- Hardcover: 608 pages
- Publisher: Viking; First Printing 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: 2.1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 242 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #573,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention Hardcover – April 4, 2011
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“Malcolm X is etched in the American imagination—and the American psyche—in the particular and unyielding terms of radical and militant… Marable brings a lifetime of study to this biography, which is the crowning achievement of a magnificent career.” — Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
“Manning Marable is the exemplary black scholar of radical democracy and black freedom in our time. His long-awaited magisterial book on Malcolm X is the definitive treatment of the greatest black radical voice and figure of the mid-twentieth century. Glory Hallelujah!” — Cornel West, Princeton University
“Manning Marable’s Malcolm X is his magnum opus, a work of extraordinary rigor and intellectual beauty … This majestic and eloquent tour de force will stand for some time as the definitive work on as enigmatic and electrifying a leader as has ever sprung from American soil.” — Michael Eric Dyson, Georgetown University, author of April 4, 1968
“It will be difficult for anyone to better this book... It is a work of art, a feast that combines genres skillfully: biography, true-crime, political commentary. It gives us Malcolm X in full gallop, a man who died for his belief in freedom.” — The Washington Post
“In his revealing and prodigiously researched new biography. . . Mr. Marable artfully strips away the layers and layers of myth that have been lacquered onto his subject’s life — first by Malcolm himself in that famous memoir, and later by both supporters and opponents after his assassination.” — Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Unlike Bruce Perry’s 1991 biography, Malcolm, which entertained the most outlandish stories in an attempt to present a comprehensive portrait, Marable’s biography judiciously sifts fact from myth.” — The Atlantic
“Magisterial…Marable’s biography is an exceedingly brave as well as a major intellectual accomplishment.” — Boston Globe
“Marable has crafted an extraordinary portrait of a man and his time…A masterpiece.” — San Francisco Chronicle
“This book is a must read.” — Ebony
“Thankfully, we have Manning Marable's new biography, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention — which is, simply put, a stunning achievement — to help us better understand Malcolm’s complex life.” — The Philadelphia Tribune
“The book also has much to recommend it for its history of orthodox Islam, the perspective it offers on the black political movements of the 1950s and 1960s that changed America, and its insights into the development and inner workings of the Nation of Islam.” — The Financial Times
“Manning Marable’s scholarship was as provocative and profound as it was prodigious.” — Newsday
“[Marable] devoted his magnificent career—more than most scholars do—to living what he wrote and what he thought. His commitment not only to equality of opportunity but also to the exposure of falsehood and hypocrisy was a hallmark of his pathbreaking work.” — The Chronicle of Higher Education
“Marable accomplishes the difficult task of showing the bad boy of the civil rights era as an actual human being . . . Each page almost secretes the formidable research into hard facts. Marable lets the chips fall where they may because he is interested in the humanity of Malcolm X, as all true scholars should be.” — New York Daily News
“This is history at its finest—written with passion and attention and drive. It is a fitting testament to the lives and the legacies of both subject and author.” — TheBarnesandNobleReview.com
“Marable’s definitive biography is now the standard by which scholars can evaluate, not just what Malcolm X said, but what generations of others have said about him.” — The National
“This book is not the only representation of Manning's brilliance… it is a culmination of a lifetime of scholarship and activism, a larger project devoted to telling the stories of a people engaged in an epic, painful and beautiful struggle for freedom.” — BlackVoices.com
“This superbly perceptive and resolutely honest book will long endure as a definitive treatment of Malcolm’s life, if not of the actors complicit in his death.” — The Wilson Quarterly
“The book is cause for celebration . . . The book is full of revelations, big and small, and amounts to a full-on reconsideration of Malcolm’s life and death.” — VeryShortList.com
“As Malcolm lived on through his best-selling autobiography, so will Marable, through his unmatched body of writing, his educational contributions, his illuminations on Malcolm X's legacy and his devoted students.” — CNN.Com
“Manning was an unflinching and breathtakingly prolific scholar whose commitments to racial, economic, gender, and international justice were unparalleled . . . That we will have his long-anticipated, great and final work even as he leaves us is so classically, tragically appropriate.” — The Nation
“While Marable himself is irreplaceable, he has provided a foundation for future generations and will continue to shape our understanding of social change and justice.” — TheRoot.com
“A prolific scholar.” — The Columbia Record
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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Top customer reviews
This book takes a charismatic myth and gives him flesh and blood. The outside forces and a heritage of abuse created a man ready at a time when he was needed. If you want to understand a man shaped by his times, that did much to shape our times, this is a must read. It is well written and a trip most WASP's will finally come to understand had to happen.
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...the trickster is unpredictable and capable of outrageous transgressions; the minister saves souls, redeems shattered lives, and promises a new world." I might add that I suspect this appeal is not limited to just black audiences.
This journey involves doing time for small time crime, developing his thoughts and voice while incarcerated, taking Elijah Muhammad as a mentor, but perhaps the greatest advancement came as a result of Malcolm's haj, after which his thinking and voice, while still strongly advocating for the oppressed, became more inclusive and more compassionate. As noted in at least one other review here, Marable's work is distinguished for understanding how the experience of the haj profoundly advanced Malcolm's thinking and his voice. It may not be too strong to say that this experience liberated him.
Marable's book also stands out for filling in gaps around Malcolm's assassination. Complicity on the part of federal and state authorities, as well as the Nation of Islam, from which Malcolm broke about a year before his death, is indicated. Ultimately, though, a conclusive picture can not be drawn from the records to which he had access.
An especially valuable context is Marable's view of Malcolm in a larger context that includes Martin Luther King. "one great gift of such remarkable individuals is the ability to seize their time, to speak to their unique moment in history. Both Martin and Malcolm were such leaders, but they expressed their pragmatic visions in different ways. King embodied the historic struggles waged by generations of African Americans for full equality...King never pitted blacks against whites, or used the atrocities committed by white extremists as a justification for condemning all whites. By contrast, throughout most of his public career Malcolm sought to place whites on the defensive in their relationship with African Americans...His constant message was black pride, self-respect, and an awareness of one's heritage."
Malcolm's influence over Eldridge Cleaver and Black Power advocates was obvious. And while it scared the hell out of many, Marable presents Malcolm as an important voice in the chorus against racial oppression. Advocating force on behalf of those slammed away in ghettos has its place.
Malcolm's voice, according to the actor Ossie Davis and quoted by Marable, was that of a "black shining prince," in his eulogy. Prince, because Malcolm's assassination did not allow him to achieve the maturity of becoming a king. Following his death, Malcolm "was pilloried and sterotyped for his racial extremism," especially in the white community. In the black community, Malcolm, in death, was seen as "an icon of black encouragement, who fearlessly challenged racism wherever he found it."
Marable notes that "Malcolm's revolutionary vision also challenged white America to think and talk differently about race...Malcolm challenged whites to examine the policies and practices of racial discrimination."
Beyond being a wonderful biography, I hope that Marable's effort here acts to amplify Malcolm's voice to make aware those too young to remember Malcolm, to reaffirm those who sympathized with his struggle, and to expand the understanding of those who were with Malcolm in the day.
Every once in a while in this thing called Life, I come across a perfect book that accomplishes what it intended. This book by Manning Marable IS NOT that book. The book “A Lie Of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable's Malcolm X” by Mr. Jared A. Ball and Mr. Todd Steven Burroughs IS that book. It is the perfect critique of Manning Marable's biography of Malcolm X. I had read Manning Marable's book about Malcolm, but I had not "seen" a number of things that Ball's and Burrough's book makes perfectly clear. I mean perfectly. In doing so, I feel an incredibly sad feeling for the legacy of Manning Marable, mainly because I am now quite perspicacious in seeing how he used his previous reputation as a legitimate, Black-conscious scholar to be an imprimatur to libel and de-radicalize the whole legacy of Malcolm X. That's truly how I feel. Marable goes about reinventing the defacto Malcolm, reconstructing and refashioning the actual Malcolm with words, so that by the end of the book, he has subtly weaved a web whereby Malcolm's and Marable's politics are fairly synonymous. In doing this, Marable is hinting that Marable is just as great as Malcolm X!!! He has nuanced and manipulated the language, fashioning Malcolm in such a way that now elevates Marable's international and political outlook to be one with that of Malcolm X, an act of usurping the Black-masses-generated-global respect garnered by Malcolm, and foisting it onto himself, Manning Marable. In understanding this phenomenon, one becomes sick on the stomach. What a hilarious joke! For example, Malcolm X died as a firm adherent of the African-American right to self defense, making sure to incorporate this right into his Organization Of African-American Unity's statement of its basic aims. Marable uses NO WORDS in his book discussing this phenomenon. Why? My guess is that Marable did not discuss Malcolm's self defense stance because it does no jive with Marable's pacifism. In jostling, shifting, and refashioning Malcolm's outlook, and then going on to equate Malcolm's worldview with his own, Marable's arrogance is galling! Galling! And, in doing all of this, using his reputation, combining sophistry and non-rational conclusions, it is the lowest form of betrayal of truth that I've read. There is some good information in Marable's book. There is. But, that information is overshadowed by his betrayal to the truth. I want to give tremendous thanks to the authors in Ball's and Burrough's volume for helping me, a 34 year student of Malcolm X, to see these things clearly. One of the things I am now more certain of, than ever before, is the fact that "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," whatever its real blemishes (and there are some!), will ALWAYS be the most genuine and legitimate go-to book on the life of Malcolm X. In addition, Marable touts his book as a comprehensive biography, yet though Betty Shabazz, Macolm's widow, and all 6 children of Malcolm and Betty were still alive, he did not interview NARY A ONE OF THEM as part of his research!! Marable did not interview any of Malcolm's immediate family, and nearly all of them were within a 50 mile radius of him for long stretches of time during his “research.” Perhaps, Marable needed to go look up the word “comprehensive” in Webster's dictionary, since his elementary oversight in NOT interviewing Malcolm's immediate family for this work, mocks the idea of it being “comprehensive.”And, behind all of Marable's written slander, I have a hunch. I openly declare it as a “hunch,” which means that it is my deeply-felt intuition. My hunch is that Marable has slandered Malcolm to exalt his own reputation in the academic World, mainly the larger, White mainstream World of academia. He wants that White World to exalt him,to glorify his scholarly name, to a place of scholarly brilliance, and in this effort, he is willing to sacrifice Malcolm X's integrity, reputation and legacy. Ultimately, he is implying that he is “interpreting” Malcolm for that White Academic World, and to my mind, is trying to symbolically kiss the collective arse of that larger White academic sphere. That is why I am calling his book the lowest form of scholarly treason. The lowest form. Marable has made Malcolm X palatable to the White mainstream, when the actual, in-the-flesh-breathing Malcolm X was innately counter to it. To disregard any respect for a major Historical figure like Malcolm X, only to nefariously push one's selfish, rapacious agenda by artificially (through lies) bloating one's academic reputation? You raise yourself up with lies, by demeaning another? It is an act so low, morally, that I am speechless. Many of the authors of Ball's and Burrough's book, even while being critical of Marable, have peppered their remarks with some restraint, hinting that they want to respect Marable, because he is dead. But, to this, I say that Manning Marable absolutely had no problem using all kind of unprovable and non-facts (figments), to take a nice healthy symbolic defecation on the integrity, legacy and reputation of a dead Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. Malcolm X is the only Historical figure that I revere like a second father. And I will not sit here and watch Manning Marable, nor anyone else, through a bunch of lies, manipulations and undocumentable things, accuse Malcolm and his wife Betty of infidelity, while also accusing Malcolm of homosexual activity. I will not allow him to accuse Malcolm of having had sex with a man, with no kind of proof whatsoever. I just won't do it, because there is nothing factual that will support these assertions. There IS NOT one factual, solid, information-based, substantive footnote in Marable's entire book, to account for his allegations of infidelity on Malcolm and Betty's part, and sexual activity between Malcolm and a man. NOT ONE! All we get is a bunch of "might haves" “should haves” and “could haves”, basically, total conjecture. Guessing is antithetical to any serious scholarly work, no matter how brilliant Marable may have considered himself to be. Malcolm X, to my mind, is the greatest Black man to walk the face of planet Earth, and I will factually defend his authentic and genuine record until the day I die. I will open-mindedly listen to anyone who has facts, but I will not entertain crap. F-A-C-T-S! Some of Marable's most significant assertions in this book amount to crap. That's how I see it. The lack of documented footnotes about these things in Marable's book is proof of what I am saying.