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1st edition (Grove Press)

The Autobiography of Malcolm X (ISBN 0-345-35068-5) was written by Alex Haley between 1964 and 1965, as told to him through conversations with Malcolm conducted shortly before Malcolm X's death (and with an epilogue after it), and published in 1965. The book was named by Time magazine as one of the most important nonfiction books of the 20th century.[1]

The book describes Malcolm X's upbringing in Michigan, his maturation to adulthood in Boston and New York, his time in prison, his conversion to Islam, his ministry, his travels to Africa and to Mecca, and his subsequent career and eventual assassination at the Audubon Ballroom near 166th Street and Broadway in New York City. The book contains a substantial amount of thought concerning African-American existence.

Haley stated in the documentary Eyes on the Prize that it was difficult to write the autobiography because Malcolm X was quite averse to talking about himself and preferred instead to talk about the Nation of Islam.[2]

There are exaggerations and inaccuracies in the book, some of which were acknowledged by Haley. For example, Malcolm X describes an incident in which he pointed a revolver with a single bullet to his head in front of his criminal cohorts and repeatedly pulled the trigger in order to show them he was not afraid to die. In the epilogue, Haley writes that when Malcolm was proof-reading the manuscript he told Haley that he had palmed the bullet and staged the act in order to scare the others into obedience.

The screenplay for the 1992 Spike Lee film Malcolm X was adapted from The Autobiography of Malcolm X.[3]

In 2005 historian Manning Marable claimed that, prior to writing the book with Malcolm X, Haley and another author had collaborated with the FBI to write an article that offered misleading criticisms of Malcolm and the Nation of Islam.[4][5]

See also


  1. ^ Required Reading: Nonfiction Books
  2. ^ Eyes on the Prize - Transcript
  3. ^ Bernard Weinraub, A Movie Producer Remembers The Human Side of Malcolm X, The New York Times, November 23, 1992, Accessed June 18, 2008.
  4. ^ Democracy Now: Interview with Manning Marable
  5. ^ Democracy Now: Interview with Manning Marable

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