The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Through a life of passion and struggle, Malcolm X became one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century. In this riveting account, he tells of his journey from a prison cell to Mecca, describing his transition from hoodlum to Muslim minister. Here, the man who called himself "the angriest Black man in America" relates how his conversion to true Islam helped him co...

Title:The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0345350685
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:466 pages

The Autobiography of Malcolm X Reviews

  • Wes Morgan

    This is the life story of Malcolm Little, later Malcolm X, later El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. As are most white people in this country, I was led to believe that Malcolm X was just an angry, militant racist who wanted to kill white people in the same way that angry, militant racists in the South want to kill black people. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    This book, more than any other I've read, opened my eyes to see how the innate racism in our country works and affects the people it is mos

    This is the life story of Malcolm Little, later Malcolm X, later El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. As are most white people in this country, I was led to believe that Malcolm X was just an angry, militant racist who wanted to kill white people in the same way that angry, militant racists in the South want to kill black people. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    This book, more than any other I've read, opened my eyes to see how the innate racism in our country works and affects the people it is most sharply targeted at: African Americans. It's one thing to understand that it exists (amazing that this is still debated) and empathize with its victims, but quite another to see it through their eyes. Malcolm X, as he points out, grew up in the "tolerant" North. His battle was not with lynch mobs and Jim Crow laws, but with the death-by-a-thousand-cuts brand of racism that, I would argue, now constitutes the mainstream dynamic between blacks and whites in this country.

    By the time he becomes a Muslim in prison, it's easy to see why he was angry (which he was) and why he fought back. The amazing thing, though, is that while the very book was being written, Malcolm X is undergoing a personal transformation that is leading him away from anger and hatred towards white people and towards a realization that it is the culture in America, and not inherent evil in white people, that creates the racism he's fighting against. This transformation costs him 12 years of his life's work, his house, his family's safety, and eventually his life.

    There are aspects of Malcolm X's philosophy that I cannot empathize with, however. His view of women, in particular, represents an ironic denial of their humanity. You almost want to scream at the pages, "How can you not see that you're viewing women the same way white people view you!?" There are also some pretty strange religious ideas held by the Black Muslims in general (such as literally believing that white people are the devil, and we know it), but Malcolm ends up moving away from these by the end of his life in favor of more orthodox Islam as practiced by the majority of the world's Muslims.

    I now believe, after having read this autobiography, that had he lived longer, Malcolm X would today be as revered as Martin Luther King, Jr. is. Ozzie Davis, Malcolm X's eulogist, said that he sometimes needed reminding that he was a man (something he suspected white people didn't need), and that Malcolm X did that for him, and for many other black people as well.

  • Isaac

    This book counts for a lot. Cornel West says that one of the deepest fears for black America is that Malcolm X was fundamentally right, that the political system here is incapable of being changed through traditional means in order to serve the black community what they are due. "What are they due?" asks the conservative... A share in the incredible wealth of the country that they have labored to build for hundreds of years, often against their own will, answers the REALIST... self-actualization

    This book counts for a lot. Cornel West says that one of the deepest fears for black America is that Malcolm X was fundamentally right, that the political system here is incapable of being changed through traditional means in order to serve the black community what they are due. "What are they due?" asks the conservative... A share in the incredible wealth of the country that they have labored to build for hundreds of years, often against their own will, answers the REALIST... self-actualization, in whatever form that may take, answers Malcolm. Malcolm X scares the hell out of people even today because of his refusal to accept the current democratic system as a way for African-Americans to address their genuine bitterness towards a country that has screwed them over time and again. He also refutes racist claims of white intellectual superiority, absorbing the whole canon of European philosophy while in prison, and responding to it with fierce criticism. And he was a busboy in some of the greatest New York clubs that ever existed. I dunno. I'm another middle class white boy in the U.S. who has absorbed from a young age dramatic pictures of black culture - mostly negative - that don't so much reflect the culture so much as reflect the fears imposed on it by the elite. Malcolm X, along with Molefi Asante, Cornel West, Ishmael Reed, Zora Neal Hurston, James Baldwin,

    ... all help to correct that skewed viewpoint.

  • Rowena

    - Malcolm X

    In High School my history syllabus covered just a few pages on African-American civil rights heroes. The majority of those pages were on Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X was barely mentioned. After reading this book I was

    - Malcolm X

    In High School my history syllabus covered just a few pages on African-American civil rights heroes. The majority of those pages were on Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X was barely mentioned. After reading this book I was perplexed! I wonder why Malcolm X hasn't been given the same respect as Dr. King; he contributed so much to the civil rights movement as well, yet my knowledge on this man was very minimal.

    How did Malcolm Little become Malcolm X aka El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz? This is what this book is all about. His transformation was remarkable especially as he spent time in foster homes and was a hustler in Detroit. He lived in an America where smart black kids were discouraged from being lawyers etc, and thus dropped out of school at young ages. It made me think for the umpteenth time just how can society malign and vilify black people, especially black men, when society itself is responsible for restricting them in the first place?

    Among the many things I admired about Malcolm X was his thirst for knowledge. He is a great advertisement for autodidactism and how effective and transformative self-education can be:

    It was hard for me to read this book and not compare Malcolm X’s philosophy to Dr. King’s. I always thought I would adhere more closely to Dr. King’s peaceful, nonviolence philosophy, but after reading this book I do agree with Malcolm X’s ideology as well. Not that I am advocating violence, but radicalness and action is sometimes needed, as are anger and indignation. As Malcolm X said, ““So early in life, I learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.” I feel there is so much to learn from both men so I won’t say I prefer one doctrine over another. At the same time I wonder, how can people not become militant and revolutionary after having experienced so much cruelty and discrimination?

    Another thing I found interesting in this autobiography was Malcolm X’s religious transformation; from having been raised Christian, to entering the Nation of Islam (NOI), he finally found his spiritual home in “mainstream” Islam. His depiction of his trip to Mecca in particular was very enlightening and a turning point in his life. His adoration of Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the NOI, was quite sad, especially as Muhammad seems to have been a bit of a weirdo. Muhammad said something along the lines of too-short women marrying tall men and vice versa is ridiculous. Also, he said that a man should ideally marry a woman half his age plus 7 years.

    Malcolm is unapologetic about his views in this book and that's what I love best about this autobiography. His writing is very candid and so informative. This is an important book for all to read. The prevalence of eurocentrism in the world is astounding and I don’t think we really realize just how established it is. Malcolm X dissected the race problem so well, I felt inspired.

  • حسام عادل

    حاولتُ أن أكتب عنه فلم أعرف..

    فقط شهدتُ بعيني كيف يرفع الإسلام بهَديْهِ المرء من أسفل سافلين إلى إنسانٍ تتفتح أمام وجهه الآفاق,وتجوب شهرته البلدان,ويضع الله له القبول والحب في الأرض..

    كيف يعيش رجل،لم يترك كبيرة ولا صغيرة من الذنب إلا وارتكبها،مناضلًا لأجل الإسلام..ثم يموت شهيدًا وهو يدافع عنه ويدعو الناس إليه في النهاية!

    رأيتُ كيف يعز الله بالإسلام..ولكننا نرتضي العزة فيما

    حاولتُ أن أكتب عنه فلم أعرف..

    فقط شهدتُ بعيني كيف يرفع الإسلام بهَديْهِ المرء من أسفل سافلين إلى إنسانٍ تتفتح أمام وجهه الآفاق,وتجوب شهرته البلدان,ويضع الله له القبول والحب في الأرض..

    كيف يعيش رجل،لم يترك كبيرة ولا صغيرة من الذنب إلا وارتكبها،مناضلًا لأجل الإسلام..ثم يموت شهيدًا وهو يدافع عنه ويدعو الناس إليه في النهاية!

    رأيتُ كيف يعز الله بالإسلام..ولكننا نرتضي العزة فيما سواه

    فما نزداد إلا ذلة!

    ارقد في سلام سيدي مالكوم إكس..

    إنك رجلٌ مسلم بألفٍ مما يعُدُّون،فلا نملك لك إلا الترحم اليوم..

    لعل الله يعيننا على تقليدك غدًا.

    حسام عادل

    12.10.2015

  • Bookdragon Sean

    The voice of Malcolm X was powerful, unbridled and simply heroic. He is one of the most quotable men of the twentieth century:

    The voice of Malcolm X was powerful, unbridled and simply heroic. He is one of the most quotable men of the twentieth century:

    One of the strongest realisations Malcolm X had was learning exactly who he was. As a political figure, his rhetoric was extraordinary. But I will get to this much later in this lengthy review, for now though looking at his childhood experience helps to understand what shaped him.

    As a young black man in America, he was a man without a sense of true identity. His African roots, though still in his blood, were far from evident in his people. The culture he existed in is comparable to a murky mirror. Very much in the vein of Franz Fannon’s

    , Malcolm realised that the black folk acted like puppets; the way they thought, and the way they behaved, was nothing short of extreme social conditioning. They were indoctrinated with this idea, this idea that the white man was better; thus, they tried to become white, by adopting white culture, rather than finding their own true sense of self. And this is exactly what he addressed in his later arguments after his lessons under Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam.

    However, some of his earlier experiences show the powers at play directly. The young Malcolm experienced it all. When at school studying history, the history of the “negro” was condensed down into a single paragraph in a Western textbook. Let me say that again, one paragraph. That’s it, an entire history of a people summarised by a few sentences. Simply put, the history of the black man, at least according to the white man here, didn’t exist until he arrived in Africa with his slave boats. He had no history before enslavement, and this is what these children were taught at school. Chinua Achebe come eat your heart out. Ignorance like this is why he wrote

    . Malcolm was later told by another teacher that he could not become a lawyer because of his skin colour. It’s these kinds of rejections that planted the seeds of anger in his heart.

    First though, before he would begin to walk his path, he would make a series of mistakes. I could hear the sorrow in his voice as I read some of the words here. When he was a very young man he broke a girl’s heart, an experience that set her on a downward spiral. You could say it ruined her life. He bought into this idea that white is better and left her for all the prestige a white partner could bring him. All in all, the young Malcolm, as he puts it, was “deaf, blind and dumb” as he walked away from a woman who clearly loved him. He would make even more mistakes as he got older. He became a hustler and a drug pusher, then later a house breaker. He was surrounded by a world of violence. Few make it to old age in such a life, so he had only two possible exists: death or prison.

    But who is to blame? I call these mistakes, but the reality of the situation is that they were merely pitfalls. When Malcolm entered prison, it was only because the situation created by the white man lead him to the cell.

    And at this moment in his life, arguable the lowest, when he sat in a prison cell bored to tears and full of rage; he realised what true power was and where he could get it: books.

    He learnt to read, and did it so often he gained his trademark glasses. After hearing the words of Elijah Muhammad, filtered through his brother’s mouth, Malcolm came to understand the evils of western society. He had become what the white man wanted him to be, so he changed rapidly. He transformed himself drastically. He learnt his full history- that of the African American and then what he could of the African. He embraced Muslim faith, slowly at first, but when he did he became incensed with the clarity it gave his mind. Christianity, for him, became nothing more than a mode of control the white man used on the blacks. It forced them to their knees and made them worship a white god. He wanted no part of it.

    When he got out of prison he quickly became one of the most important men in The Nation of Islam. He converted hundreds, and gave many speeches to the press. He was second only to their leader. He worked diligently for twelve years, and then was ungracefully thrown out.

    He didn’t. He never did. He would have died for the nation. He was forced to leave because the leader was jealous and afraid of him- even after he continued to serve him after he found out about his hypocrisy. Simply put, Malcolm put all his faith into a false bastion, twelve years of faith, and he still had the strength to carry on afterwards. He did not let it destroy him. He truly was a great man.

    But what of all his hate? Malcolm hated the white man. And from this power he drew his early success. His hate was justified, but it was very generalised. The white man committed terrible crimes in history, but it was also the general man on the street that would stick his nose up in the air and act superior on a day to day basis that would get Malcolm angry. It was out there. It kept happening, but this doesn’t mean that was all that was out there. There were genuine white people who felt as Malcolm did, and perhaps they could have helped each other. But, that being said, I’m not sure he would have been as successful had his hate been tempered at the start. As he once said:

    “So early in my life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.”

    He needed the white man to know why he hated him.

    Malcolm X did wonders for black pride in America; he did wonders for the civil rights movement despite his hatred, but the true tragedy is we will never know how much more he could have done. When he was assassinated, he was at the peak of his intellect; he was at a moment where he realised that hatred wasn’t necessarily the answer. After he became a full Muslim, in the traditional sense, after his pilgrimage to Mecca, he realised that Allah should have been his true guide not the false Elijah Mohamed. He was ready to face the world, this time himself. He was ready to throw his true heart out there. He’d learnt from his experience as The Nation’s number two Muslim, and he was going to put his ideas into practice. But he was cut short, and the world weeps. He is often criticised for his hatred, but rarely recognised for what he became in the end. We will never know how far he could have gone with his Muslim Mosque Inc group. Could he have rivalled The Nation of Islam? Could he have sped up black rights even further? We shall never know, and that is why his potential was wasted. He always knew he would die by violence, and perhaps as he grew older he would have developed even further.

    Malcolm X is a contentious figure even today, but he is a man who must be studied to be understood. Hearing his words, his anger, is not enough. We need to know where it came from and why it was born. This autobiography is honest, brutal and, above all, simply an outstanding piece of writing. There’s so much to be gained from reading this.


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