During Alex Haley’s interview sessions with Malcolm X, the then spokesman for the Nation of Islam scribbled notes on small pieces of paper. Eventually Haley would use them to form his autobiography and the basis of much of the study of his character.
The book begins with his description of his tumultuous childhood and takes the reader into his youth in Harlem’s heyday. It also places him inside the criminal underworld, in prison and finally in the center of the civil rights movement. The prose follows Malcolm X’s direct manner of speaking to ensure that readers see his life through his eyes and is gripping enough to capture both subject and environment.
Malcolm X predicted that he would not live to see its publication, a prophecy fulfilled as friction between himself and the Nation of Islam, and a subsequent falling-out culminated in his 1965 assassination. But the pages chronicling the years leading up to it reveal the world of a man who had gone from being a hustler to being one of history’s most controversial civil rights icons.