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Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America Paperback – January 2, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Barrytown/Station Hill Press, Inc.; Reprint edition (January 2, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0882681214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0882681214
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #999,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Exhaustively researched, this compelling biography corrects Malcolm X's Autobiography at innumerable points as it peels away the black revolutionary's tough-as-steel persona to reveal the vulnerable man underneath. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-- After 18 years of meticulous research and gathering oral and written observations of over 400 people who knew Malcolm X, Perry has produced a sensitive biography that chronicles the entire life of this heroic figure from his birth in Nebraska, his adolescent troubles with deprivation and drug addiction, his terror-filled prison ordeal, his conversion to Islam, through his rise as a Muslim leader, and, finally, his assassination. This compelling biography corrects and fills in the details of Malcom's autobiography (American Reprints) as told to Alex Haley. This book will change how readers see Malcolm and, because of that, it will be controversial. --Mike Printz, Topeka West High School, KS
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is good if only for the insight into Malcolm's childhood. Other than that, it makes too many cynical conclusions based on whatever it is the author was trying to get across-- which by the end, is still unclear. Reading the introduction one would assume that this book was poised to breathe new insight on Malcolm the political figure and man. However, what you end up getting is more of a repetitious editorial piece. The author almost insults the intelligence of the reader by constantly rehashing the possible reasoning for Malcolm's every move. At one point, he suggests that Attallah was favored by Malcolm because of her light skin (like his) the way his dark-skinned father had once favored him. Perry also volunteers the very real and most likely possibility that Malcolm took this particular daughter to different events because she was the oldest of the girls. This is just one example of how he insists on giving the reader something to ponder on Malcolm's sincerity as a Black leader, tangible or not. There are parts of this book that indeed ring true with me for what I have interperted Malcolm to be, but these instances are too few and far between. I was in no way expecting an idealized picture to be painted here, only this book offers no real balance. Beyond this wounded Malcolm he avidly portrays, what else was there? Also for the attention he gave to alleged homosexual activity, arson, etc. he mentioned Betty Shabazz sparsely as if she held no importance in Malcolm's life. I found that fact very telling. After supposedly over 400+ interviews, Perry could only gather enough to give the mother of Malcolm's six children passing mentions. I actually got more of a rounded glimpse of Malcolm the man in the biography of Betty Shabazz by Russell J. Rickford.Read more ›
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Andre M. on June 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
I was not too fond of this book, not because I'm a Malcolm fan, but there are too many conclusions that Perry makes with weak evidence. Such as Malcolm's father (and Malcolm himself) setting their houses on fire, Malcolm's alleged homosexual activity, Malcolm asking the Klan why they allowed Dr. King to live, etc. etc. One could see why Dr. Betty Shabazz (Malcolm's wife)told Perry to get lost!
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Tom (London) on July 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
You have to question what Perry wanted to achieve from this book. He seems to have missed, or overlooked, all of the important issues that Malcolm X stood for.
He takes the word of Malcolm's detractors as the gospel truth and diminishes Malcolm's teachings and beliefs by portraying them as paranoid.
Perry seems obsessed with highlighting flaws in Malcolm's personality and uses this device to side step the vital lessons which Malcolm was trying to teach - lesson's which still need to be learnt today.
By all means read this book, but do so very objectively.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By D. J. Pohlman on March 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Unlike many of the other reviewers, I thought that Perry truly succeeded in this biography of Malcolm. I think that one must have read Malcolm's autobiography to appreciate this book; that said, I'm very glad to have read another source besides the Malcolm/Haley classic. This work does take a critical look into the life of Malcolm, and Perry does seem determined to cast doubt upon Malcolm X's own statements, but I don't think that this was to malign or to lessen Malcolm's credibility and accomplishments. Perry provides the reader with a well researched and backed viewpoint to allow for greater discussion and interpretation of Malcolm's thoughts. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has read Malcolm's autobiography, and who would like to learn more about it.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Znarf on December 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I understand why a reader might have an ambivalence about this book - at least one other Amazon reviewer commented on Perry's interjecting his own opinions into the mix. Perry does indeed freely share his own thoughts on why Malcolm does what he does, which initially reminded me of the unnecessary analysis of jazz writer James Lincoln Collier, which I found somewhat annoying and which contributed to my initally putting the book down.

Yet the second time I picked it up I had a fresh appreciation for it, and I can forgive what I initially saw as a flaw. This is partly because Perry does not beat you over the head with it, and because, perhaps more to the point, he did his homework and may well have come to know Malcolm better than anyone else, including Malcolm himself. Perry interviewed several hundred friends, relatives and others who were part of Malcolm's life from childhood on, and he's an excellent researcher who often cites several sources for a single comment. Thankfully, he is most definitely not the bookish biographer who simply lays out facts carefully culled from archival sources. He has done a remarkable job of wrapping his head around a highly intelligent, complex and contradictory subject, and while it's clear that he respects Malcolm highly, he's also clear-eyed and doesn't hesitate to straighten out inconsistencies or inaccuracies, either in what Malcolm says or in what others said about him.

The more I read it (and as I write this I'm not quite finished), the more I think Malcolm has been done deeply right by Perry. And how cool is this guy, that he puts a picture of Malcolm thumbing through a book on the very last page of the book, which thus becomes the first thing to greet you when you do the very same thing? Absolutely brilliant!
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