Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary Critical Context - Essay

Walter Dean Myers

Critical Context

With some fifty books to his credit, Walter Dean Myers is a prolific author whose works are primarily about African American children and youths. In 1994, he was the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for his writing, “which illustrates the universality of the teenage experience in urban America.” Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary has received excellent critical reviews and was a Coretta Scott King Award Honor selection in 1994. He has also written a history of African Americans entitled Now Is Your Time! (1991).

Myers’ range of works is extremely varied—from picture books to nonfiction to novels. His books frequently reflect social issues as they affect young people. In the novel Somewhere in the Darkness (1992), another Coretta Scott King Award Honor selection, a teenage boy leaves home with his father, who recently escaped from prison for a last painful reunion. The death of Myers’ brother in the Vietnam War inspired his novel Fallen Angels (1988), an account of the day-to-day life of a young soldier in the war; he received the Coretta Scott King Award for that novel. The author’s popularity with young people attests the fact that he reaches his goal in his writing to “reach out and touch the lives of my characters and share them with a reader.” In doing so, Myers touches the lives of his readers as well.