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10 thoughts on “Roots

  1. says:

    I read this book long, long ago came across it while going through a book list here on Goodreads, and suddenly felt the urge to post a review.Dear Kunta Kinte,We are separated by time, space and culture Throughout your largely tragic life, you would never have imagined that your story would ever be written, let alone read by a bookish teenager in far away India, for whom slavery till that day was only a fact learned from school textbooks, mucked up to pass hated history exams However, Mr Kinte, you would be pleased to know that reading your story, penned by your descendant Mr Alex Haley, changed his whole outlook He suffered with you, Mr.Kinte, as you lay chained up in the dark and dank hold of the slaving vessel he felt the searing pain as your foot was cut off as punishment for trying to run away he choked back the bitter disappointment, along with you, when your master told you that the money you had saved up was not enough to buy you freedom namely, that you were too poor to pay for what you were worth and he suffered the agony of separation with you as your daughter was sold off And that teenager hung his head in shame as he thought of similar atrocities perperated by his forefathers in the name of caste.Mr.Kinte, that day the boy took a vow never ever to insult the dignity of another human being also not forget these crimes against humanity, lest they be repeated.Mr.Kinte, I am that boy I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the lessons your story taught me.Yours sincerely,Nandakishore Varma.


  2. says:

    Roots The Saga of an American Family Roots, Alex Haley Roots The Saga of an American Family is a novel written by Alex Haley and first published in 1976 It tells the story of Kunta Kinte, an 18th century African, captured as an adolescent, sold into slavery in Africa, transported to North America following his life and the lives of his descendants in the United States down to Haley The release of the novel, combined with its hugely popular television adaptation, Roots 1977 , led to a cultural sensation in the United States, and it is considered to be one of the most important U.S works of the 20th century The novel spent forty six weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List, including twenty two weeks at number one The last seven chapters of the novel were later adapted in the form of a second miniseries, Roots The Next Generations 1979 It stimulated interest in genealogy and appreciation for African American history 1979 1357 695 1361 1363 1367 1369 1382 1387 1388 1392 1393 9789643030506 1394 775 9789640018224 20 1366 416 1387 9786005381061


  3. says:

    This book was astonishing to me particularly the narrative of Kunta Kinte s life This is why I read What an amazing description of African culture and the rights of manhood Then, the horrible violation of slavery and the cross cultural experience of an African joining slaves who were predominately born in the United States Sounds silly, but though I ve read many books on slavery, none have dealt with the differences among slaves themselves and how growing up as a slave shaped how African Americans thought and interacted both with whites and with newly arrived Africans I could understand why Alex Haley is the best selling African American author to date.I wanted to give this book a 5 But, two things prevented me from giving it the highest rating.First, when the book moves away from Kunte Kinte into successive generations, while it has engaging moments, something of the brilliance was lost This was strange to me After reading the book, I did some research on Alex Haley and Roots, and discovered that there were allegations that Haley plagiarized from Harold Courlander s The African , published nine years before Roots It seems the passages in question were concentrated in the life of Kunta Kinte after Courlander sued Haley an out of court monetary settlement from Haley to Courlander was made, though Haley seems to have maintained innocence in the matter Could it be that the brilliance of the book came from Courlander s work I don t know and have requested The African from inter library loan in order to investigate further Margaret Walker Alexander filed a similar suit, but hers was dismissed The legal actions of both Courlander and Walker were resolved in 1978 This was two years after the publication of Roots in 1976, and one year after a national television miniseries boosted sales and interest in 1977 I will also hunt down Walker s book.Secondly, the genealogical work behind the book has come into question This wouldn t be a problem, except that the final chapters present the genealogy as factually verified by the author in an attempt to place the work firmly in the historical fiction genre In addition, these final chapters uphold Haley s lineage as a kind of beacon for all of African descent who don t know who they are This could have been done in the realm of fiction, without the assertion of fact, but it wasn t.I was very disappointed by these revelations I felt mislead, even betrayed, by Alex Haley However, I must concede that even with these faults, the book is a wonderful read that opened up new doors of thought to me and shaped my thinking in new ways For that, I am grateful As a follow up, I have also confirmed that Haley plagiarized from Margaret Walker s book, Jubilee, an absolutely fabulous book written by the first African American woman to earn a PhD I would highly recommend this book In addition, reading both The African and Jubilee helped me to see a little of what Haley was getting at with writing Roots.Now that I understand his perspective better, I can see that Roots definitely had an agenda Black Power connected with Africanism and Islam, which is probably also represented in The Autobiography of Malcolm X Note the following when you read it 1 The extremely compelling portions on Africa have been criticized as current social anthropology as opposed to history.2 There is an emphasis lacking in Courlander s The African on Islamic belief, as opposed to voodoo being the religious and cultural grounding of the African community.3 Christianity is covertly proclaimed as the white man religion , used by slave traders to stomp out cultural identity and practices that might lead blacks to gather up enough confidence to start a successful rebellion.4 Apparently, the book kicked off a ton of travel to Africa, during which African Americans found they were not embraced as Haley alludes they would be Also, many believe Haley s documentation of his trip to Africa is entirely false and that the groit he met and all the officials involved were coached and eager to see Haley be successful in generating interest in their country.5 All of these things would be forgivable IF Haley had merely written a work of fiction We would suspect authors had their own ideas, agendas and perspectives But, the intro and those last chapters are horrifically misleading It s almost like he believed his own press And the IDEA that he was going for is powerful, that Africans were stripped of their roots by the slave industry and that this has been harmful to them But this reality only serves to underline the strong motive he had for promoting this perspective and African Islam Black Power as the logical fulfillment salvation to such a paradigm.6 Some of the quotes, references to Haley lead me to believe he wasn t a very nice person not that anyone wants to say that outright, but it s there It certainly appears he was looking to a black Muslim identity for wholeness, salvation, and power Hopefully, he found peace with God and others before he died.Also, regarding Jubilee specifically, I recognized one paragraph in the first chapter that I m pretty sure was copied verbatim The main character, Vyry and her mother, Sis Hetta whose death opens the book seem to have inspired Haley s character Kizzy But, as obvious as that was, perhaps the biggest thing Haley lifted from Jubilee was the idea to write about one s descendants and that such knowledge was important for the coming generations Walker s dedication communicates this intention with less dramatic flair than Haley s claims about flying the globe, roaming through records, and finding groits who harbor verbal testimony of his ancestors, all while the oldest and last of his relatives is dying.I would still recommend Roots, but I thought these observations might be helpful in positioning the work within its proper historical context For information on my investigations pertaining to Roots, please see the conversation in comments on this review Although many of those that originally discussed the book with me are no longer on Goodreads, I think you can follow the discussion and track my primary sources if you would like to know Enjoy The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Alex Haley, 1965Jubilee, Margaret Walker, 1966https www.goodreads.com review showThe African, Harold Courlander, 1967https www.goodreads.com review showAlso from Goodreads discussion below this review Roots Philip Nobile The Village Voice February 23, 1993After Haley s death, his private papers were released and reviewed by Philip Nobile, who published a definitive article in 1993 Nobile s article details specific problems with Haley s account and includes numerous primary sources I was able to order this article via the periodicals department at my library It was photocopied by a library that owned the magazine copy and sent to my library It cost me 1 Also from Goodreads discussion below this review 10 Big Lies about America, Medved, 2008Big Lie 2 The United States is Uniquely Guilty for the Crime of Slavery, and Based Its Wealth on Stolen African Laborhttps www.goodreads.com review showA new book has been written that I prefer to Roots A generational narrative that spans from Africa to America and back, seeHomegoing, Gyasi, 2016https www.goodreads.com review show


  4. says:

    I remember watching the mini series of this book on TV around the same time we were studying about early American history in school I finally got my hands on this book a few years back when a friend lent it to me and since she was clearing her bookshelf I was than happy to keep the copyI still have it A gripping and gritting portrayal of the story of a tribal prince, Kunta Kinte, who is snatched from his homeland of Africa and thrown into a nightmare of slavery in America and how not only he, but his subsequent generation of descendants fight against odds to keep their identity as well as the story of Kunta Kinte alive A must read


  5. says:

    Magnificent The epic chronicle of a family through many generations of cruelty, hardship and suffering But it s much than that really it s the history of slavery in America What happened to the characters in this book happened to millions of others and it s a story that needed to be told and Alex Haley did a masterful job of telling it Roots should be required reading in high schools because all of us, regardless of age, race, or gender should understand this history You can t tell the history of America without telling the history of slavery We can still feel it s impact on our society still today.4.5 stars


  6. says:

    I honestly can t believe how much I enjoyed this book It s been sitting on my shelf for about half a year now and I ve been wanting to read it as soon as I got it I always just started another book though and always said next time I finally picked it up 6 days ago and finished it about 10 minutes ago The beginning was wonderful I was so enthralled with Africa and Kunta Kinte and his family and the whole works The way they lived, the culture, the traditions, it was like reading of another world almost literally How close of a family they were and the way they were raised is so far fetched of what it s like today These people were all about respect and their tight clans and villages They loved all of each other and they worked hard for what they had even if it was hardly anything They lived without most of the things we feel we NEED today It honestly didn t seem that bad of a lifestyle.To be ripped apart from that after barely just being able to live as they call it was heart breaking Just to be Kunta with his aspirations and dreams and then to be ripped from it just in a split second by someone with their own ideas and taken away from the only thing he knows I can t imagine just being taken away from my famly and my COUNTRY to some strange place where they don t even speak a language I know The story telling was so descriptive, I cried, cringed and just felt a weight on my heart.Following Kinte and seeing how brave he was and how determined he was to find a way back home showed how proud he was and how he really thought if he tried he could make it back I thought he might have tried a bit too much but I think he would ve kept going if they hadn t of done what they did As the years go on he builds a whole new life Learns a new language, builds a new home and family and basically start over as a whole nother person Nothing could ve been harder He never let where he came from die though He made sure his children knew where he came from and so on.The only thing I wasn t really too happy about was when the story just all of a sudden went to Kizzy I mean we never heard about Kunta and Bell again Half the book was about Kunta and then the next chapter that s it I didn t really like that.All in all, I loved how the family kept its tradition and promise to make sure they knew about Kunta and where he came from It was amazing.I find it odd too because 3 last names in that book are of my ancestral background Johnson, being my maiden name Henning being my grandmother s maiden name and Haley being my great grandmother s maiden name before becoming a Henning This is all on my father s side, too I think that s really amazing I wonder if those in the book were my ancestors Hmm Something to look up.To know a bit of where you come from and who your ancestors are I think is a wonderful thing to know For Alex Haley to have been able to actually travel to the place where his great great great great grandfather came from That s just amazing Not many ppl can say that and I m sure it would give you a sense of PRIDE to be able to say yes, my so and so was this person or that person WONDERFUL BOOK


  7. says:

    I don t know why I ve never read this book before now It s excellent Yes, as a Midwestern, middle aged white person, the repeated use of the N word was jarring, but definitely necessary to the story It got a point across that I don t think would have been properly conveyed any other way I m going to re watch the miniseries soon It came out when I was in grade school, so I don t remember it well But I highly recommend the book.


  8. says:

    I am at least a fifth generation genealogist I was ten when this book was first published and made into a miniseries But, I was allowed to stay up that entire week of January 23 January 30, 1977 to watch it in its entirety I thought the cast did an excellent job To this day, I still believe that the book was much better than the movie But, as Dr Henry Louis Gates, Jr once pointed out, 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.


  9. says:

    I loved both the book and movie versions of this powerful, historical saga I will never forget the indomitable Kunta Kinte This book changed my very sheltered teenage world view Decades later, I am now reading Esi Edugyan s Washington Black, and once again I am brought face to face with humanity s truly awful dark side I have to read these gut wrenching novels in bits and pieces, because my poor aging heart can no longer take so much horror in one long sitting.With the perspective of time and and my own life experience, and after reading Roots and many other historical novels, I ve come to realize this We humans constantly abuse POWER, whether it comes in the form of money, position or some other sort of bestowed privilege There have been rebellions throughout history, attempting to redress the imbalance caused by all the abuses of power in this world I used to read historical novels almost exclusively during my teens and twenties, but as I entered my thirties and forties, I became jaded, and I turned to historical novels less and less We don t ever seem to learn our lessons, do we History just keeps repeating itself in a timeless loop only the costumes, players and settings seem to change.Lately, I ve been listening to Simon and Garfunkel s The Sound of Silence, as performed by the group Disturbed Silence like a cancer grows so very true Our silence our complacency allows people like Trump to become our Neon Gods Because so many of us are afraid to think for ourselves, we surrender to what is fed to us by the media and other prevailing dogma We have to examine all the crutches that so many of us need in this life a religion or philosophy to believe in and blindly follow, stockpiles of money so we can build a false sense of security or create temporary happiness by indulging in luxurious status symbols phones, cars, mc mansions, brand name clothes , and our consumption of food, alcohol and drugs often to excess I am just as guilty of all of this.Those of us who love to retreat into the world of books need to support authors like Esi Edugyan, Alex Hailey and countless others who shine the stark light of truth on man s historical and ongoing inhumanity to man Reading helps us to examine diverse thoughts and viewpoints Hopefully, we can evolve our own notions of what we need to do to co exist with tolerance and forgiveness Keep reading lest we forget


  10. says:

    I opened the cover of this book with eagerness and excitement In fact, I informed my family I was finally reading Roots and I would be out of commission for the week I was then greeted by 192 pages of some of the dullest prose I have ever encountered Dull and monotonous writing Zero character development The exotic locale of Africa reduced to sand and thorns, with a few cardboard cut outs of Africans standing around.Then, on page 192 out of 900 , conflict finally creates the true beginnings of a story It is here, despite the conflict being the horror of abduction leading into a lifetime of slavery, where I finally realized I needed to let go of my desire to experience any character development and submit instead to Haley s true gifts, which are research and story telling.The story, from roughly pages 192 to 853, is often compelling I have read many works of fiction and some non fiction from this time period, and this book obviously contributes a completely unique perspective In particular, I appreciated Haley showing slavery as not only an evil and despicable practice, but an absurd one as well And, Kunta Kinte s observations, as an educated and Muslim African amongst slaves who had lost their heritage, their religions, and their families were absolutely thought provoking and often heart breaking Yet, when the finally interesting story shifts again, to the first person narrator at the end, I felt it was really the final blow for me Left in the hands of a capable writer, the ending, where Haley reveals his process and research, could have been fascinating It was not, and the final pages, where he discusses the death of his father, made no cogent sense to me and had no connection to the rest of the story.I applaud the incredible scope of this book and its huge cultural, ancestral, social and spiritual contributions, but I really struggled with the writing If you happen to be reading this and feel similarly, I would highly recommend both Margaret Walker s Jubilee and Toni Morrison s Beloved as far literary works which deal with slavery and its lasting impact on fully developed characters.


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