Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

Manning Marable. Viking, $30 (594p) ISBN 978-0-670-02220-5
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. (Apr. 4)
Reviewed on: 05/23/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
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