The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X

Les Payne, the renowned Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist, embarked in 1990 on a nearly thirty-year-long quest to interview anyone he could find who had actually known Malcolm X—all living siblings of the Malcolm Little family, classmates, street friends, cellmates, Nation of Islam figures, FBI moles and cops, and political leaders around the world. His goal was ambitious: to transform what would become over a hundred hours of interviews into an unprecedented portrait of Malcolm X, one that would separate fact from fiction.

The result is this historic biography that conjures a never-before-seen world of its protagonist, a work whose title is inspired by a phrase Malcolm X used when he saw his Hartford followers stir with purpose, as if the dead were truly arising, to overcome the obstacles of racism. Setting Malcolm’s life not only within the Nation of Islam but against the larger backdrop of American history, the book traces the life of one of the twentieth century’s most politically relevant figures “from street criminal to devoted moralist and revolutionary.”

In tracing Malcolm X’s life from his Nebraska birth in 1925 to his Harlem assassination in 1965, Payne provides searing vignettes culled from Malcolm’s Depression-era youth, describing the influence of his Garveyite parents: his father, Earl, a circuit-riding preacher who was run over by a street car in Lansing, Michigan, in 1929, and his mother, Louise, who continued to instill black pride in her children after Earl’s death. Filling each chapter with resonant drama, Payne follows Malcolm’s exploits as a petty criminal in Boston and Harlem in the 1930s and early 1940s to his religious awakening and conversion to the Nation of Islam in a Massachusetts penitentiary.

With a biographer’s unwavering determination, Payne corrects the historical record and delivers extraordinary revelations—from the unmasking of the mysterious NOI founder “Fard Muhammad,” who preceded Elijah Muhammad; to a hair-rising scene, conveyed in cinematic detail, of Malcolm and Minister Jeremiah X Shabazz’s 1961 clandestine meeting with the KKK; to a minute-by-minute account of Malcolm X’s murder at the Audubon Ballroom.

Introduced by Payne’s daughter and primary researcher, Tamara Payne, who, following her father’s death, heroically completed the biography, The Dead Are Arising is a penetrating and riveting work that affirms the centrality of Malcolm X to the African American freedom struggle.

Title:The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781631491665
Format Type:

    The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X Reviews

  • Kevin Shepherd

    “The French people have placed the negro soldier in France on an equality with the white man, and it has gone to their heads.” ~Woodrow Wilson, 1919Malcolm X was a brilliant, courageous badass who...

  • Murtaza

    Like many people around the world, The Autobiography of Malcolm X had a powerful impact on my own life and upbringing. For a certain sort of person, Malcolm X remains something close to a saint. He wa...

  • Meike

    Winner of the National Book Award for Non-Fiction 2020Les Payne worked on this book for almost 30 years, and it shows: This account of Malcolm X's life, completed after Payne's death by his daughter a...

  • Kathleen

    National Book Award for Nonfiction 2020. Les Payne and his daughter, Tamara Payne, focused their 30 years of research on Malcolm X, the man, versus the iconic myth surrounding the Black revolutionary ...

  • Ken

    Maybe I'm the last of the Mohicans, but I knew precious little about Malcolm X (beyond hearing of him a lot) and decided to plug the historical gap in my education by reading this book. Exhaustive is ...

  • Michelle

    Congratulations!! 🎊 National Book Award Winner!! The Dead Are Arising is the collaborative effort of Les Payne and his daughter Tamara. For the heralded columnist this is his opus, a thirty year...

  • Ryan Macnair

    This is great companion reading to the Autobiography of Malcolm X. It parses through Malcolm's life using interviews with his siblings as well as many people who knew him personally in order to flesh ...

  • Andre

    Ohhh maaan! Riveting! Updated 11/24. 👉🏿 At the risk of succumbing to recency bias, I am naming this as the best book on Malcolm, biography or otherwise that has ever been written. The Paynes hav...

  • Maggie Tokuda-Hall

    an exhaustive and thorough telling of Malcolm's life. It reads like an act of love by someone who wants to know and tell the absolute truth about a man as a way to feel closer to him. Payne does a gre...

  • Thomas Rush

    I first read “The Autobiography Of Malcolm X” 38 years ago, in 1982. I have read the book more than 5 additional times, each time offering new insights. The book was so inspiring that I have been ...