The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X

Liveright: Norton. Sept. 2020. 640p. ISBN 9781631491665. $35. BIOG
This book is a monument to investigative reporting and to daughter Tamara’s devotion to her Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist father (1941–2018). Les Payne (The Life and Death of the SLA) dedicated 28 years to examining the life and death of Malcolm X (1925–65), including how he became who he was as a public and private person, and how he died as a victim of a murderous conspiracy. With meticulous day-to-day, sometimes minute-to-minute detail, Payne retraced the steps of the seventh son of Marcus Garvey adherent and itinerant preacher Earl Little, from childhood pranks to the petty hustle of drugs and street crimes who became a Black folk hero as a born-again revolutionary moralist insistent on unflinching self-respect. Gathering information from exhaustive interviews with family, friends, acquaintances, allies, and foes, and with archival research and revelations from the FBI, NYPD, and other public agencies, Payne corrects and fills gaps in Malcolm X’s 1964 autobiography with Alex Haley.
VERDICT This gripping read, essential for anyone interested in the man or his times, delivers penetrating explanations and fresh insights into previously unexamined dimensions of Malcolm X and his becoming and being El-hajj Malik El Shabazz within the context of Black life. Highest recommendation.
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