Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

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Overview

Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year

Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist.

Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his ...

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Overview

Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year

Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist.

Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.

Manning Marable's new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties. Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.

Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for History
2012 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize Finalist
Finalist for the 2011 National Book Award in Nonfiction
One of the New York Times Book Review's Top 10 Books of 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

In hardcover, this revelatory biography of human rights activist Malcolm X (1925-1965) was hailed as "magisterial...an exceeding brave as well as a major intellectual accomplishment," named as a finalist for the National Book Award and honored as one of the New York Times Top 10 Books of the Year. Now in trade paperback and NOOK Book, this bestseller promises to attract even more readers.

Edward Ash-Milby

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

It is truly a shame that Marable passed away just days before this epic masterwork reached stores. This is a book whose reputation preceded itself and would have required little promotion; allegations by Marable that Malcolm both participated in a homosexual encounter with an early patron and was unfaithful to his wife Betty had already raised the ire of two of Malcolm's daughters, as well as others in the black community for whom Malcolm X has been raised to near-sainthood over the 40-odd years since his assassination. But neither claim is based on much evidence, and neither takes away from the overall impact of the work. Indeed the towering achievement of this book, which took Marable almost two decades to complete, is his ability to present Malcolm X as a flawed, struggling human being, as much at odds with his government as with himself. Marable deftly follows the same narrative path as did Haley's autobiography, but filling in the gaps and fine-tuning the exaggerations of that best-selling volume. Combing through FBI and NYPD files, gathering Nation of Islam interviews, and fleshing out Malcolm's post-NOI activities abroad, Marable succeeds spectacularly in painting a broader and more complex portrait of a man constantly in search of himself and his place in America.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Reviews

A candid, corrective look at the Nation of Islam leader and renegade—and a deeply informed investigation of the evolution of his thinking on race and revolution.

For decades, distinguished scholar Marable (African-American Affairs/Columbia Univ.;Living Black History: How Re-Imagining the African-American Past Can Remake America's Racial Future, 2006, etc.) studied the life and work of Malcolm X (1925–1965), and this meticulous sifting of the fact from the fictionexpertly places him within the civil-rights movement of the time and as catalyst for the emerging Black Power struggle. The author looks beyond the myth that "Malcolmites" have woven around their leader and returns to original sources, such as NOI members and former members; Malcolm's widow and their children; African and Islamist chiefs Malcolm met on his extensive travels abroad; civil-rights activists, who were wary of his views on racial separatism; and files by the FBI and New York Police Department, who may have been complicit in his assassination by NOI operatives on Feb. 21, 1965. First and foremost, Marable deconstructs Alex Haley's masterlyAutobiography of Malcolm X (1965), which he and Malcolm collaborated on for years before Malcolm's death, but which exaggerates the exploits of Malcolm's earlier manifestation as "Detroit Red," probably in order to render more powerful the conversion to Islam of this hustler, pimp and thief incarcerated at the Norfolk Prison Colony. For years, Malcolm was NOI's exalted evangelical front man and first minister, broadcasting the organization's anti-white, anti-political doctrine before Malcolm's recognition of the crucial work of the civil-rights activists and the need for global black political engagement prompted his break with the NOIto embrace what Marable terms Pan-Africanism. Moreover, Malcolm could not sanction Elijah Muhammad's extramarital affairs and out-of-wedlock children, setting in motion a perilous countdown to NOI retribution. The Malcolm X revealed here was troublingly misogynist and occasionally precipitous in action and speech, but possessed a dauntless sincerity and intelligence that was only beginning to shape and clarify his message for humanity.

A bold, sure-footed, significant biography of enormous depth and feeling.

Michiko Kakutani
In his revealing and prodigiously researched new biography…Manning Marable…vividly chronicles [the] many incarnations of [Malcolm X], describing the "multiple masks" he donned over the years, while charting the complex and contradiction-filled evolution of his political and religious beliefs…Marable artfully strips away the layers and layers of myth that have been lacquered onto his subject's life…[and] manages to situate Malcolm X within the context of 20th-century racial politics in America without losing focus on his central character…
—The New York Times
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
“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.”
Cornel West
“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!”
Michael Eric Dyson
“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.”
Michiko Kakutani
“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.”
The Washington Post
“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 Atlantic
“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.”
Boston Globe
“Magisterial…Marable’s biography is an exceedingly brave as well as a major intellectual accomplishment.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Marable has crafted an extraordinary portrait of a man and his time…A masterpiece.”
Ebony
“This book is a must read.”
The Philadelphia Tribune
“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 Financial Times
“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.”
Newsday
“Manning Marable’s scholarship was as provocative and profound as it was prodigious.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education
“[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.”
New York Daily News
“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.”
The National
“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.”
BlackVoices.com
“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.”
The Wilson Quarterly
“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.”
VeryShortList.com
“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.”
CNN.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.”
The Nation
“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.”
TheRoot.com
“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.”
The Columbia Record
“A prolific scholar.”
TheBarnesandNobleReview.com
“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.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670022205
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/4/2011
  • Pages: 608
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Manning Marable
Manning Marable is M. Moran Weston and Black Alumni Council Professor of African American Studies and professor of history and public affairs at Columbia University. He was founding director of African American Studies at Columbia from 1993 to 2003. Since 2002, he has directed Columbia's Center for Contemporary Black History. The author of fifteen books, Marable is also the editor of the quarterly journal Souls.
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Table of Contents

Prologue Life Beyond the Legend 1

Chapter 1 "Up, You Mighty Race! " 1925-1941 15

Chapter 2 The Legend of Detroit Red 1941-January 1946 39

Chapter 3 Becoming "X" January 1946-August 1952 70

Chapter 4 "They Don't Come Like the Minister" August 1952-May 1957 100

Chapter 5 "Brother, a Minister Has to Be Married" May 1957-March 1959 130

Chapter 6 "The Hate That Hate Produced" March 1959-January 1961 155

Chapter 7 "As Sure As God Made Green Apples" January 1961-May 1962 180

Chapter 8 From Prayer to Protest May 1962-March 1963 211

Chapter 9 "He Was Developing Too Fast" April-November 1963 235

Chapter 10 "The Chickens Coming Home to Roost" December 1, 1963-March 12,1964 269

Chapter 11 An Epiphany in the Hajj March 12-May 21, 1964 297

Chapter 12 "Do Something About Malcolm X" May 21-July 11, 1964 321

Chapter 13 "In the Struggle for Dignity" July 11-November 24,1964 360

Chapter 14 "Such a Man Is Worthy of Death" November 24,1964-February 14,1965 388

Chapter 15 Death Comes on Time February 14-February 21, 1965 418

Chapter 16 Life After Death 450

Epilogue Reflections on a Revolutionary Vision 479

Acknowledgments and Research Notes 489

Notes 495

A Glossary of Terms 559

Bibliography 563

Index 577

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 94 )
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(11)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 95 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2011

    Why now I truly wonder?

    This book that claims to be an extensive history of The Autobiography of Malcolm X it is not.Manning Marable wrote a book at first seem to be genuine at provide new detail of Malcolm X, then the slander and malicious statements made places this book possibly as fiction and why did the author not speak with family or wait so long to publish the book and isn't ironic the book is published after Marable passed away. I would have loved to hear the answers many would have asked him of this book.
    To questioned Malcolm sexuality is classless and beneath all the history Manning Marable had made prior to this book. Read this at your own risk,save your money and rent it a library,not waste money on something that does not add, but tries to divide African American community and history.Avoid please

    18 out of 54 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 15, 2011

    A Challenge To The Validity Of One's Open Mindedness

    "Malcolm X: A Life Of Reinvention," by Manning Marable is not for the weak minded and those easily shaken about distasteful alleged revelations about their heroes and heroines. Mr. Marable will either elevate a reader's level of appreciation of Malcolm X, or taint it with portrayals of him that may be perceived as unforgivable violations of hero worship. I believe it is a book well worth purchasing and reading in earnest. It will be important to realize that in indulging in the book that at times it is the writer's interpretations of Malcolm X being showcased. Certain statements are not necessarily purported truths that can't be challenged. I see a future where more books about the complex character of Malcolm X will be written and published. However, Manning Marable's latest book is one for the ages. I believe it will ultimately stand the test of time in terms of its relevance to readers being challenged to be honest about their biases while seeking truths. Again, there will probably be more books about Malcolm X, but they will be hard pressed to be as controversial as "Malcolm X: A Life Of Reinvention." Manning Marable's history of scholarly excellence is unquestionable. He has now taken a risk that if successful may enlarge the acceptance of truths and reduce the playing field of what has previously been pawned off as mere gossip, used for the character assassinations of great men and women in the human rights struggle. The best thing is to read this book for yourself.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 5, 2011

    Highly Recommended!

    I have just started reading this book and it is so enlighting. I have not been able to put this book down. One of the best books I have read so far regarding Malcolm X. It amazes me how this author has put togethor pieces of a crime that police have not be able to do or cared to do. Sad that the author did not live to see the success of this book, that I am certain it would be.

    10 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2011

    No opinion on content yet -- ebook has flaws

    I look forward to learning more about Malcolm X; the book seems well researched and is certainly well written so far.

    I'm writing to continue my complaint about sloppy B&N ebook publishing, which I've observed in several different cases now. In the case of this book, apostrophes are frequently represented as question marks, e.g., "UNIA?s" , "KKK?s", and "Nasser?s" in just the first chapter or two. Does anyone actually read these e-books before publishing them?

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2011

    THIS IS A WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY

    A lauded Professor writes another book filled with innuendo. Hasn't he done this before? What is his obsession with pulling back layers that don't effect the legacy of those he researches? I do not believe he uncovered information the government missed. I believe a sick and desperate man wanted a legacy of his own, even if he had to use others to obtain it.

    4 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Disappointed

    Felt the author had an ax to grind with Malcolm. Or perhaps it was a ploy by the author to generate controversy to sell his book. The author injects a lot of his own perspective based on hersay and second hand stories. He does come up with some interesting trivia though.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 5, 2013

    Well-researched, but annoying innuendo.  In Malcolm X: A Life o

    Well-researched, but annoying innuendo. 

    In Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, Manning Marable set out to honestly portray a man and to humanize an icon. Marable intended on filling in holes left by truth-bending and necessary lack-of-future-knowledge in The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Since I am not an expert on the subject, I have to say that Marable's book seemed very thorough and well-researched. It was also an engrossing narrative. I feel it well-deserves its Pulitzer Prize. My only complaint was towards the beginning of the novel, Marable inserted some innuendo about Malcolm X's sexuality - which was unnecessary, and rather rude since he didn't have any hard evidence to support his claims. That innuendo was referenced obliquely a few times in the first quarter of the book. Luckily, those references stopped for the last three quarters of the book, or I would have been left with a very bad taste in my mouth.




    The only reason I bring up that complaint is because I was looking for hints to why there's a controversy about this book. I was wondering if there was anything I, personally, could pick up. I'm not very familiar with what the controversy is about - and I haven't seen any controversial reference to the innuendo that bothered me. Mostly, the controversy seems to be about Marable's lack of respect for the impact Malcolm X had on the Black Liberation Movement. If you're interested in exploring the controversy, there's a book entitled A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable's Malcolm X, if you really want to delve into the issue. However, I am satisfied that Marable did a lot of really good research, and wrote an interesting and informative book. The issue of exactly what long-term impact Malcolm X had on the Civil Rights Movement and the country as a whole is an opinion, in my opinion. 

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 3, 2011

    What a waste

    Is this the legacy Marable Manning wants to leave tasteless garbage.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2011

    The Book we should have read in high school

    Please read

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Malcolm X Reinvented by a book written in marvel

    Provocative book by an excellent black intellectual. The frankness in TRULY portraying the fullness of Malcolm's life does not lessen my picture of Malcolm, but only enhances his humanity. His portrayal of how others around Malcolm felt around him is also inspiring. Fair and impartial work not as inspirational as THe autobiography but inspiring. This will go down as a towering work of a true revolutionary.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2013

    Mindless Behavior

    Keep her on the low subscribe and follow on keek please and thanku

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2013

    A Good Soul Revealed

    I appreciated the opportunity this book provided for me to read about the man - not the myth, the teacher - not the zealot, the human - not the enemy -- "the real Malcolm". His youth, adulthood, conversion, advocacy, loves, dreams, efforts, adversaries, struggles, vacations, philosophies, and determination are explored openly and faithfully.
    A well told story of turbulent, violent times and the struggle for the respect of a people; and the tragic end for Malcolm X.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2013

    Like

    Like

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2013

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 26, 2012

    Knowing Malcolm X better. At Malcolm X’s funeral, Ossie Da

    Knowing Malcolm X better.
    At Malcolm X’s funeral, Ossie Davis said “if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.” Marable’s biography makes that more possible. He states that “Malcolm X should become a representative for hope and human dignity.” Everyone can take that from this superbly written biography.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2012

    Well Done!

    A compelling analysis of the life and legacy of this complex talent. This book is a must read.....

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    haijia

    this is a very good © written by a famous writer

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 26, 2011

    Excellent and well researched

    This book is one history book for the ages. Its well researched and challenges us to think critically about the life and times of Malcolm X

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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