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Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic..., 29 Dec. 2009
This review is from: The Autobiography of Malcolm X (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This is a fantastic book charting the life of one the twentieth century's most inspirational men. Forced by a racist society to stifle his inherent intelligence, the young Malcolm Little turns instead to a life of vice and crime. In vivid detail, we are taken through the highs and lows of that life: the drug-dealing, pimping, gambling, hustling and violence to mention only some. Sentenced to a stretch in prison, he discovers the power of books and the knowledge which reading can bring, spending many nights acquiring a self-education - poring over texts by a crack of light through his cell door. Converted to the radical racial cult the Nation of Islam, Maloclm X's passion and sincerity - as well as his charisma and eloquence - soon win him pride of place in the organisation and he finds himself one of its key spokespeople. He spends the next few years unequivocally and fearlessly speaking the truth as he sees it, making the "white man" squirm as he uses his greatest weapon - his tongue - across various public medium to defend the rights and basic humanity of his "black brethren". But the ultra-racist ideology of the Nation cannot satisfy Malcolm's incisive intelligence and it fails to square up to the reality he experiences. In a beautiful finale, Malcolm - whilst facing a spiritual crisis - comes full circle during his Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca which proves to be another metamorphosis for this spiritual butterfly. In a very poignant chapter, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabbaz, as he henceforth becomes known, discovers the egalitarian ethos of mainstream Islam and learns to live with the "white man" as his brother, completely transforming his world-view. Yet true to form, he refuses to baulk or hold back on speaking the truth as he sees it, knowing full well that his old comrades at the Nation will hunt him down to the death. And so it was, on 21 February 1965, this great man met his end at the hands of those he helped bring forth from the dust.

Inspirational lessons, amazing courage, a great story fantastically well-told (this is technically not an autobiography as it was dictated to Alex Haley who did a great job writing up the notes as a flowing, riveting text), and detailed history of the mid-century American black civil rights struggle, this is one book really not worth missing. It will open your eyes in more ways than one - I can pretty much vouch for that!
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