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The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X

The Autobiography of Malcolm X (original 1965; edition 1969)

by Malcolm X, M. S. Handler (Introduction), Alex Haley (Afterword)

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5,31157828 (4.24)126
Title:The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Authors:Malcolm X
Other authors:M. S. Handler (Introduction), Alex Haley (Afterword)
Info:Random House (1969), Edition: 24th 1977, Paperback, 460 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X (1965)


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A must read for older students, provided with historical context.
  Climbing-books | Dec 18, 2014 |
One of the most important voices from the Civil Right Movement was Malcolm X. This is a must read for biography fans. Malcolm X said what people were scared to say, he stood up for what he believed in. The kind of passion that fueled this man is a rare quality indeed. ( )
  Rosenstern | Sep 13, 2014 |
I read this book when I was seventeen. It was a life changer. I never saw myself in the same light again. ( )
  khaalidah | Mar 14, 2014 |
“If Malcolm X were not a Negro, his autobiography would be little more than a journal of abnormal psychology, the story of a burglar, dope pusher, addict and jailbird—with a family history of insanity—who acquires messianic delusions and sets forth to preach an upside-down religion of ‘brotherly’ hatred.”

-Saturday Evening Post, Sept. 12, 1965

Sensationalist, yes? Reminiscent of certain responses to Twelve Years a Slave winning multiple Academy Awards at this year's Oscars, and this is nearly fifty years on. Within these pages, Malcolm X spoke of a hope that by the year 2000, the white-washing of Jesus and other Biblical figures would be ended, and the true unresolved question of their physical aspects would be reflected by portrayals ranging all across the spectrum. In the year 2014, certain groups had conniptions over suggestions that Santa Clause could be black. The world goes on, and popular thought appropriates.

What is especially telling about that editorial first sentence up there is the overt interplay between prose and reader perception. This is important to consider when imbibing any text, but here, in context with racism, in context with classism, in context with the institutional ideologies' demand that all resistance be nonviolent while weighing it down with "sign of the times" murder, rampant lynching then and shotgunning teenagers now for reasons of "too loud music", in context with the autobiography of Malcolm X, ask yourself if a criminal record puts you off reading about a person, and then ask yourself why.

Ask yourself what constitutes the "abnormal psychology", the "messianic delusions", the "upside-down religion of 'brotherly hatred'", the CEO, the politician, any belief that preaches intolerance for the non-believer. Ask yourself what half-hearted bullshit constitutes "If Malcolm X were not a Negro", passing off the enormous debt the US has to its history of slavery as an embarrassing pathos, a ploy, an "Oh, they kicked the puppy and now it's telling its story, of course it'll get attention." Ask yourself what your memories of this monumental figure in history are, the first time you heard his name, whether you wondered at his story, his X, or condemned him from the start.

My beginning was a mention of a footnote of violence in a summary of the 20th century. It took me more than ten years too long to extend my thinking beyond this roadblock.

“So as a black man and especially as a black American, any stand that I formerly took, I don’t think that I would have to defend it because it’s still a reaction to the society, and it’s a reaction that was produced by the society; and I think that it is the society that produces this that should be attacked, not the reaction that develops among the people who are the victims of that negative society.”

-From the Pierre Berton Show, taped at Station CFTO-TV in Toronto, January 19, 1965

It is interesting to note how soon after Malcolm's change of heart he was assassinated. It is interesting to note how his message as a living embodiment of hope for those who have slipped through the cracks of well-to-do society has been seen as a mark against him. It is key to observe the contentions over the non-fictional aspect of this work, when the existence of Columbus Day renders the controversy not only absurd, but obscene. Either do not discriminate in your pointing of fingers at act and advocation of physical violence, or don't do it at all.

Whatever your personal alignments with the beliefs conveyed in this book, it is and shall always be a gift to the world. While it may be true that I would have to be restrained from punching Malcolm X in the face for his deriding of women, especially his "any country's moral strength, or moral weakness, is quickly measurable by the street attire and attitude of its women", my disagreement does not impact my appreciation of his importance. What he believed in, he said, and the writing of this biography during the last few years of his life displays this dramatic evolution, all the more so because of Haley's keeping Malcolm X to his word of not changing the overarching message of any previous writing. It is his willingness to speak and question that led him on his pilgrimage to Mecca, it is this overhaul of both belief and character that led him from disenfranchised boy to city slick teenager to convict to minister to a crisis of conscience in full throes up to the point he was shot down. In his words, “I’m man enough to tell you that I can’t put my finger on exactly what my philosophy is now, but I’m flexible.” Patriarchal in delivery, admirable in gist.

There is no point to freedom of speech if you don't want to hear disagreeable things. Communication is worth as much as the controversy it provokes, and it is worth even more of the person communicating is willing to change in accordance to what is received by an open mind. In that, Malcolm X was a rare, rare breed, decrying the patronizing "equality" of the North as harshly as the blatant discrimination of the South, sometimes regretting his words but never recanting them. Just look at his main counterpart, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Even his proclaimed message of nonviolence doesn't save him from being condensed to a speech, a slogan, a "If Martin Luther King were alive today..." that ignores wholesale his indictment of capitalism, the Vietnam War, and so many other beliefs that don't fit in that image of a saint made comfortable for societal propagation. And this is how much the legacy of the "peaceful" civil rights activist has been twisted.

Before starting this book, I had a vague outline of race riots and Muslims. Today, I know Malcolm X to have been a reader, a thinker, a leader cut down in the midst of shifts from wholesale condemnation to broader platforms of acceptance, a man learning to hate the game of societal oppression, not the multitude of players. Thirty-six years and a wide variety of beliefs both religious and otherwise separates his lifetime from mine, but we share a desire for true and ubiquitous equality, as well as a love for James Baldwin. For that, I am glad to have finally made his literary acquaintance. ( )
  Korrick | Mar 7, 2014 |
I'm not sure how 2 review this book, I need to catch ma breath & take ma time be4 writing my detailed review, 'm sooo speechless...

All I can say 4 now is that I'm beyond impressed, wat a fascinating man, wat a journey, wat a struggle, Malcolm was a real truthful impressive brilliant man...

"And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves."
June 5,2013

So I'm an Arab -Egyptian- Muslim girl living in Cairo, wat did I know abt Malcolm X? I knew he was an American Muslim (convert) -which basically interests alot of Muslims-, and later I knew abt his life from Denzel Washington's movie abt him, but wat I've learned abt this man from his own words made me realize how Malcolm X is so underrated and unappreciated..

I can't begin 2 describe how this book changed alot in me, changed/perfected my perspective on resistance & justice,gave me a better understanding of ways to pursue justice 4 the oppressed..

I cried alot reading abt Malcolm's death, I cried 4 a man I've never met nor knew till months ago, I cried 4 an amazing man who left an amazing loving wife and 4 beautiful girls and a nation of Black ppl who looked up 2 him, I cried 4 the lost chances, 4 the robbed victories Malcolm could have made if he'd lived longer, just after he made his world tour aligning w/ big African nations, drawing attention 2 the discrimination against Afro-Americans, taking steps to take the cause to the UN, doing this all and more, and so they killed him, they killed Malcolm X 2 silence him forever coz he was right and strong and he scared the shit out of them!

When it comes 2 the Black revolution/struggle, all I knew was "Martin Luther King", and "I have a dream" speech ofc, which is basically wat the "white" media promoted/promotes till this day, a superficial image of King's struggle, and total negligence of Malcolm X's!! not to mention ignoring ppl like Robert F. Williams, Assata Shakur & ppl from the Black Panther Party who all preached self defense and arming African-Americans 2 defend themselves against any harm from others, since the country was/is not willing to defend them, on the contrary, police forces always used excessive power against African-Americans, police was the government's right arm doing all the dirty work 2 oppress Afro-Americans, or at least overlook the racism against them that led many times to killing Black ppl, not to mention the disgraceful KKK whom members actually killed Malcolm X's dad..

The "white" media promotes this kinda image just to instruct ppl to think that Afro-Americans gained their rights by being cute and peaceful, by only "having a dream", that they didn't have to fight,resist,protest and get really angry to "snatch" their rights from the white man's teeth, white man didn't give Afro-Americans their rights coz he was a good man, he was forced to, that's the lesson media tries to hide, and that's the lesson Malcolm X is teaching us in his book and legacy..

Here's wat I find impressive abt Malcolm X, he was well informed, he read alot in his time in prison, he used his knowledge to educate Black ppl abt their history and roots,he was a smart man who knew his audience and how to address them, he was an honest man who was so involved in the cause of bringing justice to Black ppl and he never lost his direction, and most importantly, he was a decent & honorable man who admitted to making mistakes when he realized he made one.

And wat's very annoying is how ppl perceived Malcolm's actions, talking abt his roots and heritage and the amazing civilization built in Africa by Africans way be4 white ppl were there meant "Black superiority"! his speeches abt the white devil who hates Black ppl meant "racism",his words abt self defense and being able 2 fight back whenever attacked meant he's a "militant", and so on.. it's so ridiculous how white ppl's feelings got hurt by Malcolm's words and teachings but not the truth or the ugly face of their racism, and it's even more ridiculous how some Black leaders attacked Malcolm 4 "preaching hate"!! Black leaders Malcolm called "home Negroes" and on the other hand described himself as a "field Negro"..

Wat makes Malcolm's legacy so important and a must 2 celebrate?

First of all, coz in honoring Malcolm, we also honor Black ppl's struggle, and wat an amazing inspiring powerful struggle that is!.. #Respect

2nd, coz Malcolm is an inspiration to all the oppressed all around the world, his words are always relevant 2 any oppressed group of ppl in any place, whether they r oppressed coz of their race/color/ethnicity/religion/sexuality or coz they r simply poor, Malcolm's words are so relevant to justice causes like the Palestinian Cause, reading Malcolm helps in getting a better picture @ how the oppressor mind works-whoever the oppressor is- and it sets ur mind to have a better understanding of "real" possible solutions..

3rd, it's coz of the fact that Malcolm's conversion to Islam was an important aspect of making his legacy, which is basically important 4 Muslims 2 know and understand 2 also help gain a better understanding of the religion..

I'm not gonna discuss the "Nation of Islam"'s Islam.. which is based on so-called facts made up by some1 (might be Elijah Muhammed) that is not related to Islam @ all, the "Yacub" story made me giggle tbh, nothing of this is in Islam..

But Malcolm's experience in Mecca during pilgrimage is a fascinating experience,especially 4 Muslim readers, it's amazing how we Muslims take lots of things 4 granted.

Haley's description of Malcolm after Hajj is interesting, and althou this was a turning point 4 Malcolm X 4 many reasons, but some like 2 focus & promote the idea that Malcolm changed drastically after leaving NOI and after Hajj in 1964, which suggest that the last year of Malcolm's life (64-65) is the only important/significant year, which is not true @ all.. all speeches/interviews/letters/writings/meetings of Malcolm are relevant,important and inspirational..


For people who don't have time to read the book, u can watch Malcolm's speeches/interviews/documentaries on this Utube channel:


And u can also read extractions/quotes of Malcolm's speeches -in addition 2 that of other inspiring Black leaders- on this website


Learning abt Malcolm X is a MUST.. don't miss this opportunity..


I find myself incapable of describing how I feel exactly abt this man and wat I think of his legacy, words can't describe my love,respect, fascination, gratitude and appreciation for this man..

Brother Malcolm, u r hugely missed, May you rest in peace/power..
( )
  Samar.Abd-Allah | Feb 27, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Malcolm Xprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haley, Alexsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, OssiePost-scriptsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Handler, M. S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sükösd MihályTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345350685, Paperback)

Malcolm X's searing memoir belongs on the small shelf of great autobiographies. The reasons are many: the blistering honesty with which he recounts his transformation from a bitter, self-destructive petty criminal into an articulate political activist, the continued relevance of his militant analysis of white racism, and his emphasis on self-respect and self-help for African Americans. And there's the vividness with which he depicts black popular culture--try as he might to criticize those lindy hops at Boston's Roseland dance hall from the perspective of his Muslim faith, he can't help but make them sound pretty wonderful. These are but a few examples. The Autobiography of Malcolm X limns an archetypal journey from ignorance and despair to knowledge and spiritual awakening. When Malcolm tells coauthor Alex Haley, "People don't realize how a man's whole life can be changed by one book," he voices the central belief underpinning every attempt to set down a personal story as an example for others. Although many believe his ethic was directly opposed to Martin Luther King Jr.'s during the civil rights struggle of the '60s, the two were not so different. Malcolm may have displayed a most un-Christian distaste for loving his enemies, but he understood with King that love of God and love of self are the necessary first steps on the road to freedom. --Wendy Smith

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:06 -0400)

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The Black leader discusses his political philosophy and reveals details of his life, shedding light on the ideas that enabled him to gain the allegiance of a still growing percentage of the Black population.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141185430, 0141032723

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