Malcolm X: A Life Of Reinvention by Manning Marable
This was my second book of 2012. I picked it for a couple of reasons. 1) I’ve recently by chance caught the TV-edited version of X (the Spike Lee Malcolm X movie) several times in the last six months. I figured I should read a proper biography because I don’t want Spike Lee’s interpretation to be the only version I know. 2) As an archivist, I am a complete sucker for any nonfiction book that touts researching using NEVER-BEFORE SEEN ARCHIVAL RESOURCES. And this one has that in spades- Marable was able to access some of the NOI archives which had never been accessed by anyone ever. (Sidenote: After the Hon. Elijah Muhammed died in 1975- the NOI destroyed their archival history that did not fit with their new narrative of the NOI under the new leadership.) 3) As some of you may or may-not know I am processing a collection of an African-American poet who was active from the 1960s up until today- and reading the biography felt like a nice supplement to work.
This book was a finalist for the National Book Award. And I can see why. It was very well written by Marable. None of that really dense dry writing that most historians tend to get bogged down by. The book managed to be full of facts but a very easy narrative to read. The mere fact that I managed to keep people straight even though they had multiple names shows this.
Frankly, I didn’t know much of Malcolm X besides the rhetoric of the earlier part of his character and his assassination. This filled up a tremendous gap in my history knowledge and also I as a former religious studies minor (in college ages ago) really enjoyed reading about the development of a religious sect.