Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Before reading this book, I knew little about Malcolm X. I knew he was a civil rights activist in the 60s, promoted a more "violent"(or less peaceful) approach, and was assassinated. I had not read his autobiography, nor had I watched the Spike Lee film on his life. Marable uses oral histories, FBI files, and many other resources to follow the account of Malcolm's life from his family history until his death. Marable's theme was one of Malcolm reinventing his life after different phases in his life, from life on the streets, through his tenure with the Nation of Islam, his trip to mecca, and his assassination.
What I learned was that Malcolm X was a very learned and charismatic man. He was bold and at times shocking, but he wanted to learn and be a spokesman for the Afro-American common man of the 60s. He may have advocated violence or the use of force "if needed", he never used it himself, and after his trips to Africa and Egypt, he immersed himself in orthodox Islam and started on a course of a more peaceful means of civil rights. It is, of course, unknown if he would have continued along that path had he not been killed given the tension of the times, but I would have like to think that he might have. He was a controversial figure and still is, but he was a very smart and engaging person whose ideas on civil rights still resonate today.
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