The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley

by Malcolm X

Paperback, 1992



Call number



Ballantine Books (1987), Edition: Reissue, 460 pages


Biography & Autobiography. Religion & Spirituality. African American Nonfiction. Nonfiction. HTML: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 on the lies and limitations of the American Dream, and the inherent racism in a society that denies its nonwhite citizens the opportunity to dream, gives extraordinary insight into the most urgent issues of our own time. The Autobiography of Malcolm X stands as the definitive statement of a movement and a man whose work was never completed but whose message is timeless. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand America. Praise for The Autobiography of Malcolm X “Extraordinary . . . a brilliant, painful, important book.”—The New York Times “This book will have a permanent place in the literature of the Afro-American struggle.”—I. F. Stone.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member TirzahLaughs
A fascinating biography of a complicated man. What I always enjoyed about his biography was how is showed that Malcolm X changed as a person. Constantly learning, constantly trying to understand where he fit in the world as a black man, Malcolm was never satisfied to just accept the world. He went
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out an met it half way. Sometimes, it was violent and dangerous. Sometimes, he found peace. Although, the ending wasn't exactly written the way that I would have liked, it is one of my favorite biographies.
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LibraryThing member the.ken.petersen
This is the most significant book that I have read this year. One could say that it is a disgrace that it has taken me 50 years to get around to so doing, but a decent distance adds to the value of this work.

I cannot agree with Malcolm X's proposed solution to black oppression: segregation and an
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independent black power base, but I can understand why he should believe this. Indeed, were I to have come from such a downtrodden group, it is entirely plausible that I would have been more aggressive than Malcolm.

I think that, had he lived longer, Malcolm X may well have further revised his beliefs. The idea that all black people are like this, whilst all white people are like that, is obviously nonsense and the idea that racism only exists between black and white is just as untrue. Following his trip to the Hajj, he had pulled back on the all whites are evil argument but, this biography gives plenty of reasons as to why he should have originally held that view. One of the things that I found fascinating, and I would love to be able to discuss with 'X', is his attitude to women. It always intrigues me to see how an oppressed group can so clearly see the wrong done to them, but fail to see the error in their view of others. Malcolm X's opinion of women was pretty bad, even allowing for the fact that society in general had a less respectful attitude to the female position in society.

The book is a real eye opener as to how many non-white groups, both within and outside America, look upon the century's master race. The UK, too, is not without guilt in this area and if every white person were to read this, without necessarily agreeing, but at least accepting, that these views represent a sizable body of opinion, we would all be wiser.

Finally, a quote, from the book, which very few will expect to have come from the mouth of Malcolm X:

Men are attracted by spirit. By power, men are forced. Love is engendered by spirit. By power, anxieties are created.

Doesn't sound like the world's most dangerous man, does it?
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LibraryThing member foof2you
What a powerful and very emotional read. Alex Haley takes the reader inside the life of Malcolm X. One can only wonder what type of leader Malcolm X would have become and if alive today what would he say about the current state of affairs. The changes that Malcolm was making in his life one can
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only imagine where is life would take him.
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LibraryThing member GaylDasherSmith
A student recommended this (thanks, Alex). I never before felt I knew this complex man. What a fascinating life! Lindy-hop, who knew?
LibraryThing member kidrah
I read this back in 12th grade, and it was one of those books that added a whole new "life experience" in my catalog of life experiences. Then, I saw the movie afterwards, and it hits as hard as the book.
LibraryThing member macktan894
It's more likely than not that most people remember this book because of the movie by Spike Lee, with Denzel Washington playing X. And it's a brilliant movie (when it was announced that Lee would be directing, I had my doubts; now it is one of my favorite films of all times).

The book is equally
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engaging, written by Alex Haley (author of Roots)for Malcom X. Even though Haley did the writing, the voice is definitely Malcom's, which is the brilliance of Haley as writer. As a work of creative non-fiction (but there is little to be creative about as Malcom's life was incredible), it is up there with the best of them (Capote, Mailer, Talese). This is a writing process I would have loved to witness.

The book will hook you immediately with dramatic scenes of Malcom's origins, his transition into criminality, his spiritual growth with the Nation of Islam. Problem with Malcom (for others), he never stopped growing to the displeasure of cohorts whose envy of him became pathological. Combine that with the zeal of the FBI and you have an assasination ladies and gentlemen. Dead so young and at the apex of his understanding and focus. What would the world have been like if Malcom X had lived?
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LibraryThing member BlackMike
This is the most engaging book I've read in years. Even with the well-foregone tragedy of his assassination just prior to the completion of this book, it is a realistic yet almost unbelievable story of optimism, vision, and courage. X, as far as I have ever known, is downplayed as an impinging
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chastiser in the 1960s' struggle for civil rights, a radical extreme of Dr.King's seemingly centrist ideals. This book makes progress in expanding that decade for those of us who know it only from the image-media and high school textbooks. X's autobiography, more than anything, put me inside the mind of a zealot and a charismatic, helping me to understand the power of personality with a set of good brains to back it up. Simply put, if you have any intentions of actually fomenting a revolution, your attempts will be hobbled for not having read this book.
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LibraryThing member cestovatela
This is a side of the Civil Rights Movement we don't learn about in school. It goes without saying that I admire MLK, but I think I admire Malcolm X even more -- the way he used prison to better himself, his belief in the value of education, and his courage in admitting publicly that he was wrong.
LibraryThing member EmScape
Everyone, regardless or race, should read this book. Growing up in public schools, I don't think Americans are educated enough on the lives of important leaders in civil rights. I really don't even think I was away how very short a time ago it was that this racist culture was prevalent. I know that
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I am woefully unaware of racial struggles of the past and today, as of course in some parts of the country, not a lot has changed.
Malcolm X brought that struggle to the attention of all the people of his era, even when other black leaders were going with the flow. Much of the progress that has been made in the last 30 odd years is due to him. He is an important figure in American history, and his autobiography is entertaining to read as well as educational. You can tell that he is very much trying to tell the truth about himself and not gloss over the unsavory parts, as well as refrain from making himself out to be a bigger hero than he is. A person could learn a lot from Malcolm X.
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LibraryThing member jddunn
Another in an ongoing series of American readings, wherein I'm trying to get a better overall picture of my country's character and history. An impressive and inspiring story of a man who dragged himself up from nothing against great odds; a man of astounding will, personality, integrity, and
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intelligence, all of which were severely stunted by the society he lived in. It’s also a good look into the kinds of conditions that foster and perhaps even justify radicalism.

I can at least understand, if not necessarily condone, his divergence from King and the integrationist / civil rights movement after reading about what he and his family / friends went through as black Americans. I can see how one could come to the conclusions that he did, given his harrowing experience, even if I don’t agree in the end. Of course, neither did he, in the end. It’s too bad he didn’t live to finish his evolution as Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. It would have been a great ending to an already inspiring and gripping story.
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LibraryThing member heinous-eli
This work ought to be required reading for every American. Well-written, tightly-paced, and surprisingly prophetic, it's like having a conversation with one of the most important individuals of the Civil Rights movement.
LibraryThing member tracyjayhawk
Malcolm X's entertaining and revealing memoirs. Like Moody's "Coming of Age in Mississippi" and Wright's "Black Boy," Malcolm X describes the struggles facing African Americans in the 1930's through the 1960's. Malcolm X though, one feels, doesn't try to hide behind his reasons though, telling
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about his crime spree, drug use, prison sentence, religious conversions, his mother's breakdown, the dissolution of his family, and his ouster from the Nation of Islam. Powerful, and yet not wholly accurate: I found a copy of his police record that indicates he was arrested and served time previous to any indication of such in the book.
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LibraryThing member providencia
This autobiography was a catalyst for change in my life. When he describes his life as Malcolm Little it is without rose-tinted glasses. He does not hide or deny the type of man he was. He does not work with a discontinuous mind when talking about himself past or present (as the book was written
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during his lifetime). He is as truthful as he can be, with the hopes that his story will benefit someone on their journey. In my case, it has.

I keep this on the same shelf as:
'Twelve Years a Slave' by Solomon Northup
'N*gg*r: An Autobiography' by Dick Gregory with Robert Lipsyte
'The Souls of Black Folks' by W. E. B. DuBois.
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LibraryThing member stipe168
inspiring is too simple of a word.. not only does this story deliver hope of making it out of any slums you get yourself into... it's more the powerful speech of malcolm that really chills you down to the spine. a real "stand up for your damn self" guy. coolest mofo around
LibraryThing member alexgalindo
One of the most powerful pieces of literature I've read. Alex Haley helps us understand this figure of resistance as a man of uncompromising principle, and love. The Autobiography of Malcolm X must be read by anyone serious about understanding the dynamics of the Civil Rights movement in the U.S.
LibraryThing member doowatt34
An autobiographical piece based on the life and times of one of the best heroes, outstanding orators, classey spiritual leader, world dissendent, American has ever produced. This should be required reading for every child. Great informational work, par excellance....
LibraryThing member kewpie
Malcolm X was an amazing person. I don't think anyone can read his autobiography without getting something meaningful out of it. One of my favorite chapters was the Haj, (The trip to Mecca) He was very emotional and it changed his outlook on life. It was a shame he was assassinated so soon after
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his trip. I wonder what the world would have looked like had he lived.

Fascinating look at one of the most influential men in one of the most turbulent times in America.
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LibraryThing member Joles
An important book to read, I did not particularly enjoy it. I had to read it for a college class on US Religion. It was powerful but the writing didn't hold my interest.
LibraryThing member PigOfHappiness
A highly interesting and enlightening read. Thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the civil rights movement or the mysteries surrounding Malcolm X. Appropriate for college aged and beyond.
LibraryThing member poetontheone
The autobiography of Malcolm X is an enlightening and moving journey into the mind of one of the most enigmatic and spectacular individuals in American history. The tale of his transformation from hustler to martyr is awe inspiring. The work is a testament ot the power of the human spirit that
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should be required reading at high schools across the United States.
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LibraryThing member jcarter4
The Autobiography of Malcolm X is a powerful story and compelling background of one of the greatest African American heroes in history Malcolm X. Throughout the book he talks about the effects of racism throughout the 1930’s to 1960’s. Within the story of living in a racist America, Malcolm X
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recalls a drastic background of drugs, crime, and prison. Starting as a young child Malcolm X, or Malcolm Little at the time, was born in a racist town of Omaha, Nebraska. When he was in middle school him and his family with 7 other brothers and sisters eventually moved to Lansing, Michigan. In Lansing is where Malcolm first discovered his bad side during the tender years of junior high. During his rocky road of moving from living in a home with his family, the murder of his father, and his mom being put into a psychiatric hospital Malcolm is forced to move with his sister Ella in Boston, Massachusetts. There is where he finds his lifestyle of crime and drugs. All of which made him the incredible leader he had progressed to become. His life story showed the triumph that can come from what may seem to be unbearable circumstances. The book reveals how Malcolm X was eventually converted to an Islamic leader and how this changed his ways forever. By the end of the story a person can see how the book illustrated how foreshadowing, transformation, and oppression were used to reveal Malcolm X’s true character and destiny.
In conclusion, all the elements in Malcolm’s story created one of the great African-American heroes that ever lived. By the end of his transformation Malcolm X had become a great leader not only for teaching the word of Islam, but also encouraging black people to take a stand against racism. Malcolm X gave powerful speech and carried on even after his leader Elijah and fellow Islamic brothers had left him in the dust. He kept a powerful message even to newspaper who called the Islamic black racists, fascists, communists, and supremacists. Malcolm X hid the truth from no one and honesty is a trait that everyone can look up to. Unfortunately, Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21,1965 by his fellow Islamic brothers in New York City. Even though Malcolm X may not physically here The Autobiography of Malcolm X carries the truth and message he wished to deliver for generation to generation.
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LibraryThing member jhop3
This great autobiography of Malcolm's life is truly stimulating. The text takes on a journey from a petty theif to man who was unseemingly resistant to life struggles and who became a leader.
LibraryThing member Elizabeth.Michele
Very interestng read, I enjoyed it.
LibraryThing member HadriantheBlind
Story of a man's rise from the lowest depths to become a voice of righteous anger for the lowest parts of society. Brilliant.
LibraryThing member JasChristina
Outlines the revolution of a controversial Black Muslim figure from the streets to a national activist and leader . This book is good to look at how one man changed America. It can give students an insight on the history during that time, as well as highlight how they too can make a difference.

Physical description

460 p.; 6.86 inches


0345350685 / 9780345350688
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