Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, by Manning Marable

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

Written by Manning Marable, Narrated by G. Valmont Thomas

Reason for Reading: This was one of the books I’d listed as potential reading for my Social Justice Theme Read in February. I chose it because it won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2012 and was a finalist in the National Book Award.

In Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, Manning Marable set out to honestly portray a man and to humanize an icon. Marable intended on filling in holes left by truth-bending and necessary lack-of-future-knowledge in The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Since I am not an expert on the subject, I have to say that Marable’s book seemed very thorough and well-researched. It was also an engrossing narrative. I feel it well-deserves its Pulitzer Prize. My only complaint was towards the beginning of the novel, Marable inserted some innuendo about Malcolm X’s sexuality – which was unnecessary, and rather rude since he didn’t have any hard evidence to support his claims. That innuendo was referenced obliquely a few times in the first quarter of the book. Luckily, those references stopped for the last three quarters of the book, or I would have been left with a very bad taste in my mouth.

The only reason I bring up that complaint is because I was looking for hints to why there’s a controversy about this book. I was wondering if there was anything I, personally, could pick up. I’m not very familiar with what the controversy is about – and I haven’t seen any controversial reference to the innuendo that bothered me. Mostly, the controversy seems to be about Marable’s lack of respect for the impact Malcolm X had on the Black Liberation Movement. If you’re interested, here’s an interesting article on the topic. There’s also a book entitled A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X, if you really want to delve into the issue. However, I am satisfied that Marable did a lot of really good research, and wrote an interesting and informative book. The issue of exactly what long-term impact Malcolm X had on the Civil Rights Movement and the country as a whole is an opinion, in my opinion. 

G. Valmont Thomas did an excellent job of narrating this book. Quite enjoyable. 🙂

6 thoughts on “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, by Manning Marable

  1. I have heard about this book as well as a little bit about the controversy surrounding it. I also do not have enough knowledge to have a real opinion.

    I really want to read this as obviously the man played a vital role in history and shaping the world.

    Thanks for the review, the book itself sounds fantastic.


  2. The Autobiography of Malcolm X has been on our shelves for as long as I can remember though I'm ashamed to say I've never read it. Perhaps a better choice for me than the book you mention, I will get around to reading it sometime.


  3. I haven't read The Autobiography, but I'm thinking it will be more personally powerful, whereas this biography is more educational. I'll certainly supplement this book with the Autobiography this year.


  4. He is a fascinating man. He started out one way but after Mecca and his conversion to Islam he had what I'd call a soul colonic. All of that ugliness and hate was washed away. Him and Martin Luther King didn't always see eye to eye, but the respect and love they had for one another was evident long after their sad and unnecessary assassinations.
    I'm so fascinated by his life and have been looking for a good and TRUE book about him. I know that's hard to find. Controversial figures always have lies and what not swirling around tainting the truth. Even if the truth is not kind I'd rather know it.
    Awesome book to review! Thanks for that. Ok, I will not post anymore comments tonight..lolz..I will continue “blog stalking” though 🙂


  5. I don't know if you should avoid this book just because of the controversy. I imagine this is one of the best books you'll find on him. But if you're interested in truth, clearly you'll have to look into the reasons for the controversy as well (i.e. read A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable's Malcolm X and make your own conclusions). As you say, you're never going to find a book that has undisputed truth about a man like Malcolm X.


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