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The Autobiography of Malcolm X (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – March, 2001

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Editorial Reviews


Extraordinary ... a brilliant, painful, important book New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Modern Classics (Book 18)
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books by Arrangement with Hutchinson (March 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141185430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141185439
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (745 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

168 of 177 people found the following review helpful By Christopher A. Smith on June 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Autobiography of Malcolm X belongs on the short-list of any compilations of best biographies/autobiographies for two reasons. First, the fact that among all the public figures that American history has to offer, Malcolm is undoubtedly one of the most complex. Secondly, Alex Haley does an amazing job of transporting the reader into Malcolm's thoughts and feelings. Praise of this book is not simply praise of the subject; this is also a powerful literary work and a sharp piece of history.
Autobiography is a classic American tale of one of the most misunderstood figures in American history. Malcolm has been and is viewed as everything from an evil racist hate-monger to the champion of modern day militant pro-Black radicals. What he was, in reality, was a remarkably intelligent and charismatic leader who reflected the ills of the society around him, changed throughout his life, and gradually evolved from ignorance to anger to enlightenment. Autobiography should be required reading for anyone who claims to have an opinion on Malcolm.
My strong recommendation is not simply praise for Malcolm; certainly it would be possible to write an uninteresting book on a compelling figure. My recommendation for this particular biography comes for the power and precision of Alex Haley's writing. Haley puts us in Malcolm's schoolroom, amongst the petty criminals of his youth, in the penitentiary, amongst the militants of the Nation of Islam, and in Mecca and Africa, where he underwent his final transformation. We see what Malcolm sees, and we feel what Malcolm feels. This is a critically important element in the success of this amazing biography.
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73 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Patrick J. Jones on February 15, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Title: The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley

Pages: 466

Time spent on the "to read" shelf: I must have purchased this book in 2001 or 2002, so about 7 or 8 years.

Days spent reading it: 10 days.

Why I read it: During college I wrote a report in my Intro to Islam class about Black Muslims. In writing that report I discovered that Malcolm X started off with a deviant form of Islam, but after his trip to Mecca he began to change his views about Islam and also his views on hating all "white devils." I picked up this book because I was interested in Malcolm X's life after writing that report.

Brief review: Wow. This book was not what I expected at all. Reading this autobiography was more compelling than I could have imagined. I was engaged in Malcolm's life from start to finish. Starting with his street hustler days in Harlem, to his conversion to Islam (as preached by Elijah Muhammad) in prison, to his break with Elijah Muhammad, to his pilgrimage to Mecca, and ending with his assassination, this book was informative and entertaining.

A few things I found most interesting about Malcolm's life. First, Malcolm X was full of hatred for what the "white devil" had done to the black man. He saw injustice, called white men out on it, and sought to fix the situation. While I do not agree with his militant tactics, I respect his unflagging devotion to righting centuries of wrongs. Second, I find his change after his trip to Mecca as completely astonishing. He completely transformed his views. He stopped saying all white men were the devil. He started pointing to the system that oppressed, and that many white men perpetuated. It is a fascinating study to look at how drastically he changed in those last few months of his life.
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85 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Captain Howdy on December 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Let me be crystal clear and extremely frank in this review. The Autobiography of Malcolm X is my FAVORITE book and, I believe, one of the most important books written in the 20th Century. There have been many printings of this book and they have had slight alterations throughout their publishing. The original 1965 edition came with photos. There have always been three missing chapters that are still held by a private owner. However, Penguin Modern Classics has reprinted this essential piece of literature anew-WITHOUT THE ORIGINAL EPILOGUE or Ossie Davis' contributions to the work. This means, essentially, THAT THE ASSASSINATION HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM THE BOOK! Reading this version of the book will leave the reader wondering how Malcolm was assassinated, who was responsible and so forth. In addition, the first page of the book is a generalizing synopsis that has the audacity to claim that Malcolm advocated change through the vehicle of violence. Anyone who has read the complete Malcolm X Autobiography in depth knows fully well that this is untrue, an absolute falsity and misrepresentation that can lead to dangerous miscalculations. Omitting the Epilogue, for a topic this serious, is not only censorship, but one must conclude that it was done intentionally. If it was done intentionally, the only real motive could be to mislead a new generation of people trying to learn THE TRUTH about Malcolm. It's a shame that they won't be able to find all of it in his own book!
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79 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on October 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am not a racist in any form whatever. I don't believe in any form of racism. I don't believe in any form of discrimination or segregation. I believe in Islam. -Malcolm X
This was the final triumph of Malcolm X and the resolution that makes his life story into a classic American tale: that in the end, he was able to move beyond the chrysalis of his racial hatred and emerge an integrated enlightened being. I'm sure most everyone has either read this book or seen Spike Lee's excellent biopic, so we need not rehash the story too thoroughly. Anyway, what matters are the essentials. Malcolm Little was a street punk when he was exposed to the Nation of Islam in prison. This exposure, and the racial pride and anger that went with it, lead him to educate himself and get involved with the Nation, where he became one of the most effective spokesmen and organizers. A confrontational proponent of racial separatism and black self-reliance, during the Civil Rights struggle, he was yin to Martin Luther King's yang (or as I read somewhere, he was the Old Testament figure, King was a figure from the New)--the constant reminder to whites that if King's nonviolent methods failed to produce results, millions of righteously resentful young black men were waiting in the wings. But, when Malcolm X made a hadj to Mecca, he discovered that there were Moslems of all races, worshipping together peacefully, and that racism played no part in traditional Islam. And so, in the closing days of his life, he split from the Nation of Islam, adopting true Islamic beliefs and practices and earning the enmity of Nation leaders who had him assassinated.
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