Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dear Great Book Guru,
Growing up in the '60's, I have always been fascinated by the story of Malcolm X. I read his autobiography and I've seen the Spike Lee movie" Malcolm X"; now I hear there is a controversial book that challenges many of the facts surrounding his life. Have you read this book and, if so, would you recommend it? Truth Seeker

Dear Truth Seeker, Like you, I have been fascinated by the story of Malcolm X. This weekend I was at a conference in San Diego so I had a long plane ride and many hours by the pool to read the book you mention : MALCOLM X: A LIFE OF REINVENTION. The author Manning Marable, a noted historian from Columbia University, worked for over twenty years sorting out the recorded facts of Malcolm X's life; tragically Marable died a few days before the book's publication. The picture he draws is quite different from that of the poor, uneducated ex- convict who found redemption through religion and the love of a good woman and, at the end of his life, gave up his racist views in a burst of universal love. No- Marable tells us a far different story: a man who created a tawdry persona and exaggerated his criminal past to make his message more powerful- a man whose marriage was painfully unhappy- a man whose friends and family betrayed him at every turn- a brilliant international diplomat who walked and talked with kings and princes. His assassination at age thirty-nine remains clouded by mystery with suggestions of police, FBI, CIA, religious, and gang involvement. This is definitely a great read and highly recommended for its portrait of an iconic figure and a chaotic time in American history.

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