You get an eerie feeling when reading “Hellhound on His Trail,” Hampton Sides’ great new book that traces James Earl Ray’s stalking of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

There’s an overwhelming feeling of the horrific similarity between the national mood in 1968 (George Wallace was making a serious run at the White House) and today. Time after time you feel the similarity between things certain people were saying then and what certain people are saying now.

Some of the terms, accusations and threats voiced in 1968 will seem quite familiar to things being said, accusations being made and the threats being voiced in 2010 America. One salient similarity is that the willingness to toss around words such as “socialist,” “communist” and the N-word has returned after a 40-year period in which those terms were largely absent from public and political discourse.