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Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America.

Many of the positive messages that can be gleaned from reading Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America by Bruce Perry are shot down early in this biography. The problem lies with Perry's heavy-handed attempts to psychoanalyze Malcolm X, which overshadow any attempt to bring new insight to the inner struggles of the militant Muslim leader. Perry, who is white and who also edited the book, Malcolm X: The Last Speeches, does provide fresh information some may feel tends toward gossip. This is not to say his sources were lying. The issues they raise are worth investigating and readers will ultimately draw their own conclusions.

It is the spin Perry puts on this new data that raises questions about his motivation for writing the book and the psychoanalytical conclusions he reaches. Perry appears obsessed with "dispelling myths" about Malcolm's masculinity, his sense of morality, and analyzing his troubled relationship with his mother. The result: If you do not give Perry the benefit of the doubt, you may feel he wrote the book with less than admirable intentions.

One of the weakest aspects of the biography is that it offers no new insight into Malcolm's mission after his split with the Nation of Islam. If Perry had no real idea of where Malcolm was heading, it is difficult to accept many of his psychoanalytical assertions. Thus, many black readers may put down the book feeling Malcolm's life was truly "a black thing" that Mr. Perry didn't understand.
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Author:Scott, Matthew S.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1992
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