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The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X

by Les Payne

Kirkus Comprehensive, timely life of the renowned activist and his circuitous rise to prominence.Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Payne died in 2018, leaving it to his daughter, Tamara, to complete this book, on which he had been at work for 30 years. The catalyst was an introduction through a school friend to one of Malcolm Xs brothers, who told him stories of young Malcolm Little (1925-1965) in childhood. Malcolm had grown up bookish and popular, even among the white children with whom he went to school in Michigan, but he also acted out during adolescence, a trajectory that ended behind bars. (The detectives who arrested him, appreciating the fact that, as one said, He wasnt fresh at all, gave him a couple of packs of cigarettes.) While incarcerated, Malcolm experienced the intellectual reawakening that put him on the path to becoming a political activist and Muslim. Payne delivers considerable news not just in recounting unknown episodes of Malcolms early years, but also in reconstructing events during his time as a devotee of Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, in whom he believed as deeply as his parents back in Michigan had believed in Jesus of Nazareth. One instance was a meeting with the Ku Klux Klan that Malcolm brokered, finding a sole bit of common ground in the fact that both groups abhorred the notion of mixed-race marriages. Indeed, as Payne writes, for a long time, Malcolm was a committed advocate of black separatism. It was only while on a hajj to Mecca, where he saw blond-haired, blue-eyed Muslims as devoted as he was, that he abandoned his former teachings and broke with the Nation. Paynes accounts of the consequences of that rupture and Malcolms assassination at the hands of a goon squad with ties to the FBI and CIA are eye-opening, and they add a new dimension to our understanding of Malcolm Xs last years.A superb biography and an essential addition to the library of African American political engagement. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Pulitzer winner Payne (1941–2018) spent nearly 30 years researching and writing this monumental biography of human rights activist Malcolm X. Completed by his daughter and researcher, Payne’s richly detailed account is based on hundreds of interviews with Malcolm X’s family members, childhood friends, cellmates, allies, and enemies, and meticulously tracks his journey from Omaha, Neb., where he was born Malcolm Little in 1925, through his teenage pot dealing in East Lansing, Mich., and street criminal days in Boston and Harlem, to his emergence as the Nation of Islam’s “most gifted and successful proselytizer and demander of justice,” and his assassination in 1965. Along the way, Payne folds in incisive portraits of such major figures as Marcus Garvey, whose teachings on racial uplift Malcolm X’s parents followed; Moorish Science Temple leader Noble Drew Ali, whose follower, Fard Muhammad, founded the Nation of Islam; and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Payne also documents the radio dramas and jazz music Malcolm X listened to, reveals how a clandestine meeting with the Georgia Ku Klux Klan in 1961 contributed to his break from the Nation of Islam, and interviews two men wrongly imprisoned for his murder. The result is an extraordinary and essential portrait of the man behind the icon. Agent: Faith Childs. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list As renewed calls for Black liberation fill the streets and the airwaves, what better time to review the legacy of one of the most influential proponents of Black independence, Malcolm X. Based on decades of interviews with family members, classmates, and associates, this monumental new biography was Les Payne’s life work, completed by his daughter and fellow researcher Tamara after Payne’s untimely death in 2018. So what distinguishes Payne’s book from other Malcolm X biographies? Payne’s Malcolm is less a revolutionary than part of a continuum of Black struggle, beginning with Malcolm's parents and their devotion to the Black uplift of Garveyism, through the myth-making of a gloriously exotic Black ancestry found in the Moorish Science movement, a precursor to the Nation of Islam (NOI). Malcolm was not the first in his family to discover the NOI, but his gift was in braiding the mystical, the spiritual, and the political into an unbeatable movement for Black dignity, self-sufficiency, and self-defense. Malcolm's NOI became a uniquely youthful, pan-African movement for global liberation, influencing the philosophy and demands of Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael, SNCC, CORE, and others who rejected respectability politics and assimilation. That same tension, between largely white-affiliated, accommodationist Black organizations like the NAACP and the radical actions of Black Lives Matter, is part of Malcolm's legacy.

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal In 1990, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Les Payne began working on a biography of Malcolm X that aimed to set the record straight on a significant figure in 20th century history. To that end, he interviewed all of Malcolm X's living siblings, plus Nation of Islam figures, FBI moles and cops, and political leaders worldwide. Upon Payne's death, daughter Tamara completed the biography, which is framed by her essays.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Comprehensive, timely life of the renowned activist and his circuitous rise to prominence. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Payne died in 2018, leaving it to his daughter, Tamara, to complete this book, on which he had been at work for 30 years. The catalyst was an introduction through a school friend to one of Malcolm X’s brothers, who told him stories of young Malcolm Little (1925-1965) in childhood. Malcolm had grown up bookish and popular, even among the white children with whom he went to school in Michigan, but he also acted out during adolescence, a trajectory that ended behind bars. (The detectives who arrested him, appreciating the fact that, as one said, “He wasn’t fresh at all,” gave him a couple of packs of cigarettes.) While incarcerated, Malcolm experienced the intellectual reawakening that put him on the path to becoming a political activist and Muslim. Payne delivers considerable news not just in recounting unknown episodes of Malcolm’s early years, but also in reconstructing events during his time as a devotee of Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, in whom he believed “as deeply as his parents back in Michigan had believed in Jesus of Nazareth.” One instance was a meeting with the Ku Klux Klan that Malcolm brokered, finding a sole bit of common ground in the fact that both groups abhorred the notion of mixed-race marriages. Indeed, as Payne writes, for a long time, Malcolm was a committed advocate of black separatism. It was only while on a hajj to Mecca, where he saw blond-haired, blue-eyed Muslims as devoted as he was, that he abandoned his former teachings and broke with the Nation. Payne’s accounts of the consequences of that rupture and Malcolm’s assassination at the hands of a “goon squad” with ties to the FBI and CIA are eye-opening, and they add a new dimension to our understanding of Malcolm X’s last years. A superb biography and an essential addition to the library of African American political engagement. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list As renewed calls for Black liberation fill the streets and the airwaves, what better time to review the legacy of one of the most influential proponents of Black independence, Malcolm X. Based on decades of interviews with family members, classmates, and associates, this monumental new biography was Les Payne’s life work, completed by his daughter and fellow researcher Tamara after Payne’s untimely death in 2018. So what distinguishes Payne’s book from other Malcolm X biographies? Payne’s Malcolm is less a revolutionary than part of a continuum of Black struggle, beginning with Malcolm's parents and their devotion to the Black uplift of Garveyism, through the myth-making of a gloriously exotic Black ancestry found in the Moorish Science movement, a precursor to the Nation of Islam (NOI). Malcolm was not the first in his family to discover the NOI, but his gift was in braiding the mystical, the spiritual, and the political into an unbeatable movement for Black dignity, self-sufficiency, and self-defense. Malcolm's NOI became a uniquely youthful, pan-African movement for global liberation, influencing the philosophy and demands of Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael, SNCC, CORE, and others who rejected respectability politics and assimilation. That same tension, between largely white-affiliated, accommodationist Black organizations like the NAACP and the radical actions of Black Lives Matter, is part of Malcolm's legacy.

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal 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 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.—Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.