On the side of my people : a religious life of Malcolm X /

Main Author: DeCaro, Louis A., 1957-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : New York University, c1996.
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Review by Choice Review

DeCaro has written the first significant account of Malcolm X's religious life, filling in the details of his conversion experiences given in The Autobiography of Malcolm X (CH, Jan'66). Through interviews with Malcolm's oldest brother, Wilfred, DeCaro points out how their father, Baptist minister Earl Little, had thoroughly socialized his children in the black nationalism of Marcus Garvey. Even through his wandering years as "Detroit Red," street hustler, pimp, and petty thief, Malcolm and his siblings had already been prepared to accept a religion that proclaimed God was a black man, Master Fard Muhammad, and that another black man, Elijah Muhammad, was his messenger. DeCaro strongly emphasizes Malcolm's first conversion experience in prison, a primal religious experience constituting the real turning point in Malcolm's life. His later reversion to Sunni Islam was but an evolutionary development. Making liberal use of the autobiography, DeCaro is able to capture the excitement and flow of Malcolm's story while adding his own insights and interview materials. Not a social scientist, DeCaro compounds the earlier errors of insisting that the Nation of Islam is a "cult," despite that group's having survived the deaths of several charismatic leaders to become the most enduring of the black militant religious movements. This readable book has several photographs of Malcolm, an annotated bibliography, and extensive notes. It should appeal to those who enjoyed Malcolm's autobiography. Highly recommended. Undergraduate; graduate; faculty; general. L. H. Mamiya; Vassar College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

A book that will surely find its way onto every short list of indispensable sources for understanding the life and work of Malcolm X. The religious dimension of Malcolm X is rightly emphasized, and in this respect, the book is an important addition to James Cone's groundbreaking Martin & Malcolm & America (1991). But it is also important for the clarity with which it presents Malcolm's Garveyite roots and internationalist perspective, both factors that owe more to his family than to the Nation of Islam. Those roots help explain Malcolm's development toward Sunni orthodoxy in the context of his pan-African commitment. Attending to them should help correct the provincial interpretation to which Malcolm has so often been subjected--by both detractors and admirers. DeCaro carefully traces Malcolm's spiritual development from the Garveyite teaching of his parents and pluralist religious toleration of his mother through his involvement with the cultic and exclusive Nation of Islam to his full embrace of Orthodox Islam before, during, and after his pilgrimage to Mecca. The whole life, as DeCaro reads it, is one of Islam, a submission that is marked by continuous conversion. DeCaro's work is scholarly and thorough, but it is also accessible; it will deepen both the popular and scholarly appreciation of Malcolm X and his contribution to the unfinished work of human liberation. --Steve Schroeder

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Until recently, general ignorance about Islam has been a limiting factor in both preparing and reading accounts of the Nation of Islam (NOI) and of Malcolm X, who was the chief spokesman for NOI founder Elijah Muhammad until late 1963; but things have changed of late, and this book makes good use of those changes. By the time of his assassination in February 1965, Malcolm X had himself become the most prominent spokesperson for black nationalism. DeCaro, in his first book, has produced a groundbreaking study of Malcolm's relationship to Islam as a religion. Included as well is an account of the often contentious interaction between NOI and more orthodox Islamic groups, as well as a revealing account of early Islamic evangelism in African American communities. This is the best, most thorough account we have of Malcolm X as a religious leader. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Malcolm X (1925-65), one of the most controversial and influential African American leaders of this century, rose from street hustler and convict to become the most outspoken minister in the Nation of Islam and the black community. In this replay of the famous Muslim's life, DeCaro, a religious educator and freelance writer, reflects on the spiritual side of the late martyr and critiques his autobiography. He details Malcolm's early life and spiritual training, his ministry, his pilgrimage to Mecca, and his relationship with his mentor, Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Black Muslims. He also presents a brief history of the Nation, rooted in black nationalism, the belief in a separate black state. For another perspective on Malcolm X's religious life, see James Cone's Martin and Malcolm and America (Orbis, 1991). This is a good refresher course but not a necessary purchase; suitable for religion collections and for those with an abiding interest in Malcolm X.¬ĎAnn Burns, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.