Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X

The Fatal Friendship (A Young Readers Adaptation of Blood Brothers)


By Randy Roberts

By Johnny Smith

Adapted by Margeaux Weston

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$23.99 CAD



  1. Hardcover $18.99 $23.99 CAD
  2. ebook $10.99 $13.99 CAD

Discover the remarkable relationship between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, and how their bond affected the movement for Black pride and independence in the 1960s in this nonfiction book for young readers.

★ "From Civil Rights to Black Pride and Black Lives Matter, there isn’t one social justice movement that these two men haven’t impacted." —SLJ, starred review

Freshly adapted for young readers, this in-depth portrait showcases the complex bond between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, revealing how Malcolm helped mold Cassius Clay into Muhammad Ali and influenced his rise as an international symbol of Black pride and Black independence. Yet when Malcolm was expelled from the Nation of Islam for criticizing the conduct of its leader, Elijah Muhammad, Ali turned his back on Malcolm, a choice that some believe tragically contributed to the minister's assassination in February 1965.

Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X is the story of how Ali redefined what it means to be a Black athlete in America, informed by Malcolm's leadership. An extraordinary portrait of love, friendship, and power as well as deceit and betrayal, here is a window into the public and private lives of two national icons, and the tumultuous period in the American Civil Rights Movement that they helped to shape.

  • Praise for Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X:

    ★ "A nuanced look at the complicated friendship that shaped so much of Black history. From Civil Rights to Black Pride and Black Lives Matter, there isn’t one social justice movement that these two men haven’t impacted. Purchase for all American history shelves."
    School Library Journal, starred review
  • "Effectively shows how the intersection of these two magnetic personalities added powerful and complicating dimensions to their lives and the world around them. The tenor and tone of the period clearly come through, thanks to the extensive research and engaging prose. An important volume for understanding a volatile time in U.S. history."
    Kirkus Reviews
  • "If I would recommend this book to a friend, I would tell them about the power of this book and how it shows the power of friendship. If they wanted to read something to change their lives, they should definitely try reading Muhammad Ali and Malcom X." 
    Jackson, age 17
  • "This well-crafted narrative ... provides context and in-depth insight into the real people dealing with real issues during the complicated Civil Rights Movement. While this title could easily be purchased by libraries for their nonfiction collection, it could also be used for in-class book studies in both history and English classes."
    School Library Journal
  • "[A] provocative history.... Roberts and Smith map the relationship between the troubled icons in painstaking detail and debunk long-held assumptions about their break.... Roberts and Smith bring a fresh perspective to the story in the civil rights movement, and capture the ferment of the broader era."
    Publishers Weekly
  • "The authors capture both the remarkable public presence of each man and their vulnerability in a country where the framework of segregation was a barrier to their safety and success. An admiring, respectful presentation of their time as young stars."
  • "I would tell my friends that this book is about Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X's life and how they fought for everyone to be equal. This book also talks about Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X's impact on equality."
    Jacob, age 15
  • "The text provides ample historical and social context [and] creates insightful profiles of both men. . . .will help teens sort through this period's various allegiances and influences, and the promised back matter should interest researchers."
  • "I will remember what I learned about the Nation of Islam which I had previously been unaware about. I would recommend this book to a friend if they were interested about this time period, people, or events discussed in the book."
    Hudson, Age 15

On Sale
Oct 3, 2023
Page Count
240 pages

Randy Roberts

About the Author

Randy Roberts is distinguished professor of history at Purdue University. An award-winning author, he focuses on the intersection of popular and political culture, and has written or co-written biographies of such iconic athletes and celebrities as Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Bear Bryant, Oscar Robertson, John Wayne and Muhammad Ali, as well as books on the Vietnam War, the Alamo, the 1973-1974 college basketball season, and West Point football during World War II. A Season in the Sun is the second book he has written with Johnny Smith. Roberts lives in Lafayette, Indiana.

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Johnny Smith

About the Author

Johnny Smith is the Julius C. “Bud” Shaw Professor in Sports, Society, and Technology and an Assistant Professor of History at Georgia Tech. He is the co-author of Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X (with Randy Roberts) and the author of The Sons of Westwood: John Wooden, UCLA, and the Dynasty That Changed College Basketball. Smith lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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