Nakia's Reviews > Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

Malcolm X by Manning Marable
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's review
Feb 02, 2012

it was amazing

I spent 11 days with this book. Half of those days, I’ve dealt with some kind of ebola zika bird flu strep throat virus. So it’s just been me, my bed, Kleenex, and these nearly 600 pages of the life of Malcolm X.

Noted African American history professor and scholar, Manning Marable claimed these pages as his life’s work. After teaching The Autobiography of Malcolm X and noticing inconsistencies within the book, he decided to piece together Malcolm’s life from diary entries, interviews, FBI and police surveillance, meeting notes, letters, and a host of other primary sources. More than a decade of research, and this is the result. Released to a lot of controversy, due to salacious facts about Malcolm’s sexuality in his early years, his erratic and drama filled marriage to Dr. Betty Shabazz, and discrediting much of The Autobiography... as fictive in order to inspire the downtrodden and further Alex Haley’s republican ideals; it was also released to a lot of praise thanks to the meticulous and engaging examination of his life. Marable died from pneumonia three days before the book was released, leaving it impossible for him to defend this work. But even still, this book is a master biography, having won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2012, and numerous other accolades.

I have so many feelings to unpack about who Malcolm could’ve been, what he would’ve been for Black people everywhere, had he not been gunned down. A Life of Reinvention is one of the best titles one can give the man, as he dealt with numerous transformations and was on his way to becoming a Pan-African leader, uniting Black people across nations. The bridges he built within Morocco, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and the Middle East on behalf of the African American struggle during the last few months of his life were amazing. He was also preparing to bring the plight of Black Americans before the United Nations, framing our struggle as human rights violations on an international stage on par with South African apartheid.

There is so much to talk about within this book: Marcus Garvey’s early influence which opened the door for the NOI to flourish, the history of the NOI along with the brazen violent tactics used to keep order and protect their leader, Malcolm’s very questionable marriage, Malcolm’s relationship with other civil rights leaders and organizations, and the broken loyalties that led to his death.

I wish I’d read this with a class led by a Malcolmite scholar because unpacking it by myself is a daunting task. I especially want to research more about Malcolm’s views on women which seemed very problematic, and his connection to Maya Angelou, which was both exciting and disappointing. Despite that, this book is brilliant, heartbreaking, and life changing. I’m thankful that I was finally able to dedicate time to learning more about my favorite Black activist.
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Reading Progress

February 2, 2012 – Shelved
February 11, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
May 20, 2016 – Started Reading
May 20, 2016 –
page 47
May 21, 2016 –
page 100
May 23, 2016 –
page 155
May 24, 2016 –
page 211
May 25, 2016 –
page 250
May 26, 2016 –
page 297
May 29, 2016 –
page 360
May 31, 2016 –
page 427
May 31, 2016 –
page 609
May 31, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Kim (new) - added it

Kim This book wasn't even on my radar, but now after reading your review I am intrigued.

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