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Malcolm X

A Life of Reinvention
Written by: Manning Marable
Narrated by: G. Valmont Thomas
Length: 22 hrs and 4 mins
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, History, 2012

Years in the making, this is the definitive biography of the legendary black activist. Of the great figures in 20th-century American history, perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age 39. Through his tireless work and countless speeches, he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death, he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.

Manning Marable's new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil-rights movement in the 50s and 60s. Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination.

Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.

©2011 Manning Marable (P)2011 Penguin

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • connie
  • 14-05-11

invites further reading on Malcolm X

Whatever the demerits of the book as outlined by some very good previous reviews, for someone like me -- a white Canadian who had never looked into the life of Malcolm X any deeper than the film and excerpts from the Autobiography-- this was an engaging and informative read. Some have described it as scholarly; others dispute its scholarship. For me, it read like a novel and motivated me to learn more about Malcolm X. Don't be put off by the word "scholarly" --it's far from a snooze.

43 people found this helpful

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  • David S. Mathew
  • 14-02-18

Rebirth of a Legend

I came to this biography partly because of an article that appeared in The Atlantic a few years back. That article was, The Legacy of Malcolm X by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates is one of my favorite journalists, so when he lavishes praise on a book, I take notice. After finishing Marable‘s book and reflecting on the portrayal of Malcolm X in this book, I can tell you that Coates’ praise is definitely well earned.

Marable perfectly captures why Malcolm X remains one of the most fascinating characters in American history even today. He was full of wild contradictions, starting out as pimp and hustler, yet ending up as an iconic spiritual leader. He almost no coherent philosophy, advocating Black supremacy at one point, then turning to interracial harmony near the end of his life. But above all, Malcolm X’s life is the ultimate testament to the power of reinvention, self improvement, and fighting for causes far greater than yourself. This is one powerful book. Also, Thomas’ superb narration never skips a beat. Beyond highly recommended!

17 people found this helpful

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  • Danielle VanMolle
  • 12-12-19

A failed attempt at trying to rewrite history

Manning Marable had a hidden agenda that is made clear by the lack of evidence provided to backup the allegations of Malcolm X. Mr X was forth coming about his horrible and backwards hustling past. He never portrayed to be a big time hustler just got caught up in the street life. My guess is Manning is to far disconnected from the impoverished black youth to understand the difference. Either way this feels wrong. Mr X was a man that was open about this past so no one could use it against him as it was apart of his legacy. Marable must his missed this key eliminate of Mr X or ignored it for his own personal gain.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Nurture Learners and Able Observers
  • 15-02-13

A GIFTED STORY TELLER! YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK!

This is probably the biggest bang I ever got from a book purchase. The story is enormous! I finished the first read and had to go back and start all over again for the second read.

The book was so lifting for me on so many levels. The story of how Malcolm X protested against slavery while only switching masters to serve, and becoming a slave to a cult. Which lifted him up but would not set him free, and eventually ended his life with the idea that they owned it because they had effected it.

Slavery is insidious and colorblind. It is not about color, race, sex or culture. It is about a mind set.

Right now Americans can not own land! The Government has seized it all and rents it back to us under the banner of "property taxes", which keeps every American in economic slavery until the day they die for a roof over their head.

Malcolm was a hacker of the mind , who was able to hack into the mind set of slave / master and stand up and admit inconvenient truths. This is an ability anyone can bring under his command if he is destined to be a part of CHANGE.

He was also able to make the impossible, possible. To rise above conditions and become bigger than the agreed upon "think". And take others with him.

The brutality and para military cult of the Nation of Islam with it's brutality and enforcement as it was back then, (I understand it has improved conditions and reformed , with the exclusion of Louis Farrakhan's cult) is illustrated with the para military soldier copy of the mafia.

The self denial, self abnegation, self inflicted punishments, shunning, expulsions and other intolerance, that marks the cults that arose in this period are revealed. The stunning similarities to today's Church of Scientology, with the Nation of Islam Malcolm lived through several decades ago, are disturbing.

It is encouraging to note that the Nation of Islam has reformed and evolved with new leaders and new policies which prohibit abuse, and bank on self improvement and enlightenment, even though the Church of Scientology and Louis Farrakhan seem to be merging and encouraging one another to remain of a mind set that is as outdated as the Taliban we seek to bring forward with modern tolerance.

It is an amazing success story. One thing for sure, no matter your race sex or culture, no matter your identity, you will not be able to read this book and not come out the end of it without the deepest respect and admiration for Malcolm X.

A proud man is a lovely man. He did not doubt himself against every invitation to do just that from the entire world. That takes a hell of a lot of Integrity.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Denyse
  • 22-08-12

Fiercely bold insightful witness of a great life

Would you consider the audio edition of Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention to be better than the print version?

Better is not the right word. Complementary. Mixed media is how I read now.I buy both the audio edition and the first edition hardcover of a book when both are available. I live with the book in my ear in the car and on my walks with my Cali early morning and late night. I curl up with the hardcover when I get back in the house for a bit of each day. Audio makes it possible for me to read more of the books I want to every day. If I did not understand a section the first time, it is a pleasure to be able to back up a chapter and hear it again.Marable has researched and interviewed and served up more of Malcolm X than I ever imagined. I became as tortured and trapped as he must have felt as the end of his life approached. I shared the joy of his broadening through his travels. The respect and honor of a head of state bestowed upon him -- I was proud and glad for him. I like the other lives Marable chronicles. Men with feet of clay were hard to see in that way, but truthful. The struggles in Cuba, in South America, in Africa, in China are well depicted alongside Malcolm's life. I could not put this book down until it was done. Highly recommend to anyone who grew up in these times and remember the shock of the several assasinations. It hurt as much as if it were your father, your brother, your son shot down in their youth. 39 years old.Please read this book. Listening is great reading.

What other book might you compare Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention to and why?

The Invisible Line, The Warmth of Other Suns, the original Malcolm X Haley version, The Coldest Winter. The New Jim Crow. I like to read history or non-fiction that reads like a novel.

What does G. Valmont Thomas bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narration is engaging, full of inflection that highlight the big transitions and transformations in Malcolm's life. Well done. Returning to the audio is like returning to a the storytelling of a dear friend.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The opening prologue was eye opening. I hadn't realized Malcolm X never had a chance to read the finished manuscript. I hadn't realized Haley had a point of view that may not have been shared by Malcolm. That there were chapters eliminated and others added to the manuscript was news.The brutal killing of Malcolm's father. The horror that was his mother's life. The sad marriage Betty and Malcolm had. Very moving portrayals.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • 16-03-12

An important personality and a well-told story

This is an interesting (even fascinating) biography of a significant personality of the 1950’s and 60’s. I found that the story was well told by Manning Marable; he provided a good level of detail and the fact that he included some contrary versions of the same story added to his credibility as a researcher and his stature as a writer. I read favorable reviews of “Malcolm X” by reputable publications like The New York Times and The Economist. Neither publication cast any doubt on the quality or depth of Marable’s research – after all, he spent 10 years on this project. I read the reviews below that questioned the book’s accuracy – if you're considering this audiobook, I would take those comments with ‘a grain of salt’.

I also liked G. Valmont Thomas’ reading of the book; his tone and pacing reminded me of Samuel L. Jackson. I particularly enjoyed the reader’s addition of various accents that helped make a relatively dry subject “come alive.” Not being an expert of regional accents, I cannot comment of their accuracy, but the various accents certainly helped when I (the listener) could not see the quote marks on the page when an individual was talking or being quoted.

The previous biography I read was the much-heralded “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. The story of Jobs was very interesting, but the quality of the narration by Dylan Baker was not all that good in my opinion. Mr. Baker would have benefitted from the use of a few accents to help convey a better story.

This audiobook comes highly recommended – both for the story and for the narration. I would recommend “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” to anyone with an open mind who’s willing to learn about an important person and significant events in the USA from 50-60 years ago.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Sean Garton
  • 13-06-19

Disappointed

I could not even make it past the first hour. I listen to a lot of biographical books. I was disappointed from the start. There was no emotion from the narrator, and the story seemed to jump and was hard to follow.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kellie
  • 19-04-17

Exvellent Body of Work

It held my attention to navigate the highs and the lows of Brother Malcolm. The time and effort of this body of work is outstanding. it was worth the hours of listening to gain understanding.

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  • Kevin L. Neely
  • 29-08-18

Garbage, total Trash

This book is obviously a unauthorized biography and its sole purpose is to diminish Malcolm's character, repeatedly calling him a liar, and deceptive. The author himself is attempting to reinvent Malcolm when the fact of the matter is Malcolm died for truth and placed his life in jeopardy time after time for his people and against injustice. Please do not buy this trash I deleted it from my library, garbage!

21 people found this helpful

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  • wayne goldman
  • 01-08-18

the rise and fall of Malcolm X but missing ....

depicted his rise in the Nation of Islam and his fall from the Nation.
Disappointed that some details of programs in neighborhoods such as food programs and educational programs were not discussed. Also his involvement in the Black Panther movement was not discussed.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-12-19

Riveting and compelling

A very informative book. Has a perfect balance of fact and pace.
I really enjoyed listening to this and have learned a great deal about Malcom and the turbulent time that he lived in.
I’d recommend this book largely for the passion and delivery of the narrator. One of the most eloquently read I’ve listened to so far.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Tino Bvunzawabaya
  • 20-06-20

Critical Diagnosis of Malcom X

This book provides an outlook on Malcom X that his autobiography wouldn't be able to do. By being an outside observer and collecting other sources on Malcom X the writer provides a holistic view of the leader.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Moses Phiri
  • 10-04-20

Inspirational and epic

A true holistic view on a life of a legend and Morden icon. His life is one of a visionary and a his words prophetic.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mr Richard L Edwards
  • 04-07-20

Good

Great book but very long. Got a little bored towards the end but worth a read.

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  • Maurizio G.
  • 13-06-20

Interesting

The story (to me unknown til now) is interesting and really well presented. It is a long book but we'll describes the troubles of the American society back then.