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Malcolm X: A Life Of Reinvention (2011)

by Manning Marable(Favorite Author)
4.19 of 5 Votes: 1
0670022209 (ISBN13: 9780670022205)
Viking Adult
review 1: Great, detailed and fascinating, Manning Marable's Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention is a book worthy of it's subject. In just over 400 pages, he strips away the myths and misconceptions of X's complex life and sorts through reams of information to try and illuminate the man and why he's still important nearly 50 years after his assassination.In looking at X's life, Marable leaves few stones unturned. He's researched everything from obscure newspapers to FBI files and spoken to everyone from Louis Farrakhan to a NYPD agent who listened in on X's wiretapped phone. It's as complete a picture of the man as we can likely hope for any time soon. And what a picture is it: Malcolm X leaps off the page here, someone who was continually re-inventing himself while still staying true ... moreto his core beliefs, someone who carefully created his own image for maximum impact but was labelled by the media, was a close reader of men, but unable to see how the people he trusted turned on him.Marable deconstructs X's famed Autobiography as a well-written book and a good memoir, but as one marred with inconsistencies and self-invention. He carefully explains X's criminal past, which was not as bad as the Autobiography claims, and tries to shine a light on the major players in those early years. When he gets to the Nation of Islam years, he's just as detailed: he lays bare a history of the group that points out it's many flaws while explaining it's strong appeal. And as the book builds towards X's final reinventions, trips to Mecca and frantic rush towards death, he builds up the tension like a novelist, introducing a wide cast of characters and multiple storylines all of which converge in a Harlem ballroom in February 1965.There's few drawbacks to this biography. Marable spoke to a range of opposed sources, most of whom have conflicting ideas on X's life and ideas. Marable remains detached from their attitudes, but sometimes cuts through with his interpretation. This often leads to supposition on his part, ranging from who was involved in the assassination to who was a FBI informant to what X would be preaching today, but his ideas follow the same logic as the ample evidence from the last years of X's life. And more importantly, Marable never ignores X's flaws: his occasional anti-Semitism, a less-than-supportive relationship with his wife, etc.My one big drawback is actually the Autobiography itself. Marable often refers to it and it's inconsistencies with X's life, but I wished he delved more into it's relationship with X's ongoing legacy and how Alex Haley became the primary shaper of how most people perceive X. But that's a minor gripe (and probably something most readers won't care much about). On the whole, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention is a remarkable biography, one that's both as detailed as you could want while being a fluid and engrossing read. Recommended!
review 2: the real story of Malcolm X's life and assassination. Missing from the Haley account is the real story of Malcolm X's conversion to "traditional" Islam and his rejection of the teachings of the Nation Of Islam, of which he was the 2nd ranking minister in the US. Malcolm X rejected important NOI teachings, including that Louis Fard, an African-American who died shortly before the founding of the NOI, was in fact God; and that NOI founder Elijah Muhammed was the final prophet of God (contradicting Islamic teaching that the "original Mohammed" was the final prophet). The NOI then "expelled" Malcolm X, and he was replaced by Louis Farrakhan. By rejecting NOI doctrine, it appears Malcolm X signed his own death warrant, and the assassination attempts began.I was enlighten to word the story in life of malcolm x less
Reviews (see all)
The author begins with a long-winded account of the assassination of Malcolm X, and then begins to tell his life story, starting from Malcolm's grandparents.The book is highly detailed, but interrupted by the author's opinions and editorials, and excessively detailed and repetitive.I had been listening for a week to this audiobook and Malcolm X had only reached age 18. At this point, he is a career criminal. I tired of listening to the long-windiness of the account and returned this book to the library.
I happened to just pick this up in an airport bookstore on my way back to London at the beginning of this year and ended up devouring it. It paints a fantastic historical picture of the civil rights movement as well as of the conditions in the US that produced a man like Malcom X and a movement like the nation of Islam. If you are at all interested in either the person or the period I strongly recommend this book as a place to start!
Great work done to try to explain one of the most enigmatic personalities of our times.
*Read for school
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