon."

Shadow Warfare Reviews

  Grim yet trenchant portrait of American imperial reach (Kirkus)

Congress declares war, right? Constitutionally, yes—but, as intelligence analysts Hancock and Wexler (The Awful Grace of God: Religious Terrorism, White Supremacy, and the Unsolved Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr., 2012) write, there’s a reason it doesn’t.

“It is significant to note,” write the authors, “that the United States Congress has not officially declared war since 1941.” That hasn’t kept America from waging dozens of wars large and small, but the point is deniability: If a war goes pear-shaped, then Congress allows the president to take the blame. It’s a convenient arrangement, save that it has left presidents free to do things like land divisions in Vietnam and Iraq.

Yet, as Hancock and Wexler demonstrate, Asia is almost an outlier: It’s really been Latin America that has born the weight of America’s military operations, especially covert ones, for years. They document, for instance, the U.S. military’s involvement in hunting down Che Guevara, supposedly the work of the Bolivian army, and the role of the U.S. government in destabilizing and overthrowing other governments.

The first president to do so vigorously was Dwight Eisenhower, who had no problem utilizing “surrogate troops, ‘mercenary’ air support, intense psychological warfare, and threat of political assassinations.” Since then, other presidents have made ample use of the formula.

The handy thing about all this, for a president, is that the constitutional system of checks and balances gets put on the shelf. Cynics will find nothing new in the authors’ overall argument, though even the best-schooled of them will find surprises: We all know that the U.S. mined the harbors of North Vietnam, but who knew that Ronald Reagan did so in Nicaragua? Who knew that the CIA has worked hand in hand with the world’s major drug dealers, and that, for all its bloated budget, the Pentagon’s major emphasis is now on cost-effective, good-bang-for-the-buck “gray warfare”?

Readers who care about the intentions of the Founders and the niceties of human rights will come away depressed by this grim yet trenchant portrait of American imperial reach—and overreach.

  Their extensive research is wrapped in politically neutral prose (Booklist)

All American presidents since Franklin Roosevelt have ordered clandestine military actions. Hancock and Wexler investigate why commanders-in-chief find secrecy appealing. The U.S. sponsorship of the operations detailed in this tome was concealed in most cases to avoid political controversy within the U.S. or within a country hosting the covert program. The authors cite FDR's authorization to create an American air force in China --the Flying Tigers--as a template; the president decided the action was necessary but impolitic to reveal to the public.

So it went with secret Cold War military operations in Tibet, Indochina, Guatemala, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Afghanistan. So it continues in the conflict with radical Islam. Deniability as a feature of covert warfare parallels the authors' attention to tactical methods, such as the use of front companies, which may interest readers of intelligence history, while those concerned with the constitutionality of this subject will be sated with discussion of its legal aspects.

Because their extensive research is wrapped in politically neutral prose, Hancock and Wexler can engage a range of readers with a controversial topic.

Surprise Attack Reviews

See it here at kirkusreviews.com
  A valuable examination of U.S. national security crises past and present (Kirkus)

A specialist in national security issues and intelligence, Hancock (Someone Would Have Talked: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, 2010, etc.) tackles the slippery and continuously vexing subject of surprise attacks against the U.S. Was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor really a “surprise” since there were numerous warnings, or was it rather a breakdown of the crucial C3, command, control, and communications? As the Soviet Union became the new threat after World War II, intelligence-gathering methods had to be beefed up to combat the growing “fear factors” introduced by the availability of atomic weapons. In the 1950s, the proliferation of alleged UFO sightings became a problem, from New Mexico to Washington, D.C., which underscored the sense of vulnerability of American national security. The Cuban missile crisis was a horrific moment in modern nuclear feasibility, yet Hancock points out the failure of U.S. intelligence in “several potentially disastrous areas” in getting the Soviets to back down. The author follows the evolution of the National Command Authority, culminating in the creation of the new “watch center,” called the Situation Room, to meet new threats, including the shooting of Ronald Reagan in 1982. The emergence “out of the shadows” of stateless terrorists at war with the U.S. occupies the last chapters of this thoroughly researched work, from the PLO seizures of aircraft and ocean liners to terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001. Considering the attention given by the Clinton administration to combating terrorism, Hancock notes his surprise at the breakdown in heeding warnings, and he moves step by step in delineating “points of failure.” The 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi underscores the current fragility of diplomatic missions and flimsiness of security.

A timely, pertinent study emphasizing the fact that when it comes to military or terrorist attacks, “there are always warnings.” 

See it here at publishersweekly.com
  Generalized warnings are futile in the absence of good threat intelligence (Publishers Weekly)

Ample warnings preceded Pearl Harbor and every subsequent attack on U.S. soil and U.S. forces, writes Hancock (Nexus: The CIA and Political Assassination), a veteran national security journalist, in this detailed, technical, and pessimistic analysis of American defense policy. Accounts of incompetence miss the point, he adds, and generalized warnings are futile in the absence of good threat intelligence, actual alerts, and prepared defenses. American war planners after 1945 assumed that the U.S.S.R. would start the next war without warning; the result was a vast, expensive, worldwide early-warning system and a huge military equipped with nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert. This impressed Stalin—who never planned a sneak attack—but did not prevent other surprises. In Hancock’s dog-eat-dog world, rational powers (U.S., U.S.S.R., China, Putin’s Russia) obsessively mirror each other’s actions and in the process accumulate nuclear weapons, bomber fleets, or missiles far beyond any necessity. Irrational players such as al Qaeda, ISIS, and even Pakistan simply follow their bliss. Hancock stresses that even without warnings, every attack would have failed if sensible alerts and defenses had been in place. He is not shy about suggesting improvements, but admits that since American leaders may never get their act together, more surprises are likely in store.

See it here at bookverdict.com
  An important topic for everyone – for all libraries (Library Journal)

Surprise attacks, both potential ones and those that have actually occurred, have haunted the United States for decades. Hancock (Nexus) studies several incidents to understand the complicated evolution of the warning and response systems, and what worked and what went wrong within the U.S. intelligence and defense communities. In clear and detailed writing, the author focuses on the widespread American command and control networks that examine strategic/national and tactical/local intelligence. Just as important as threat assessment and detection is the idea of credible deterrence theory—the actions a country can take to make an opponent think twice about the costs to themselves from any attack.


An important topic for everyone to comprehend, as the threat of a new attack is constant, both from home-grown extremists as well as foreign groups.

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