The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

4.5 141
by Malcolm X

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With its first great victory in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954, the Civil Rights movement gained the powerful momentum it needed to sweep forward into its crucial decade, the 1960s. As voices of protest and change rose above the din of history and false promises, one sounded more urgently, more passionately than the rest.…  See more details below


With its first great victory in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954, the Civil Rights movement gained the powerful momentum it needed to sweep forward into its crucial decade, the 1960s. As voices of protest and change rose above the din of history and false promises, one sounded more urgently, more passionately than the rest. Malcolm X - once called the most dangerous man in America - challenged the world to listen and learn the truth as he experienced it. And his enduring message is as relevant today as when he first delivered it. This is the first hardcover edition of this classic autobiography since it was originally published in 1964. In its searing pages, Malcolm X the Muslim leader, firebrand, and anti-integrationist, tells the extraordinary story of his life and the growth of the Black Muslim movement to veteran writer and journalist Alex Haley. In a unique collaboration, Alex Haley worked with Malcolm X for nearly two years, interviewing, listening to, and understanding the most controversial leader of his time. Raised in Lansing, Michigan, Malcolm Little's road to world fame was as astonishing as it was unpredictable. After drifting from childhood poverty to petty crime, Malcolm found himself in jail. It was there that he came into contact with the teachings of a little-known Black Muslim leader named Elijah Muhammed. The newly renamed Malcolm X devoted himself body and soul to the teachings of Elijah Muhammed and the world of Islam, and became the Nation's foremost spokesman. When his own conscience forced him to break with Elijah Muhammed, Malcolm founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity, to reach African Americans across the country with an inspiring message of pride, power, and self-determination. The Autobiography of Malcolm X defines American culture and the African-American struggle for social and economic equality that has now become a battle for survival. His fascinating perspective on the lies and

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
While critics still debate the role Alex Haley played in the writing of this 1965 book, its importance is irrefutable. With Haley’s assistance, Malcolm X described a world of broken promises, injustice, and hatred from which he wanted his race to escape. Many social reformers and militants have been inspired by this dramatic story. (LJ 6/15/90)

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The absorbing personal story of the man who rose from a life of poverty and disadvantage to become the most dynamic leader of the Black Revolution, only to have his life cut short by an assassin's bullets.
Sacred Fire
The Autobiography of Malcolm X is the story of one of the remarkable lives of the twentieth century. Malcolm X, as presented in this as-told-to autobiography, is a figure of almost mythic proportions; a man who sunk to the greatest depths of depravity and rose to become a man whose life's mission was to lead his people to freedom and strength. It provides a searing depiction of the deeply rooted issues of race and class in America and remains relevant and inspiring today. Malcolm X's story would inspire Alex Haley to write Roots, a novel that would, in turn, define the saga of a people.

Malcolm Little was born in Nebraska in 1925, the seventh child of Reverend Earl Little, a Baptist minister, and Louise Little, a mulatto born in Grenada to a black mother and a white father. Malcolm X quickly grew to hate the society he'd grown up in. After his father was killed, his mother was unfairly denied insurance coverage and his family fell apart. Young Malcolm went from a foster home to a reformatory, to shining shoes in the speakeasies and dance halls of Boston. After getting work as a Pullman porter, he went to New York and fell in love with Harlem. His stint as a drug dealer and petty crook landed him in jail, where he became a devout student of the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad. That was when he figured out that "he could beat the white man better with his mind than he ever could with a club." Malcolm X's subsequent quest for knowledge and equality for blacks led to his unreserved commitment to the liberation of blacks in American society.

What makes this book extraordinary is the honesty with which Malcolm presents his life: Even as he regrets the mistakes he made as a young man, he brings his zoot-suited, swing-dancing, conk- haired Harlem youth to vivid life; even though he later turns away from the Nation of Islam, the strong faith he at one time in that sect's beliefs, a faith that redeemed him from prison and a life of crime, comes through. What made the man so extraordinary was his courageous insistence on finding the true path to his personal salvation and to the salvation of the people he loved, even when to stay on that path meant danger, alienation, and death.

Robert Bone
A movement might emerge shorn of racism, seperatism, and blind hate which yet preserved the explosive force and liberating energy of the Muslim myth. This is the direction in which Malcolm X was moving for a year or more before his death. The essense of the this shift was psychological. It had nothing to do with black supremacy, but much to do with manhood and self-reliance. -- Books of the Century; New York Times review, September 1966
From the Publisher
“Malcolm X’s autobiography seemed to offer something different. His repeated acts of self-creation spoke to me; the blunt poetry of his words, his unadorned insistence on respect, promised a new and uncompromising order, martial in its discipline, forged through sheer force of will.”—Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father

“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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Random House Publishing Group
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5.20(w) x 10.60(h) x 0.88(d)

What People are saying about this

I.F. Stone
This book will have a permanent place in the literature of the Afro-American struggle.
Spike Lee
The most important book I'll ever read. It changed the way I felt; it changed the way I acted. It has given me courage that I didn't know I had inside me. I'm one of hundreds of thousands whose life has changed for the better.

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X 4.5 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 141 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a high school sophomore that had a research project for my english class. I personally chose Malcolm X because I have always wanted to learn about him and how inspiring he is for people of color that want to stand up for themselves from racism. I thought this book was very helpful with the questions that I had to answer and it was very well written. It told me about his whole life and how he began to become the way he ended up. It talks about from him growing up from an innocent young man living in Lansing, Michigan with a widowed mother, to dropping out of school and hustling on the streets of Chicago and Harlem, then to jail realizing his fate with the  Nation of Islam, and finally to a new leader for the African American race.This book helped me open my eyes on how African Americans  feel/felt and how badly they were treated by white people but they still looked up to them. Since I am part black, this book made me have  some thoughts that I have never had before about his beliefs. More than just a couple of times I agreed with him because I still see the  issues he talks about when some white people are still thinking they're superior to people of color. It has made a huge impact on me because it changed the way I think and the way I act. I very much recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning the true feelings and thoughts of Malcolm X.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Show me a book that should be required reading for every student and I will show you a copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Born in Omaha, Nebraska (a city not really known for its African American culture) Malcolm Little and his family were forced to leave after a confrontation with the KKK. As a young man barely able to read or write, Malcolm becomes a theif, a hustler and eventually a prisoner. While in prison he becomes mesmerized by the teachings of a man called Elijah Mohammed, head of the Nation of Islam, a religious sect of Islam that caters to the plight of African Americans during the mid 20th Century. After reading his way through what was effectively a Ph.D in prison, Malcolm becomes the number two man in the Nation of Islam and the most rhetorical voice of social change in America- an honor that would cause him to be demonized by Whites and Blacks alike. Published posthumously,(Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965 by members of the Nation of Islam who most likely cohorts of the FBI) this book is definitive work on race realtions without it being a text book per se. It also inspired the author, Alex Haley, to write his most famous novel Roots.
Cush More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book of any genre, both fiction and nonfiction. It is the greatest piece of literature of the 20th Century. It is the greatest piece of African American literature of all time. It gives you a different perspective on politics, crime, religion and history. This is not a piece to which one has to agree. As a matter of fact, it is not a piece by which one has to abide by the standards therein. Rather, this is a work of art that compels to reader to indulge in the lost art of thinking. READ THIS BOOK!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a sophomore in high school who was required to read a book for my research project. I chose Malcolm X as the person I wanted to to do my research project on. This book was extremely helpful and it was the only  resource I needed. The book gave an insight on Malcolm X's whole entire life from  start to finish. As a reader I got to know who he really was from his own personal opinions,actions,and thoughts. I learned  about  what he  was like as a seventh grade student at school and what he was like as one of the leaders of The Nation of Islam. If I didn't read this I don't  think I could fully understand Malcolm's choices. His life was so entertaining from beginning to end, that I didn't find a dull moment while reading. To me Malcolm provide to be s very powerful  man. All the things he did and the time he sacrificed was to help others, and his family. None of his actions were selfish and were all to protect and support his rights and the rights of others.This book changed my view on racism and the way I look at people. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in Malcolm X or just want a good read. 
gragonfly More than 1 year ago
...malcom x made a reversal that brought tension into the movement ( nation od islam)...his leader ( elijah. muhammed) felt discomfort / fear that malcolm was going to expose his lessons...almost all of the memebers of the NOI hated malcolm -- why such fear / hate, when IN REALITY, malcolm was only expressing his mind ? it's clear that elijah helped's just an clear ( clearer) that his perception changed ( * the student become clever then the teacher - nothing wrong with that. BUT, whenever the teacher(s) feel discomfort ( by an astute student / sharp reasoning / clever questions etc. u know the type)), one knows that something is WRONG ( * the teacher is hidding something ?)...long story short : malcolm saw what many of the NOI failed to see --- extreme afrocentrism / blacksupremacy ( in essence like the ahyan race)...this book serves well for anyone that's interesting in the careen theories of the NOI. why / how malcolm saw its clear flaws / the trickery of incongruous "leaders" using scipture to further beguile distressed minds...a lucid / heavy read.
LennonFan More than 1 year ago
This book is sure to have a tremendous impact on you.

Growing up in NYC in the 70's, I can remember seeing the so-called "Black Muslims" all over downtown Brooklyn and upper Manhattan. Sometimes they would scare me because they were so militant and angry. But after talking to schoolmates who grew up in that religion, I came to realize why they were so angry. Malcolm X was a fixture of New York culture and yet I had never read his book--until now.

His message of self-sufficiency and pride was timely. The black community needed to hear Malcolm X even if they weren't ready for his message. He articulated frustration without compromise. The best part of the book for me was when he went to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage and learned what he called "True Islam." This helped him to widen his perspective and abandon his "reverse racism."

The book is profound and you will be completely absorbed when you read it whether or not you agree with his philosophies. I shuddered at his "White Devil" rhetoric, but I understood where he was coming from. His was a legacy of oppression and self-loathing resulting from generations of racism. It made me sad that he was killed before he was able to integrate his broader version of the Islam faith with his more tolerant views of human rights.

I couldn't sleep after finishing it. It was that profound.
Anonymous 25 days ago
Sits down
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a sophomore in high school. I really liked The Autobiography of Malcom X. I think that it tells a great and very well detailed story of his life. There were many parts of the book that I found very interesting. Some parts that I especially liked was when Malcolm lived in New York, when he was getting hired for new jobs, and when he was selling and doing drugs. I think I was more interested in those parts because there was more action. I understood more of what was happening during those times. Another thing I found interesting was the time he spent with Elijah Muhammad. Another thing I liked about the book was that I knew exactly how Malcolm felt during some moments, just based on the words I was reading. There were also many things that I didn’t like about the book. First, it is a very long book and it took me longer than I thought to finish the entire thing. Second, there were many parts of the book where it got too much into detail. There was a substantial amount of information, which, I felt, was unnecessary for me to read. While reading those parts, I found that I was extremely bored and interested. Third, there were a lot of words in slang that I did not understand. Therefore, the book was sometimes confusing. Overall, even though the book was very long, went too much into detail, had a lot of information, and even though it was sometimes confusing and hard to understand, I still liked the book. It taught me many things about segregation, discrimination, respect, and manners. I would probably recommend this book to someone who enjoys reading long books. I think that they will find it just as interesting as I did, and I think that they could probably learn more than I did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I chose to read this book in high school (roughly 10 years ago), and it remains one of my favorites. I strongly believe that this should be required reading for all youths, as Malcolm X is an inspiring figure in, not only black history, but American history. His story deserves to be heard and respected.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a high school sophomore and I chose to read this book for my research project. Going into this research project I knew noting about Malcolm X, and by the time I was done with the book it gave me all of the information I needed for my project. The book begins with an incident before Malcolm was born involving his family and the KKK and the book ends after he was assassinated. It discusses his troubles growing up in Lansing, Michigan, getting sentenced to 10 years in a state prison, to lastly becoming a nationwide leader for all African Americans. I never knew exact details of what the Blacks had to go through, but this book gives very descriptive thigns thst they went through. It made me realize how much society has changed. Though this book gives plenty of details, I wish it would be a little shorter. But I somehow found a way to enjoy this book because it was so interesting in every way. Malcolm's biography helped me answer most of my research questions without having to look them up on the internet. I highly recommend this book if you need information about Malcolm X or if you just want an interesting and life changing read
JRich88 More than 1 year ago
I have always adimired Malcolm's ability to have people support his cause. I really did not know the story about what shaped his life. The history, and events of his life, and how they are indirectly tied to history are remarkable. As for a man of principal, he had a good message after seeing thru Elijah Mohammmad. I think his growth as a person, and life experiance would have made him a better leader, had his life not been cut short. I recommend this book strongly to anyone that believes in something to stand for. And Malcolm is prove about the power of an individual who believes his cause, there isn't anything that can be accomplished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
FelixH1229 More than 1 year ago
This is by far one of the best books I've ever read . At first i was just doing it because it was a project but over time the book really just kept pulling and grabbing my attention. You can really feel the trials and tribulations that Malcolm X had set against him , but he stepped up to the plate and handled things like a man. After reading this book i really see the world with a different set of eyes. Everyone after the age of 10 should read this book.
DWeaver1 More than 1 year ago
The book was phenomenal. Malcolm X and Alex Haley did a phenominal job and you could tell Malcolm X wanted the world to know who he really was and not just the violence advocator he presumed to be by the media. This novel will challenge you in many ways and you will be left looking at the world very differently. I would recommend this book to every American.
Ali-Micelli More than 1 year ago
It's amazing how little I knew and how much I thought I knew about the man behind the quotable speeches. This book truly opened my eyes to the world he lived in and I grew to admire his bravery and wisdom. People often view him as the man who was full of anger, but when you read this book you see why. He evolved through the pages as a man who was willing to accept his mistakes and grow. He never did get to go to college like he wanted, but he was far before his time or like his daughter said "We were just late."
JohnEng More than 1 year ago
A book that will forever change my views on life. The autobiography of Malcom X took me into a world that I had never known, only heard about. It captured the racial tensions and militant nature of the black Muslim movement in a very real way that someone merely telling you could never hope to accomplish. This is a must read for people of all different races and religions as it will broaden your view of the world, and let you see through the eyes of a very controversial man. His story is that of redemption, reaching out and touching me. There are parts that jolted me as a reader, and that I had very strong disagreements to, but the read was so real and worth it. All in all a milestone read I would recommend to any one looking to have their life changed.
Melody1 More than 1 year ago
Is this how it should feel? The Autobiography of Malcolm X was completely inspiring. As the story start off there is a definite understanding of the terror Malcolm was introduced to since he was in his mother’s womb. From visits from the Klu Klux Klan, his father dying, his mother being put into a mental hospital and turning into a hustler, his life starts to spin out of control. Racism is a huge factor in this book, it pretty much weaves itself all throughout the autobiography. The message to this theme would be pin pointed to the malicious decisions that were made during Malcolm’s life time. Another theme would be the effects of the choices you made, this serves a roll from being an innocent child to growing up and becoming a hustler/ burglar. Societal views are also a major theme, with how Malcolm starts to perceive his live and how “blacks” should act and therefore become. I liked this book because it enlightened me about what actually happened to some if not most black families. I also liked it because it was real- it really happened, it was all facts and you didn’t have to question if it really happened or not. I also liked this book because Malcolm was not perfect and he so vividly describe what happened, you almost felt as if you were a part of his story. I had no real dislikes to this book, except that it used lots of slang words I had no idea what they meant. It would have been nice if there was a dictionary in the back of the book. I think this book is meant for certain people – if you’re not interested in discrimination, hurt, and hustling you probable shouldn’t read this book. Although it is long it is a powerful read. It gives you the opportunity to see in to his memory and “be him” for a little bit. I would rate this about a 4 its not something I would have picked up to read if I wasn’t required but I’m glad I did. The first chapter was so real and capturing you just had to go on. It had me realize just how brutal it must have been to be black in that era of time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Autobiography of Malcolm X (466 pgs.) is amazing. This book gave us, the reader, a look through his eyes and what he went through when he was a child and as he grew up. I couldn't put this book down. I admire how strong he stayed throughout what he went through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book really changed my life, it helped to to redefine my path and redirect my future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The idea of reading an autobiography of Malcolm X would probably never have crossed my mind, but with nothing to read on my vacation at a campground and most of the books on the rec-hall shelf being silly romance novels, this was the only thing that looked interesting. What a stroke of luck that turned out to be! Malcolm X was assasinated when I was too young to remember and what I knew about his life was very general. This book gives the reader an in depth picture of his life and particularly what shaped his views from a very young child. Though I don't agree with everything he believed in, I could understand why he felt the way he did about many things and came to have a better understanding about what it must have been like to live during his time. The only thing I never understood was his very misogynistic viewpoints. I would think he would have more empathy for women, especially black women, after what he had been through. However,he changed his mind about many things during his life, and I can't help but wonder if he had lived, if his views toward women would have mellowed some as well. This book is well worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago