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The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  3,251 ratings  ·  588 reviews
Les Payne, the renowned Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist, embarked in 1990 on a nearly thirty-year-long quest to interview anyone he could find who had actually known Malcolm X—all living siblings of the Malcolm Little family, classmates, street friends, cellmates, Nation of Islam figures, FBI moles and cops, and political leaders around the world. His goal ...more
Hardcover, First Edition (U.S.), 612 pages
Published October 20th 2020 by Liveright Publishing Corporation/W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
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Jonathan Cleveland Within a week of completing this book, I loved every moment.
Mark This book also divulges a lot that was in government records, in some cases, obtained through the freedom of information act.

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“The French people have placed the negro soldier in France on an equality with the white man, and it has gone to their heads.” ~Woodrow Wilson, 1919

Malcolm X was a brilliant, courageous badass who saw American Christianity as an obstacle to equality and justice...

“[Malcolm] launched a frontal assault upon the New Testament promise of the “hereafter” so widely accepted by Negroes, religious or not. Malcolm flatly dismissed all chances of human postmortem reward, proclaiming that there would be “n
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Like many people around the world, The Autobiography of Malcolm X had a powerful impact on my own life and upbringing. For a certain sort of person, Malcolm X remains something close to a saint. He was a symbol of both resistance to oppression and inextinguishable human potential. For people who loved Malcolm, this book fills in more details about his life by doing the painstaking journalistic work of tracking those still living who knew him. Les Payne was a truly dogged journalist, as you can t ...more
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: usa, 2020-read
Now Winner of the Pulitzer Prize 2021
Winner of the National Book Award for Non-Fiction 2020

Les Payne worked on this book for almost 30 years, and it shows: This account of Malcolm X's life, completed after Payne's death by his daughter and primary researcher Tamara, finds an organic and often poetic way to piece together the events and decisions that made the human rights activist and Muslim minister who he was. Filled to the brim with detail and background information (for instance about the Na
Jul 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, overdrive
I didn’t really know much about Malcolm X before his assassination in 1965. In part that was due to my general ignorance and in part it was due to the way he was portrayed by the media. For the most part they seemed to want to pit Malcolm against Martin Luther King Jr. and insist that King was the “good” Negro and Malcolm was the “bad” one (of course in some quarters, like the FBI, they were equally bad). It’s nice that we now have movies and books, like this one, that can present a more complet ...more
Traci Thomas
Nov 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a majorly researched feat. The whole thing is incredible. It starts a little slow but the back half is incredible. I actually got weepy leading up to the assassination. It’s a wow.
Feb 10, 2022 rated it really liked it
The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X is an informative, detailed look at the life of Malcolm X. Les Payne worked on the research for this book for almost 30 years, which his daughter Tamara completed following his death in 2018.

I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X last year and prior to reading it, knew very little about him. It, too, was informative and while I don’t agree with all of Malcolm’s beliefs, he was smart and had many ideas that were ahead of his time.

A fair amount of infor
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Now that it has taken the 2021 Pulitzer for Biography, I'm feeling stingy about the lack of a fifth star.

Maybe I'm the last of the Mohicans, but I knew precious little about Malcolm X (beyond hearing of him a lot) and decided to plug the historical gap in my education by reading this book. Exhaustive is a good word for it -- thorough as all get-out, meaning that sometimes the thoroughness might try you, as in all the info about Malcolm's parents (before we even get to Malcolm) and his father's p
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
National Book Award for Nonfiction 2020. Les Payne and his daughter, Tamara Payne, focused their 30 years of research on Malcolm X, the man, versus the iconic myth surrounding the Black revolutionary leader.

Malcolm’s parents, Earl Little, from Georgia, and Louise Helen Little, from Grenada, met in the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). This was one of the most important Black organizations of the 20th century, and its leader Marcus Garvey was a personal acquaintance of Earl Little.
Congratulations!! 🎊 National Book Award Winner!!

The Dead Are Arising is the collaborative effort of Les Payne and his daughter Tamara. For the heralded columnist this is his opus, a thirty year labor of love. For Tamara Payne it is a testament to her father as much as it is to Malcolm.

This past Friday I had the pleasure of seeing Tamara Payne interviewed on Politics and Prose. In discussing the direction of The Dead Are Arising she explained how our love for the man clouds our vision of him.
Ryan Macnair
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is great companion reading to the Autobiography of Malcolm X. It parses through Malcolm's life using interviews with his siblings as well as many people who knew him personally in order to flesh out a full version of his life. It gives you a better idea of who Malcolm was in all of the major phases of his life. Of course, there are some things that seem consequential in his autobiography which barely get a mention here, but that most likely has to do with being able to corroborate the stori ...more
May 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
It is hard to overstate what the life and history of the man Malcolm X means to so many audiences. Read at the right time, his memoirs, co-written with Alex Haley, electrify. But where can a biography can be written about a man whose memoirs were so outstanding?

Les Payne had the background and experiences to make the attempt. an award winning journalist previously known for his work on the "French Connection" of the drug trade and his foreign correspondence in South Africa, began the work for t
Oct 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Conor Ahern
I had heard that The Autobiography of Malcolm X was too drenched in misogynoir to get through, but curious about Malcolm X's life, this presented a different potential path of discovery. The book stemmed from the author's historical research, plus the unlikely opportunity to become close with and learn from one of Malcolm's siblings. The result is a pretty fleshed out story, though one that seems heavily tilted toward the younger, formative years of Malcolm X's life.

The look we get into Malcolm
THE DEAD ARE ARISING: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne, 2020.

⭐ Winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2020 // Pulitzer Prize for Biography 2021

Journalist Les Payne built this book around scores of interviews he conducted, and archival & personal research he started in 1990.

Take a minute. 1990.
He researched this book for 28 years.

Unfortunately he didn't see its publication, as he passed in 2018. His daughter / fellow researcher Tamara Payne took it the rest of the
May 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tbb-master

Published last fall, “The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X” is the result of nearly three decades of work by Les Payne. Following his death in 2018 – with the manuscript nearly finished – his daughter (and primary research assistant) completed the book. Les Payne was a former U.S. Army Ranger and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and editor at Newsday.

Payne’s background as an investigative journalist will not come as a surprise to readers of this
I Be Reading
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I adore Malcolm X and have read almost every book in existence about him. This one is an absolute must read for anyone that loves or is curious about Malcolm and his life. It is extremely well researched and thorough; lots of new information about Malcolm that is not mentioned in his autobiography or in other biographies about him. Very light on information about Betty and their daughters but thorough in identifying all the players in the Nation of Islam (several passages left me stunned). It is ...more
Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Dec 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
an exhaustive and thorough telling of Malcolm's life. It reads like an act of love by someone who wants to know and tell the absolute truth about a man as a way to feel closer to him. Payne does a great job contextualizing Malcolm's life, choices, and circumstances. ...more
Donna Davis
I haven’t been this disappointed in a long time. From the moment I saw this book listed on Net Galley, I was eager to read it, given that the promotion promises a lot of new information about this courageous man, a powerful advocate for the rights of people of color. When I didn’t receive a galley, I awaited the book’s release, and I went out and bought it. Less than halfway into it, I was absolutely sickened.

For starters, not all new information is important or necessary information. There’s a
Thomas Rush
Nov 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I first read “The Autobiography Of Malcolm X” 38 years ago, in 1982. I have read the book more than 5 additional times, each time offering new insights. The book was so inspiring that I have been obsessed with knowing more about him. I have reviewed a wide scope of works in reference to Malcolm, so it is easy for me to become complacent and to think that there is very little that is ever going to be presented that is new. This new book by Les Payne proves me wrong. I purchased Payne's book on th ...more
Britta Böhler
Read for the BTP / Quarterfinals Nonfiction.
May 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Eleanor is going on a Civil Right's tour this summer. She'll have stops in Memphis at the Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel... Jackson, Mississippi; Selma, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia. It will be good, and meaningful. I'm pretty jealous that I don't get to go.

El's a pretty insightful, thoughtful, and well-rounded individual. She listens. She thinks. Etc... etc...

But I don't want her going into this cold, so I've given her some readings before the trip - which is in early July.

So, we're act
May 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
I read Malcolm X's autobiography last year and while it was great I felt like I was missing some context, not to mention unbiased perspective because hey, autobiography. Les and Tamara bring all of that and more in a fascinating and enlightening look at Malcolm X's life. It's long, but not without reason, and I appreciate every page.

More detailed thoughts in my Booktube Prize vlog.
Barbara Gregorich
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
The first chapter of this book begins with two gripping, life-and-death stories. The first is the story of Louise Little standing on the porch of her Omaha home, confronting the Klansmen who came to threaten, if not murder, her husband — who was in Milwaukee at the time. Surrounded by her three children, the eight-months pregnant Louise faced down the Klansmen. A month later, she gave birth to her fourth child: Malcolm.

The second is the story of the 1919 Omaha race murders, in which a screaming,
Aug 26, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I wanted to learn more about Malcolm X, and this biography gave me what I sought to learn. It's a generally sympathetic, fair-minded, and informative biography of the Black religious leader. I thought the author wanted to present a well-balanced discussion of her controversial subject and succeeded. It's well researched. By the end of the book, I felt as if I'd satisfied my curiosity and may continue my reading on Malcolm X. ...more
Odi Shonga
Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The Dead Are Rising is a comprehensive, authoritative investigation into Malcolm X’s life, from his parents’ life in Nebraska to his assassination on February 21, 1965. It covers a lot of the same events of the Autobiography, but Les Payne brings decades of journalistic rigour to the project, sifting fact from fiction and shining new light on previously obscured details. The result is a fuller, more historical account of Malcom’s life than the more first-personal, emotive Autobiography.

The book
Randall Wallace
Dec 17, 2021 rated it liked it
Malcolm X’s father sometimes would go hear Marcus Garvey talk. As a kid, future actor Henry Fonda witnessed the lynching of Will Brown in Omaha. That lynching was probably caused by white men in blackface assaulting white women. The Ku Klux Klan had a membership of 3,000,000 and included two governors and “hundreds of thousands of women.” Woodrow Wilson said, “segregation is not humiliating but a benefit.” Fire Departments (like Lansing Michigan) would refuse back then to respond if a colored pe ...more
[Name Redacted]
Malcom X was one of my sometime-heroes growing up. I didn't share his devotion to Islam, nor could I share his Black Nationalist race-hatred, but I lived in the shadow of his mosque in Harlem and admired him as a man who legitimately fought for what he believed to be right -- and, most importantly, who changed his beliefs and his behavior when he was confronted with new information that challenged his preconceptions. He was an idol with feet of clay, and I respected him.

All that,
Mark Barrett
Oct 14, 2020 rated it liked it
The takeaway: I have not finished this book yet but in my opinion, it has not been very well-researched. I ultimately couldn't bring myself to purchase it due to the poor scholarship. Manning Marable's A Life of Reinvention remains the essential biography of Malcolm X.

Good: I will say that the authors have done a great job in finding primary sources who knew Malcolm and his family and are willing to share their recollections. There were a lot of interesting anecdotes regarding Malcolm X and his
Rachel Maxwell
May 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
“The Dead Are Arising.” I really enjoyed reading about Malcolm X. A culmination of thirty years of research that includes interviews from family members, members of the Nation of Islam, cops, and many more allowed me to have a deeper understanding of Malcolm X. The highlights were the private conversation with the Ku Klux Klan, play by play of assassination, and aftermath.
Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...
This smart, thorough and interesting biography just knocked some other book off my Top 10 List for 2020.
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Leslie Payne was an American journalist. He served as an editor and columnist at Newsday and was a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Articles featuring this book

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” So, this January, as we celebrate Martin Luther King...
68 likes · 17 comments
“At the time, Payne was an editor at Newsday, a daily newspaper on Long Island. He had won a Pulitzer Prize in 1974 as part of a reporting team investigating the international flow of heroin from the poppy fields of Turkey, through the French connection, and into the veins of New York drug addicts. He was renowned for his investigative persistence and his skill in obtaining the truth from reluctant sources. As he often told his three children—Jamal, Haile, and myself—he could not abide the phrase “We may never know.” 0 likes
“Our attitude made a difference in how they dealt with us compared to some of the others [Negroes],” said Wilfred. “When white people find out that you don’t have that inferiority complex, they deal with you at that level; it makes a difference. A lot of our problems we bring on ourselves by our own inferiority feelings sometimes. If you acted like you were inferior, that’s the way they related to you. If you didn’t act like you were inferior, then they would be forced to treat you as an equal. And this is the way we were.” 34” 0 likes
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