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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The world may have been so much different, April 21, 2012
This review is from: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (Paperback)
Maybe all you know about Malcolm is that he was the urban, northern, militant version of Dr. King. You wouldn't be far off, but you'd be missing so much detail.

Maybe all you know about Malcolm is from Spike Lee's movie version, and Malcolm sounds like Denzel in your mind. You'd be off, and missing so much detail.

Maybe you've read the book. You know the one, the autobiography written by Alex Haley and spun by Malcolm. You're closer, but missing so much detail.

Marable is able to fill in some of the detail that is missing, and give the interested reader insight into Malcolm's history, his life, and his thought. There has been some controversy over this book, speculation of same-sex extracurricular activities on the part of Malcolm that do not fit the myth, and other things are brought in and narratives from the autobiography are debunked to give a much more humanized picture of Malcolm than you get from the autobiography.

Marable's greatest achievement is in tracing the evolution of Malcolm's thought back from Garvey through Elijah Muhammad into his becoming his own man and embracing orthodox Islam and turning his back on wholly separatist Black Nationalism. We were, as a society cut away from what Malcolm could have become, and the movements he could have led. This is the same as King, and we get half-baked sycophants in their places - Jackson and Farrakhan are but shades of the men they followed.

Where the book loses the thread is when it gets bogged down in speculation - the trial of Malcolm's assassins wasn't thorough, but Marable's court will never be enough. We have to be vigilant that a similar injustice won't repeat itself. The author also speculates on Malcolm's potential viewpoints on current events, 9/11 for example. We cannot be sure of even being right on what the 1965 Malcolm may have thought. It is impossible to know what the 2001 Malcolm would have thought, because he would have experienced so much more, and the world may have been so much different.
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