My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is not a full biography of either Muhammad or Malcolm. Rather, it chronicles the times of their life that overlapped with a third circle of a Venn diagram — both of their relations' with The Nation of Islam and its then-leader, Elijah Muhammad.
Malcolm was seeking to move beyond the tight oversight of NOI, and even fear of Muhammad and his sons, even while moving in new spiritual directions that eventually led to orthodox Islam. (Outside of Louis Farrakhan, most the post-Elijah NOI later took that same journey, though Farrakhan retained the name.)
Meanwhile, Ali, having previously indicated some interest in the movement, was actively recruited by NOI.
And then Malcolm, seeing him as a sort of shield, tried to bind himself as much as possible to Ali.
Obviously, this ultimately failed. Years later, though, Ali would follow Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad's son in the same direction.
The backdrop to all, the story era of the book, of this is race relations, civil rights, and different strategies for pursuing those civil rights.
This is not an in-depth assessment of any of that, but it is a good read in general about how we can weave tangled webs, how jealousy can promote mistrust, and more.
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He floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee
For a while he was the greatest, Muhammad Ali.