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Roots by Alex Haley
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Roots (1976)

by Alex Haley

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4,434581,106 (4.27)153
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» See also 153 mentions

English (54)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  All (58)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
In terms of the reading the book, it was a very enjoyable experience. It is well-written and the story carries itself well with presenting and personalizing the inhumanity of Slavery. ( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
Book on CD performed by Avery Brooks.

Haley’s blockbuster history of his ancestors begins with the birth of a baby boy – Kunta Kinte – in a small African village in the Spring of 1750, and ends two centuries later in Arkansas.

It’s a gripping tale and Haley is a great story teller. I was engaged from page one and found myself very interested in all aspects of the book – from Kunta Kinte’s boyhood in Africa, to his experiences as a slave, to the continued story of his descendants and how they kept the story of “the African” alive through the generations.

Haley’s narrative focuses on three of his male ancestors. Kunta Kinte’s story takes nearly half the book. His grandson “Chicken George” occupies much of the third of the book. And George’s son Tom, is the focus of the next major section as the family is emancipated at the end of the Civil War. I am struck by the fact that Haley gives little attention to the women in his ancestral line. Not only is Kizzy given short shrift, but Tom’s daughter Cynthia and granddaughter Bertha (who is Haley’s mother) are given less attention than their husbands – Will Parker and Simon Haley. And this, despite Haley’s statements that it was the “old women” – his grandmother, aunts and cousin who passed along the story of “The African” and his descendants. Still, this is a small quibble.

Avery Brooks does a magnificent job narrating the audio book. He is an accomplished actor and really brings the characters to life. His deeply resonant voice was mesmerizing, and despite his naturally deep timber he managed to give a believable voice to even the young girls.

While the book is catalogued by libraries as nonfiction / biography, Haley obviously had to invent the dialogue he uses for much of the book. (I find it interesting that more readers tag this as “fiction” than nonfiction.) When published the book was a runaway best seller, but also somewhat controversial. Haley was accused of plagiarism and he settled the case out of court, admitting that many passages from The African by Harold Courtlander appeared in his book. Additionally, many genealogists have questioned his research and feel that official records do not confirm the story much before the Civil War. None of this information takes away from the great story, however. ( )
1 vote BookConcierge | Apr 13, 2016 |
This book reminds me of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Mr Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Rest in Peace). Both books tell the story of families from one family member's life events to their children's and so on. I enjoyed it a little more than Mr. Marquez's book because this book also included historical events and how the family felt about the things going on around them. Another aspect of the book I enjoyed as well was the end where the author described how the book came about. The book is very well written and human nature is portrayed perfectly. Definitely adding this book to my favorite's list. Now, to see the movies/series :). ( )
  Beatriz_V_F | Feb 27, 2016 |
this is a perfect example of a book that would benefit from offering different rating criteria, rather than just one overall rating.

because of the cultural and historical significance of roots, it deserves 5-stars. but because i was really expecting much stronger writing and a smoother style - i mean, he's got 900 pages to work with here; it's not like there's a shortage of space - i feel like the book was only 2½ to 3-stars on the quality of writing.

i did very much enjoy the dialects haley used, so that was in no way an issue. (mentioned only because i have read a lot of reviews where this seems to be a chief complaint.) but there seemed to be strands that never came to much (the foreshadowing of a terrible relationship between brothers ashford and tom, for example, went exactly nowhere.) as well, chunks of time were skipped. i know haley was covering a lot of years, and not every single one could be accounted for, but some of these transitions were really awkward. for example, kunta kinte, so fierce, strong and determined to get free...skip ahead 4 years and he's resigned to his lot and on edge a bit still, but content-ish. to me, that was a jarring point in the book and a point at which i wanted more information. as well, the book - at least the edition i read - just went directly from the novel into alex haley's own recollections. the chapters just continuing as though nothing different was going on. it was interesting, but oddly presented.

i am very glad i have read the book, though. we had a first edition of it in our home when i was a kid. i did flip through it, reading bits of it; but i never read the whole book. and when the TV series debuted, it was a big deal - i remember watching it with my mum. so i have long felt like i knew the story. it's about time i actually, finally, read roots

and, really, for my criticisms of haley's writing style, i did find myself very engaged with the story of kunta kinte and the generations of his family. i think haley did a very good job bringing to life the horrors of slavery and the suffering endured. i will never, ever understand how people ever thought slavery, and all the evil cruelties involved, were acceptable. so this is a very necessary story, even with the brouhaha surrounding the work set aside.

harvard university professor dr. henry louis gates, jr. was a friend of haley, but years after his death gates acknowledged doubts about the author's claims. He said, "Most of us feel it's highly unlikely that Alex actually found the village whence his ancestors sprang. Roots is a work of the imagination rather than strict historical scholarship. It was an important event because it captured everyone's imagination." ( )
  Booktrovert | Feb 15, 2016 |
A beautiful, heartrending story. Never excess nor long-wind, the narrative flows seamlessly from one generation to the next. ( )
  LaPhenix | Nov 22, 2015 |
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Epigraph
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Wij zwarten
Dedication
It wasn't planned that Roots' researching and writing finally would take twelve years. Just by chance it is being published in the Bicentennial Year of the United States. So I dedicate Roots as a birthday offering to my country within which most of Roots happened.
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Early in the spring of 1750, in the village of Juffure, four days upriver from the coast of The Gambia, West Africa, a manchild was born to Omoro and Binta Kinte.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440174643, Paperback)

It begins with a birth in 1750, in an African village; it ends seven generations later at the Arkansas funeral of a black professor whose children are a teacher, a Navy architect, an assistant director of the U.S. Information Agency, and an author. The author is Alex Haley. This magnificent book is his.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:01 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A black American traces his family's origins back to the African who was brought to America as a slave in 1767.

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