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The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley Paperback – October 12, 1987


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The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley + The Souls of Black Folk (Dover Thrift Editions) + Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey (Dover Thrift Editions)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 460 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reissue edition (October 12, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345350685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345350688
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (539 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Malcolm X's searing memoir belongs on the small shelf of great autobiographies. The reasons are many: the blistering honesty with which he recounts his transformation from a bitter, self-destructive petty criminal into an articulate political activist, the continued relevance of his militant analysis of white racism, and his emphasis on self-respect and self-help for African Americans. And there's the vividness with which he depicts black popular culture--try as he might to criticize those lindy hops at Boston's Roseland dance hall from the perspective of his Muslim faith, he can't help but make them sound pretty wonderful. These are but a few examples. The Autobiography of Malcolm X limns an archetypal journey from ignorance and despair to knowledge and spiritual awakening. When Malcolm tells coauthor Alex Haley, "People don't realize how a man's whole life can be changed by one book," he voices the central belief underpinning every attempt to set down a personal story as an example for others. Although many believe his ethic was directly opposed to Martin Luther King Jr.'s during the civil rights struggle of the '60s, the two were not so different. Malcolm may have displayed a most un-Christian distaste for loving his enemies, but he understood with King that love of God and love of self are the necessary first steps on the road to freedom. --Wendy Smith

Review

Biography, published in 1965, of the American black militant religious leader and activist who was born Malcolm Little. Written by Alex Haley, who had conducted extensive audiotaped interviews with Malcolm X just before his assassination in 1965, the book gained renown as a classic work on black American experience. The Autobiography recounts the life of Malcolm X from his traumatic childhood plagued by racism to his years as a drug dealer and pimp, his conversion to the Black Muslim sect (Nation of Islam) while in prison for burglary, his subsequent years of militant activism, and the turn late in his life to more orthodox Islam. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

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Customer Reviews

A book that will forever change my life.
Ralph C Sims
The life of an amazing man, The Autobiography of Malcolm X is an amazing glace at the life of a civil rights revolutionary.
J. Swank
I read this book for the first time a year ago and I have to say that it was one of the best reads I have ever had.
Hermes Rex

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

137 of 145 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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54 of 56 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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67 of 73 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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