Review of “The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X” by Les and Tamara Payne

“The most noteworthy revelation of the biography, however, concerns Malcolm X’s meeting with the Ku Klux Klan in 1961 to discuss the Nation of Islam’s shared opposition to integration and the possibility of working with the KKK to form a “separate state” for black Americans. The two-dozen pages covering this secret summit (which took place at another Nation of Islam minister’s home in Atlanta) are absolutely surreal.”

Reading the Best Biographies of All Time

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X
by Les and Tamara Payne
612 pages
Liveright (W.W. Norton)
Published: October 2020

[On June 11 “The Dead Are Arising” was awarded the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in biography]

Published last fall, “The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X” is the result of nearly three decades of work by Les Payne. Following his death in 2018 – with the manuscript nearly finished – his daughter (and primary research assistant) completed the book. Les Payne was a former U.S. Army Ranger and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and editor at Newsday.

Payne’s background as an investigative journalist will not come as a surprise to readers of this exquisitely-researched biography. Payne interviewed hundreds of people including nearly everyone he could find who knew Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little): childhood friends, classmates, cellmates, colleagues, family members and neighbors. His…

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