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

Roots by Alex Haley
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Aug 17, 11

bookshelves: history, audiobook
Recommended for: Everyone
Read from August 10 to 17, 2011

This is quite possibly the best book I've read this year... and I have read nearly 80. I feel like I read it at exactly the right time in my life and that many of the other books I've read this year compliment the reading of this book (Such as Frederick Douglas' autobiography, The Help, and the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks). I think everyone should read this book, whether black or white, American or from wherever in the world because it presents history from the perspective not often well documented.

I also feel honored to work for the National Archives after having read this and seeing how records can be used to strengthen the oral family histories so vital to truly understanding where we came from and the events we traditionally read about in textbooks and timelines. That was one thing I thought Alex Haley did extremely well. As he told his family's story he included their reactions or interpretations to the 'news' which were all events we'd learned about in US history class - various wars and government policies and leaders in office - and it was amazing to see how this national context effected one family on a local level.

I also really enjoyed the resilience of the Kinte/Haley family and their community. While they suffered incredible trials, their reliance on family and the kindness of people in their community was shown time and time again to offer them opportunities which in turn benefited the people of the next generation. It is clear that Haley recognizes with humility that he is who he is today and had the opportunities and life he had because of the great family he has all the way back 200 years to the Gambia. I think that is a lesson we all can learn from, that much of our opportunities come from others generosity, and to live a life of gratitude through service. He served the entire African American community, and Americans more generally, as well as the people of the world through documenting this amazing history and writing such a beautiful, heartrending, inspiring, historically accurate portrayal of his family.
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