Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Time for Martyrs: Life of Malcolm X

Aretha, David.  A Time for Martyrs: Life of Malcolm X.  Morgan Reynolds  2013  144p  $28.95  ISBN 978-159935328-9  ms/hs  series: Civil Rights Leaders  Biography  VG-BN

Many books on Malcolm X present only Malcolm’s extreme viewpoints about the black experience in America and how he believed it should change.  This book goes beyond the rhetoric and looks at the events that impacted him at an early age, including his years in prison, how he was influenced by the people he met there, and the books he read while incarcerated.  The author demonstrates that Malcolm X was constantly a work in progress, willing to change as he matured and became exposed to ideas not always in alignment with his preconceptions.  Numerous primary-source quotes and photographs give today’s readers insight into the turbulent era of the 1950’s and 1960’s.  The author does not shy away from the controversial personality that was Malcolm Little.  Descriptions of his life in the Nation of Islam and his split from the group portray a man of strong beliefs.  This is a must-have book for young readers, to show them that the African-American community was not all of one mind during the civil-rights era in regard to the changes society needed to make.  With Malcolm X espousing tactics that were diametrically opposed to those being presented by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he created quite a commotion among blacks as well as whites.  The last chapter notes his influence on contemporary rap artists as well as on the larger black community. 

This book is part of the series Civil Rights Leaders, which recently has added titles. Each book contains photographs, primary-source materials, a timeline, source notes, lists of resources for further reading and an index.  Each one offers a concise biography that highlights an important figure in the American civil rights movement.

Summary: This biography provides background on the times in which Malcolm X lived as well as facts about this life.  More importantly, readers glimpse the events that helped shape his beliefs, and come away feeling that they know the man behind the image. Grades 6-12.

Malcolm X, Civil Rights Movement                      --Lois McNicol

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