Of the figures who tower over twentieth century American history, perhaps none is more complex, more multifaceted and controversial, than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and eventually an icon, eventually assassinated at the age of 39. The details of his life have long since calcified into a familiar narrative: his early years as a vagabond in Boston and New York, his conversion to Islam and subsequent rise to prominence as a militant advocate for black rights, his acrimonious split with the Nation of Islam, and ultimately his violent death at their hands. Yet this story, told and retold to various ends by writers, historians, and filmmakers, captures only a snapshot, a fraction of the man in full.
To truly understand Malcolm, we need to go deeper, to find the source of his voluminous rage and charisma. Manning Marable's new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement, the culmination of years of research and dogged pursuit of those who knew him, many of whom have never before spoken about him on the record. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that will reframe the way we understand his life and work, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of the darkest days of racial unrest, from the rise of the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement. Marable reaches deep into Malcolm's troubled youth, tracing a path from the activism of his Garveyite parents through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, and examining the romantic relationships whose energy alternately drained him and pushed him to unimagined heights.
Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most important figures in the history of civil rights, surpassing previous treatments in its depth and intensity, and capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.