The Autobiography of Malcolm X
ONE OF TIME’S TEN MOST IMPORTANT NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
In the searing pages of this classic autobiography, originally published in 1964, Malcolm X, the Muslim leader, firebrand, and anti-integrationist, tells the extraordinary story of his life and the growth of the Black Muslim movement. His fascinating perspective…
Why read it?
5 authors picked The Autobiography of Malcolm X as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
Bad writing often feels written. This book feels and is spoken. A magnificent speaker finds a good listener in Alex Haley.
Told in the first person by Malcolm Little, who later is called “Detroit Red” and later (in prison) called “Satan” and becomes Malcolm X and, eventually, Malik Shabazz: a great American story. From misery and injustice and mistreatment and crime and leadership to his ultimate interest in history and philology.
The first time I read this book, I think I devoured it in almost one sitting. Riveting and fast-moving, the story of Malcolm Little from Omaha, Nebraska to his rise as one of the most influential advocates for racial justice is not to be missed. I promise you won’t be disappointed by this read!
This was the first book that I ever read that wasn’t assigned to me. I read it when I was 13 years old because the movie was about to come out that year and my cousin made me read it. At its core, it’s a story of self-discovery, race, and evolution. It’s filled with lessons that fathers, especially those with children of color, should definitely be teaching to their kids.
The second choice is another statutory example for a life punctured and ended by resistance against the rather more nefarious manifestations of power, in this case racism in the United States. I had to read this book in high school at a German Protestant private school in the northern port town of Hamburg and I was immediately struck by its vivid realism, and the genuine belief of the author that a just struggle will prevail in the end. I am sure Malcolm would see his worldview vindicated by the global BlackLivesMatter movement triggered by the savage murder of George Floyd.
Malcolm X’s autobiography, co-written with Alex Haley, is one of the most compelling personal testimonies ever published in America and one of the most extraordinary leadership journeys ever documented. It is simultaneously educational and wrenching, as the narrative moves from Malcolm’s difficult childhood to his life as a criminal to his political and spiritual awakening in prison to his rise to national and global fame and notoriety as a black revolutionary to his murder at age 39. What we learn from his story is how a leader can emerge “organically”, without being appointed, or selected, or having an institutional base…
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