The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 1992
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“Extraordinary . . . a brilliant, painful, important book.”—The New York Times
“A great book . . . Its dead level honesty, its passion, its exalted purpose, will make it stand as a monument to the most painful truth.”—The Nation
“The most important book I’ll ever read, it changed the way I thought, it changed the way I acted. It has given me courage I didn’t know I had inside me. I’m one of hundreds of thousands whose lives were changed for the better.”—Spike Lee
“This book will have a permanent place in the literature of the Afro-American struggle.”—I. F. Stone
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So I took it upon myself to read his story for myself. His story stuck with me through the years, always one of my favorite reads. I could never convince others to try it, it was then and still is that controversial. Fifty years later...I bought a copy to re-read his story ( with hindsight as judge). I still feel glad that I chose to read this then and again now. This story is still relevent today. I highly recommend that everyone should read this book, at any age!
Malcolm X and his involvement with the Nation of Islam was just a step in his life. He realized the need for a non-religious organization for black people to transcend their current conditions. As for Islam, Malcolm X's pilgrimage to Mecca and his account has developed, for me, personal interest in the religion of Islam.
It's unfortunate that Malcolm's life was taken by ignorance. He was wise and not afraid to admit his faults. He was for the truth no matter what. El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz is currently the only renown person I wish I could accompany.
Top international reviews
I am now checking Malcolm on you tube, What a brilliant and calm man talks nothing but sense.
He could have been mayor of New York and President, unfortunately America is so warped and the populace so controlled.
I wish he could have left NY and stepped back for a while.
They say the truth shall set you free, the truth got Malcolm X free from the hypocrisy of the nation of Islam, SPEAKING that truth is what got him killed.
This book is brilliant, a must read.
His journey from a (relatively) happy childhood through turbulent adolescence into a man of history is compelling. We learn of the terrible traumas that shaped his life including the break-up of his family following the racist murder of his father and the subsequent (state induced) breakdown of his mother and the belittling career advice he received at school. We follow him through his teen years as a fast living zoot suited novice gangster with his hair suitably “conked” that leads inevitability to jail where he encounters Elijah Muhammad and converts to Islam.
His journey in Islam is fascinating; first he is obsessed with Elijah Mohammed’s teachings which he sees as capturing the struggle of the black man in white supremacist 1950s America then, as his relationship with Elijah deteriorates, he has a further development in his thinking while on the Hajj to Mecca where he experiences people sharing a common cause (Islam) regardless of the colour of the skin.
It’s a shame the book is not particularly well written. I think Haley let down Malcolm X by not using his skills as an author (evident, of course, in Roots) to provide better focus to what Malcolm X is looking to say. What we get instead, particularly in the polemic sections of the book that dominate the second part of the autobiography, is writing that comes across as streams of consciousness. As such it is, at times, repetitive, lacking in clarity and somewhat stodgy to read. You can imagine Malcolm X, in his interviews with Hayley that form the basis of this book, letting rip. That, of itself, is interesting. But it doesn’t make the best reading!
Overall though, I’d put this in the a list of “must read” books for its insight into an important (and fascinating) person at a pivotal time in 20th century American history.
I knew little or nothing about this great and exceptional being before I read his autobiography. The little I knew about him was that he was very “controversial”. Then again, an Irish colleague of mine once told me a couple of years ago that I looked like Malcom X in my glasses. In order not to appear naive, I just laughed, and then made it a point of duty to research on the man - Malcom X. I tell you what, I’m glad I did and now know the “TRUTH”.
The word “controversial” has always been used to describe individuals who do not conform to certain “standards”. But I always say this, so long what anyone does is within the ambits of the law, who cares? For me he wasn’t controversial, but just honest about his opinion. He voiced out what most people at the time and even now couldn’t and wouldn’t dare to say just to appear as being politically correct. I say this with every sense of responsibility: one of the greatest crime any individual could commit against themselves is self-deceit.
As a Christian first and foremost and a practicing Catholic, I kind of slightly differ on one particular issue he harped on in this book, which has to do with Christianity. Then again, you could argue that his views were influenced by the actions and deeds of those who practised the Christian faith.
Who knows what this guy could have achieved if only those threatened by his popularity and wisdom didn't cut short his life? But, I guess even though they get to spend a million years on planet earth, they will never and can never be as great as Malcom X. For you can only kill a person but not the words of his mouth nor his deeds. Which then leads me to ask the pertinent question, why don’t great men last? You talk about the likes of Robert Nesta Marley, Martin Luther King, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and the list goes on and on.
Just like many other great men who did suffer similar fate as him, his deeds, actions and words continue to loom larger and appear more relevant even to this day! He was indeed an embodiment of wisdom, tenacity, determination and conviction! Malcom X has left an indelible mark in the hearts and conscience of so many people – living and dead, his foes and friends, and people of all racial inclinations.
From his time in school when he was told he shouldn't dream of being a lawyer, to later in his life when he gave speeches at academic institutions such as Harvard Law school.
It also includes all the in-between such as his life as a dealer in Harlem his time in jail.
This book is a good read for those interested in the life of this individual or just to generally know what was happening in USA at that time.