This biography of Malcolm was more than a decade in the making. It was written by Manning Marable, who died on April 1, 2011, shortly before the publication of his reevaluation of Malcolm’s life and politics. Marable was one of the foremost scholars of Black politics in the United States. Here Marable has crafted a compelling intellectual history of Malcolm in which he shows how Malcolm’s thoughts grew out of social and religious movements that first emerged within the black community during the nineteenth century.
A Critical Reevaluation
Marable structures his reevaluation of Malcolm X’s life, as a critical deconstruction of Malcolm X’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As told to Alex Haley. Marable’s reevaluation required questioning the redemption story that forms the heart of The Autobiography. The story of the Autobiography, fashioned in partnership with the liberal republican Alex Haley and released after Malcolm’s death, often falls into motifs of decline and then salvation, which date back to earlier slave narratives and stories of Christian redemption, examples ranging from Olaudah Equiano to Frederick Douglas. When Malcolm agreed to work on the Autobiography in 1963 his objective was to present to the reader “the transformative power of the apostle Elijah Muhammad, who had taken him from a life of criminality and drugs to one of sobriety and commitment” (p. 260). In contrast, Marable historicizes Malcolm’s intellectual development, showing not only the disjunctions but also the commonalities between Malcolm’s earlier beliefs and his later insights. Marable also firmly locates Malcolm’s ideas within the wider African American intellectual tradition.
In the United States, and much of Western Europe, the 1990s have often been remembered as a decade of triumphant stability, while the expected somnolence of the 2000s too often appeared marred by crises and upheaval. Consequentially, there has been a lot of handwringing amongst historians of the recent past and other political and social prognosticators searching for the moment of change. Questions about whether or not there was a tipping point, when it occurred, and what the transition from stability to instability consisted of, continue to plague writers looking at the last two decades. Yet a partial answer to questions about the location and nature of the point of inflection between stability and instability after the Cold War begins to emerge in Daniel Yergin’s latest book, The Quest.
The Quest for All-encompassing Theories
Enshrouded in the fog of the present, observers turned to competing theories about the nature of great politics within the labyrinth of international relations, to define the sources and to prognosticate the longevity of Western ascendency at the end of the Cold War. Arguments about the durability of the Pax Americana and the triumph of liberal democracies in general were initially framed as a contest of ideas between the triumphalism of Francis Fukayama, best articulated in his 1992 book The End of History and the Last Man, and his fierce debate with his critics from within the political science community, Samuel Huntington and John Mearsheimer.  On the one hand, Fukayama argued that the success of an alliance of liberal democracies, which emerged out of the wreckage of the Second World War, in their decade long struggle with Communism showed decisively that a fundamental truth of human nature was the quest for freedom and the realization of respect for the individual, and that these values could best, and perhaps only be actualized in capitalist, liberal democracies. One of the core implications of Fukayama’s argument was that the very human quest for self-realization would inevitably compel individuals, and consequentially whole societies, to build liberal democratic states, which shared a universal set of core values out of which a new harmonious and cooperative international order could be constructed. 
As we gear up for the long winded and jingoistic zeal of the American electoral season, there are plenty of reasons to worry that international conflict could once again break out in the Middle East. After all 2011 and long Arab Spring have revealed new fault lines throughout the Middle East, and the very fragility located at the core of the regional pax Americana established by the signing of the Camp David Accord in 1979. As Americans rejoice in the relative success of their involvement in the Libya mission, fidget nervously about the outcome of Egypt’s elongated electoral season, ignore the internal political conflicts playing out in Iraq after our withdrawal, and fret indecisively about the ongoing civil wars festering unattended in Syria and Yemen, to say nothing of the border conflict between the two Sudans, most Americans attention has shifted to the Gulf and America’s standoff with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. The ongoing reality television series that the Republican debates have become, feature nightly invocations about the existential danger that Iran poses to this nation, even as bluster over new sanctions targeting Iran’s petroleum industry and saber rattling in the Straits of Hormuz highlight the danger of war.
Can a statelet be a regional power? Does size or population matter if a state possesses wealth? And if not at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, what are the sources of power and authority in the international system? Have we entered a world where even a lonely city-state can leverage the resources necessary to shape regional or global events?
The strange rise of Qatar as a regional actor has restored to center stage questions about the types of power that different kinds of actors can marshal within the international system.