Alex Hailey - Autobiography of Malcolm X

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An Important Book for Everyone to Read

Jun 21, 2004
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Interesting, suspenseful account

Cons:Hard to swallow at times

The Bottom Line: Read this book if you are interested in American History, if you like a good biography, or if you are interested in the race issue in America.


The autobiography of Malcolm X is an account of America's radical civil rights leader of the 1950's and 1960's. With the help of Alex Haley, to whom Malcolm tells his story, the reader sees the formation and transformations of a most riveting individual.

The world of Malcolm X is one that continually expands, and as it does, his belief system continually changes.

The book begins telling of Malcolm's childhood in Michigan. His father is a preacher and black activist, who subscribes to the philosophy of the black leader Marcus Garvey, who advocated that African-Americans separate from America, rather than integrate.

Family upheaval causes Malcolm to move to Boston with his sister Ella. Here Malcolm is introduced to the nightlife of the big city, and along with it, the music scene, drugs, and pleasure seeking.

A job with the railroad exposes Malcolm to New York City, and he instantly falls in love. His lifestyle becomes even more decadent in Harlem, and Malcolm finds himself closer everyday to trouble with either the police or fellow hustlers. To escape a hustler who wants money from him, Malcolm moves back to Boston, where he and an old friend find a new criminal hobby that lands Malcolm in jail.

Prison proves to be a major turning point in the life of the now drug addicted and morally bankrupt Malcolm. Listening to a fellow prisoner whose enlightening speeches are widely respected by others, Malcolm soon finds studying and reading as a new pleasure. On a visit to the prison to see Malcolm, one of his brothers plants the seed of the Islam religion in Malcolm, which will soon grow rapidly.

Released from prison, Malcolm X is a new man. An intelligent man and eloquent speaker, (a skill refined in prison debates) Malcolm rises to near the top of the hierarchy of the Nation of Islam under the guidance of Elijah Muhammad.

After many years with the Nation, Malcolm undergoes one more major transformation that changes his thinking permanently.

The twists and turns of this autobiography are so captivating and drastic that it is easy to forget you are reading a true story. This account of Malcolm X is told very well by Alex Haley, who continually gives the reader insight as to the state of mind of Malcolm X. My review of the storyline itself barely scratches the surface of what depths one begins to know the man Malcolm X by reading this account. Most importantly, this book challenges one's own beliefs, convictions, and feelings, whether white or black, Christian, Jew, or Muslim, male or female.


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