Sunday, April 3, 2011

More on Manning Marable and His New Biography of Malcolm X

Mary Dudziak earlier noted the passing of the prolific scholar, Manning Marable. The New York Times published an obit and related article that discussed Marable's new biography of Malcolm X, due for release tomorrow. The obit is available here. The opening paragraphs of the article summarize some of the biography's claims and suggest the book's importance to historians, particularly, scholars of the civil rights era:

The book challenges both popular and scholarly portrayals of Malcolm X, the black nationalist leader, describing a man often subject to doubts about theology, politics and other matters, quite different from the figure of unswerving moral certitude that became an enduring symbol of African-American pride.

It is particularly critical of the celebrated “Autobiography of Malcolm X,” now a staple of college reading lists, which was written with Alex Haley and which Mr. Marable described as “fictive.” Drawing on diaries, private correspondence and surveillance records to a much greater extent than previous biographies, his book also suggests that the New York City Police Department and the F.B.I. had advance knowledge of Malcolm X’s assassination but allowed it to happen and then deliberately bungled the investigation.

The full article is available here. And for an unmediated experience of Marable's subject, see Malcolm X's famous commentary at the Oxford Union in 1964, here.