Linda I's Reviews > Roots: The Saga of an American Family

Roots by Alex Haley
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May 19, 13

bookshelves: historical-fiction, biography, african-american-literature, alex-haley
Read in June, 2010

"Roots" is the supposed genealogical recounting of Alex Haley's African roots to his great-great-great grandfather, Kunta Kinte, a Mandinka tribesman who was captured and sold into slavery. The story follows Kunta through his upbringing in Gambia, capture, voyage across the sea, sale, attempted escapes, mutilation at the hands of slave capturers, marriage to slave housekeeper and the birth of his daughter Kizzy. The story then follows Kizzy's sale to another owner and the birth of her son, George, and the story of his eight children, numerous grandchildren and eventually his down to his great-great children. An intriguing and detailed story, I wanted to keep reading more and more though the stories of slavery and cruelty literally make me sick to my stomach. Haley recounts this saga through the eyes of his slave ancestors as they witness the American Revolution, the American Civil War, and the Emancipation Proclamation. At the end, Haley only briefly outlines his life, but focuses on the details of his research. Other historians have claimed that Haley's "historical" research was not accurate and charges of plagarism arose after "Roots" was published. Yet, despite all this negative publicity, the story is unforgettable. If parts were embellished or a figment of Haley's imagination, well, then re-label the story "historical fiction" and be done with the controversy. The events that stricken his ancestors were tanigble possibilities for people living during the Southern plantation era. Though the writing style could have been better, the story is monumental.
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