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Cover image for Malcolm X : by any means necessary : a biography
Malcolm X : by any means necessary : a biography
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic, c1993.
Physical Description:
210 p. : illustrations.
General Note:
Includes index.

Bibliography: p. 199-200.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 921 X 1 1

On Order



In this highly praised, award-winning biography, Walter Dean Myers portrays Malcolm X as prophet, dealer, convict, troublemaker, revolutionary, and voice of black militancy. A Coretta Scott King Honor Book and an ALA Notable Children's Book. Photos.

Author Notes

Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937 in Martinsberg, West Virginia. When he was three years old, his mother died and his father sent him to live with Herbert and Florence Dean in Harlem, New York. He began writing stories while in his teens. He dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Army at the age of 17. After completing his army service, he took a construction job and continued to write.

He entered and won a 1969 contest sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books for Children, which led to the publication of his first book, Where Does the Day Go? During his lifetime, he wrote more than 100 fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults. His works include Fallen Angels, Bad Boy, Darius and Twig, Scorpions, Lockdown, Sunrise Over Fallujah, Invasion, Juba!, and On a Clear Day. He also collaborated with his son Christopher, an artist, on a number of picture books for young readers including We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart and Harlem, which received a Caldecott Honor Award, as well as the teen novel Autobiography of My Dead Brother.

He was the winner of the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award for Monster, the first recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, and a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. He also won the Coretta Scott King Award for African American authors five times. He died on July 1, 2014, following a brief illness, at the age of 76.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-- Myers organizes Malcolm X's life into four stages: his childhood; his adolescence; his period of working under Elijah Mohammad; and his life after breaking with the Nation of Islam. Throughout, his experiences and actions are presented in a broader social context, from the beliefs of Marcus Garvey, who exerted such an influence upon Malcolm's parents, to the culture of adolescent black males in the 1930s and 1940s, to the contrasts between the Nation of Islam's views and those of Martin Luther King, Jr, with all the shadings in between. The author discusses the evolution in Malcolm's character, as his belief in Islam gradually taught him that not all whites were the enemies of African-Americans. He strikes a good balance between his subject's personal life and broader social issues and movements. Myers does not judge whether or not Malcolm X's views were better than those of King, but rather shows how both appealed to specific audiences and contributed to the struggles of the 1960s. Surprisingly, though, there is very little discussion of current controversies that have emerged from the two points of view. Black-and-white photographs and a reproduction of a page from Malcolm's extensive FBI file help readers to visualize the key personages and events in America's past. Myers's evenhanded approach will provoke thought and discussion among reluctant readers, who may find Jack Rummel's fact-laden Malcolm X (Chelsea, 1989) slow going. --Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Siena College Library, Loudonville, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his preface, Newbery Honor book author Myers ( Scorpions ; Fallen Angels ) notes that Malcolm X's pivotal impact on the civil rights movement of the '60s was the result of his distinctive, dramatic approach: ``It was Malcolm's anger, his biting wit, his dedication, that put the hard edge on the movement, that provided the other side of the sword, not the handle of acceptance and nonviolence, but the blade.'' Appropriately, it is with incisive, precise prose that the author chronicles the labyrinthine path of Malcolm's life, from his 1925 birth in Omaha to his assassination in Harlem 40 years later. Seamlessly fusing historical notes on the era with the activist's story, Myers tells of Malcolm's childhood, which was greatly influenced by his father, a disciple of Marcus Garvey; his life as a youth on the streets of Harlem and Boston, where he was convicted of burglary; his self-education while imprisoned for more than six years; his crucial role in and eventual split from the Nation of Islam; and his pilgrimage to Mecca, which inspired his Organization of Afro-American Unity, established ``to unify Africans on an international basis.'' The inclusion of quotations from Malcolm X's eloquent autobiography brings an added dimension to Myers's account and successfully rounds out this carefully researched portrait of a deeply devoted individual. Ages 10-up. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

Myers has done a fine job of introducing the reader to Malcolm X and of detailing his life from childhood through his time in prison to his rise to leadership of the Nation of Islam. Historical information about civil rights in the United States clarifies Malcolm's choices. Black-and-white photographs illustrate the accessible biography. An excellent choice for any school or home library. Bib. From HORN BOOK 1993, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A fervent portrait of the controversial man who ``put the hard edge on the [civil rights] movement'' and ``scared America'' with his anger. The author sees most of Malcolm X's life as a search for self-respect; discouraged from reaching his full potential in school, he turned to the streets as a sharply dressed hustler but ultimately found more satisfaction in the Nation of Islam's sober living habits and revolutionary philosophy. A talented speaker and organizer, he grew into a leader, the voice of those who saw whites as the enemy and Martin Luther King's nonviolent tactics as either weakness or just too slow. A sense of outrage permeates Myers's book--at segregation and other social inequities; at our biased system of justice; at the FBI's close surveillance of black organizations (Myers is particularly offended by this, and returns to it repeatedly); at the way so many black leaders came to violent ends. The appearance of several recent biographies of Malcolm X--in the wake of the Spike Lee movie--signals a resurgence of interest in this disturbing, gifted figure; use Rummel's Malcolm X (1989) for historical background, but steer readers to Myers for a sense of the rage and frustration that fueled Malcolm X's brief career. (Biography. 12+)

Booklist Review

Gr. 6-12. Neither adulatory nor critical, Myers' biography pays eloquent tribute to the brilliant, radical African American leader who remains a hero for many young people today. Quoting extensively from the best-selling Autobiography of Malcolm X, Myers sets Malcolm X's personal life against the history of segregation and the civil rights movement. He traces the dramatic changes in Malcolm X's life and thinking: from his childhood in a proud, loving home to his dislocation and poverty after his father was killed; from top student to street hustler; from prison inmate to leading voice in the Nation of Islam; from separatist to pan-Africanist who came to accept brotherhood with all individuals of goodwill--until his life was tragically cut off by assassination. Myers shows how Malcolm X relished his image as the "bad man" of the black movement in contrast to Dr. King, and that "his anger, his biting wit, his dedication . . . provided the other side of the sword, not the handle of acceptance and nonviolence, but the blade." He spoke to the voiceless because he had walked in their shoes, calling on them to free themselves from the slavery of self-hatred, of wanting to be part of the mainstream that had rejected them.The writing doesn't have the sustained power of Myers' best fiction (like Somewhere in the Darkness [BKL F 1 92]), and the lack of source notes is a serious drawback for those who want to explore further. But Myers' final chapter is a strong essay summarizing Malcolm X's life and legacy, and throughout the book, passages of quiet intensity capture the essence of the man: "They were shocked to see how he had changed. He was shocked to see that they had not changed." As Myers shows, change was the essence of this leader, who was always transforming himself, whether on his pilgrimage to Mecca or in the streets of Harlem. Teens who haven't yet read the Autobiography will ask for it after reading this account, and the Spike Lee movie will spark even more interest. Includes photos, bibliography, and chronology. ~--Hazel Rochman

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