CRB: Solve for X

The new (winter) issue of the Claremont Review of Books is in the mail and, thanks to our friends among its ranks, we are previewing three pieces from it this week. The issue is characteristically chock full of excellent reviews and essays by prominent scholars.

Faithful Power Line readers know that the CRB is my favorite magazine. If you love to read and if you lean conservative, it is tailor-made for you. A subscription to the CRB costs less that $20 a year. Subscribe here and get immediate online access to the entire issue thrown in. Now to the winter issue.

First he was Malcolm Little, then Malcolm X, then El-Hajj Malil el-Shabazz, with a host of nicknames in between. Malcolm X, known today as simply Malcolm, reinvented himself throughout his life. When he died, “his legacy, like his name, was left unfinished–his identity still in flux.” In the new issue of the CRB, Professor Diana Schaub reviews Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (just out in paperback), by the late Manning Marable. Professor Schaub’s review is “Solve for X.”

Schaub recounts Malcolm’s rough beginnings, and how prison saved him, providing him the education that school couldn’t. It was in prison that Malcolm began the process of becoming serious, copying the dictionary page by page to expand his vocabulary, and soon turning to history and philosophy.

He soon joined the Nation of Islam, but it could not contain him for long. Schaub argues that Malcolm spent his later life thinking deeply about law and citizenship, and developing a political philosophy which she compares to that of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor Schaub finds that he is worth a serious look because, despite his flaws, he lived a surprisingly American life.

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