An epic, award-winning biography of Malcolm X that draws on hundreds of hours of personal interviews and rewrites much of the known narrative.
Les Payne, the renowned Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist, embarked in 1990 on a nearly thirty-year-long quest to create an unprecedented portrait of Malcolm X, one that would separate fact from fiction. The result is this historic, National Book Award–winning biography, which interweaves previously unknown details of Malcolm X’s life—from harrowing Depression-era vignettes to a moment-by-moment retelling of the 1965 assassination—into an extraordinary account that contextualizes Malcolm X’s life against the wider currents of American history. Bookended by essays from Tamara Payne, Payne’s daughter and primary researcher, who heroically completed the biography after her father’s death in 2018, The Dead Are Arising affirms the centrality of Malcolm X to the African American freedom struggle.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Malcolm X’s story is a huge part of American history, but Les Payne felt the larger-than-life figure’s legacy was incomplete. So began the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative researcher’s nearly 30 years of study on the man born Malcolm Little, culminating in this in-depth biography, completed after Payne’s death by his daughter and chief researcher, Tamara Payne. We were stunned by the countless hours of interviews with Malcolm’s friends, family, comrades, and even cellmates that went into this incredible book. Small but vital anecdotes from his life give new depth to the image we know from Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X. In particular, the stories from his youth reveal that Malcolm’s path from small-time hustler to civil rights leader had early roots in his intensely politically active parents, who were followers of the ideas of Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey. Meticulously tracing how Malcolm’s character and beliefs evolved from childhood run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan to his subsequent meeting with the Nation of Islam founder Wallace Fard Muhammad, The Dead Are Arising gives us insights into Malcolm X we never even knew we were missing.
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.
A must read for those who want to understand the backstory of Brother Malcolm. Very insightful.
A comprehensive view of the life and times of Malcolm X
I loved this book, especially the way it is a great supplemental text to the Autobiography. Parts that weren’t included in Haley’s text show up here, giving us more insight into who Malcolm really was. I had a greater sense of his wit, more than anything else. Plus, one gets a more comprehensive view of his story in the context of his time.
The dead are arising
Excellent book. I hope this book gets on lots of required reading lists for American history courses.