Top positive review
28 of 29 people found this helpful
This book has forever changed the way I perceive.
on 7 September 2000
...The Autobiography of Malcolm X captured my attention and interest right away from the first page and held tight throughout the remainder. The depiction of the Klansmen at the beginning of chapter one started the book off on a serious note that laid the foundation for Malcolm's life. Being a teenager, the first handful of chapters was understandably the most entertaining to read. From them, I drew out the learning processes, the experiences, and the obstacles that Malcolm inevitably had to overcome in his transition from childhood to early adulthood. I then stocked them deep within to facilitate my own maturity process. From these chapters, I acquired a greater understanding of the Afro-American way of life and a better-informed picture of American society from a teenager's perspective. These chapters engendered excitement, suspense, and a great deal of reality and truth in Malcolm's encounters with guns, drugs, and prostitution. They were presented in a very straightforward way, and were not marred with many unbelievable ridiculous exaggerations. Every word was to be believed, every word could have been believed, and everything should have been believed.
The book's primary motif of race relations cast its shadow upon every paragraph, and gradually became more involved in Malcolm's life as he proceeded into adulthood. In the middle portion of the book, Malcolm took a dramatic fall as he dropped to the lowest state of society in prison. Faced with a fork in the road, Malcolm strived for the best as he painfully resumed his education. The middle chapters were the most inspiring to read for me as a student. I certainly could relate to the processes of learning how to read and write, but never the way Malcolm went about accomplishing them. Simply put, he did it the hard way. Starting with the first page of a dictionary and blindly copying, Malcolm regained the properties of letters and words. His better-educated vocabulary led to the comprehension of ideas through words. Then books were read to facilitate the process. This snowball effect opened Malcolm's mind and understanding to the real race issue. Through this newly gained knowledge, he finally was able to understand why different people acted the way they did as well as how they went about doing so.
The last portion of the book was to me the most educational. I was for the first time introduced to Islam, a religion I was not familiar with. I also learned that with fame came sacrifices, the loss of a private life, and great jealousy. I truly believed Malcolm when he said that he believed in The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the spiritual leader of The Nation of Islam, more than he believed in himself. From that point on, the world was now seen and described through the eyes of a mature adult. I read with bewilderment as Malcolm depicted his every step in building up the Nation of Islam into a life saving organization for the Black masses in American. I shared his joy when he made the pilgrimage to Mecca and made acquaintances with world leaders and people of importance. I believed he made the best judgment of his life when he reshaped his beliefs in racial status and racial discrimination. As I neared the end of Malcolm's life, he was in the unimaginable position of facing his inevitable violent death. Great fame coupled by his celebrity status had caused tremendous hate and jealousy in the organization. The last couple of chapters really taught me something about human nature. Imagine going to sleep at night while knowing the names of the assailants hired to kill you! Furthermore, imagine if they were the same faithful students you preached to get them back on their feet in society! It was almost inconceivable. Malcolm nevertheless spent his numbered days preaching and speaking to the Afro-American population, and spreading Black pride to every corner of the world. He was brutally murdered February 21, 1965 at three o'clock in the afternoon while making his last speech in New York, with his family present. As a reader I was downhearted, but at the same time relieved that he died fighting for his people and their human rights.
I feel this has been the single most influential literary piece of work I have ever encountered. I never could have guessed that this random pick for a summer reading assignment could influence me so much, and ultimately change the way I perceive.