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Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention Hardcover – April 4, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (April 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670022209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670022205
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 7.2 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #320,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

[A] groundbreaking piece of work. ...The result is not just a biography, but also a history of Muslims in America and a sweeping account of one man's transformation... It will be difficult for anyone to better this book. ... a work of art, a feast that combines genres skillfully: biography, true-crime, political commentary. It gives us Malcolm X in full gallop. -- Wil Haygood Washington Post [L]ucid, hugely researched and surely definitive...an extraordinary story. Sunday Times [A]n incredibly detailed account of Malcolm's life (and an investigation of his murder) and it is, of course, completely riveting...it is inevitably much more than a biography of one man... Marable is intensely and intimately sympathetic. -- Geoff Dyer New Yorker In the pantheon of black American protest figures only Martin Luther King occupies a more exalted position, but it is Malcolm X whose legend has the greater street credibility and aura of cool...Now, almost a half century [after his assassination], Malcolm has finally received the biography that his unique role in black culture demands...A meticulous, comprehensive, and fair-minded portrait. -- Andrew Anthony Observer Professor Manning Marable's Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention is encyclopaedic in its approach. The endnotes and bibliography indicate the staggering breadth and depth of scholarship underpinning this volume...Undoubtedly it will stand as a last lecture on the subject by one of America's most distinguished historians. -- Wilbert Rideau Financial Times [A] wealth of detail, some of it new, some of it old stories confirmed...At the end of it all, Malcolm X remains Malcolm X, for good or ill, one of the most fascinating historical figures of the 20th Century...a labour of love...a courageous endeavour. -- Hugh Muir Guardian Malcolm's short life (he was slain at 39) makes a fascinating story...Mr Marable has scoured contemporary press clippings in America, Europe and Africa...and benefitted...from the recent release to the public of hundreds of Malcolm's letters, photographs and texts of speeches. The Economist Marable gives us all the raw material for a harshly critical appraisal... Marable's is very far from the first biography of Malcolm, but it is undoubtedly the most penetrating and thoroughly researched. It clearly surpasses the best previous effort, Bruce Perry's 1991 study -- Stephen Howe The Independent By the end of the 1960s, Malcolm's disciples had elevated him to what Manning Marable, in this weighty biography, calls 'secular sainthood'; in death, his image was quickly refashioned to 'embody the very ideal of blackness for an entire generation'... But Marable... resists the temptation of hagiography and fills in the gaps left by previous books. Where the autobiography, carefully organised by the NOI-sceptic Haley, presents an idealised vision of a man's growth as a thinker, Marable gives us Malcolm in all his self-contradiction and self-doubt... By refusing to pin him down, he offers glimpses of the human being behind the legend. -- Yo Zushi New Statesman Striking... Marable is intensely sympathetic but always conscious of the contradictions of his subject...the fulfilment of a life's work -- Geoff Dyer, Books Of The Year Prospect From petty criminal to drug user to prisoner to minister to separatist to humanist to martyr. Marable, who worked for more than a decade on the book and died earlier this year, offers a more complete and unvarnished portrait of Malcolm X than the one found in his autobiography. The story remains inspiring -- 10 Best Books Of 2011 New York Times Selected by the New York Times as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2011 New York Times --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Manning Marable, Professor of History and director of the Institute for African-American Studies at Columbia University, has written features in the New York Times and the Nation. His books include Race, Reform, and Rebellion; Beyond Black and White; and Speaking Truth to Power. His public affairs commentary series, "Along the Color Line," is featured in more than 275 newspapers and is broadcast by eighty radio stations in the U.S. and internationally.

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Customer Reviews

It has been very difficult to put this book down.
Dreanchild
I never really read or knew much about Malcolm X so I found this book to be very interesting and informative.
Tor-dizzle
This wonderful book is a great tribute to both Malcolm X and Manning Marable.
New England Pat

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

120 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Martin Zook on April 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Whether you're just getting to know this giant and enigmatic figure of the civil rights "movement" - or in Malcolm's case revolution - or you were on the street in the day, Manning Marable's biography is worth your valuable time. In addition to being a wide and deep examination of how Malcolm Little became Malcolm X and how Malcom X became a universal advocate for the oppressed, especially of African heritage, Marable fills in gaps with his singular access to records and sources, as well as his sustained effort over a decade in producing this biography. But, perhaps most importantly, the voice that Malcolm X raised in defense of those being oppressed carries a message especially important in our time. We should listen.

Marable examines Malcolm's life from many angles, in many contexts, which are necessary given that he manifested himself in appearances that ranged from hustler and angry voice from the ghetto to social activist and pragmatist willing to work within the American "system." And this broad appeal largely defines Malcolm X's appeal according to Marable: "Malcolm's journey of reinvention was in many ways centered on his lifelong quest to discern the meaning and substance of faith. As a prisoner, he embraced an antiwhite quasi-Islamic sect that nevertheless validated his fragmented sense of humanity and ethnic identity. But as he traveled across the world...Malcolm came to adopt true Islam's universalism, and its belief that all could find Allah's grace regardless of race." (p.12)

To black audiences, "what made him truly original was that he presented himself as the embodiment of the two central figures of African-American folk culture, simultaneously the hustler/trickster and the preacher/minister...
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to preface this review with a little information about my own background. At one time my parents were members of the Nation of Islam. Their active involvement with the Nation had ceased by the time I was four or so, which was also around the time that my parents separated, so I have very little memory of any direct experience with the Nation's activities. Nevertheless, the Nation's teachings affected my life in subtle and profound ways. Although I didn't understand it at the time, my father's involvement with the Nation was one of several factors that contributed to the deep tension between him and my grandmother, who is a staunch Baptist. Oftentimes, perhaps most of the time, that tension was palpable, as my grandmother lived with me and my father for a good portion of my childhood, and was deeply involved in my upbringing. His experience with the Nation also fueled his deep inner turmoil to a great extent, although I didn't understand that at the time either. It wasn't until I got older and began to study the history of the Nation of Islam that my father's paranoid ramblings about FBI bugs in our house and recordings of my mother's voice being played on television, which completely mystified me as child, were put into context. That history also helped me to make sense of the divergence between my mother's and my own views on race when I was an adolescent. Studying that history helped me to make sense of my upbringing and my place in a world in which I often felt, and at times still do feel, alienated and displaced. So naturally, as I grew up, I eagerly devoured whatever I was able to understand about the Nation. And most of what I learned was and is centered in the figure of Malcolm X. When Spike Lee's "X" was first released, I think I saw it at least three times in one week.Read more ›
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97 of 113 people found the following review helpful By roy castleberry on April 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Manning Marable's book, Malcolm X, A Life of Reinvention, is an informative if unexciting read that adds important details to the story of the still-fascinating African-American revolutionary. Having read the famous Autobiography several times, I was still unaware, for example, at how much Malcolm travelled overseas, as well as his impact on foreign audiences. (Unfortunately, Mr. Marable's book plods exasperatingly in those chapters, as he includes far too much trivia. If you must know when Malcolm had a sandwich in Sussex or met 3 students at a Liberian airport, Marable has those details.) Information about Malcolm's rocky relationship with his powerful sister Ella, his troubled marriage and further details about the split with the Nation of Islam illuminate both the private and public figure. And the information about previous back to Africa groups is fascinating, as are the sections on Marcus Garvey and the formative days of the Nation of Islam. Marable is also insightful--if scathing, writing about Malcolm's co-author, Alex Haley. Marable's portrayal of Haley is a brutal picture of the free lancer as a sycophantic hustler.
Where Marable's runs into trouble is in his constant editorializing (he takes every opportunity to show exactly how much he disapproves of his subject's politics) and with some rather questionable lapses in logic and fact-gathering. I, for one, would have liked more information about the formation of the Nation of Islam's religious enforcement squads, the funding for Malcolm's foreign trips after the split with the NOI and what Marable was able to glean from police and government surveillance files. Marable makes some strong charges against those he feels were involved in the assassination and the charges are not always backed up with factual detail.
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