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Roots [Paperback]

Alex Haley
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heritage Regained June 26 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Alex Haley's monumental tribute to his forebears provides not only the perfect antidote for Blacks in a society that perpetually miseducates us about our ancestral homeland, but also an unblinking and unflinching view of slavery.
This was the book that made Americans of all races and creeds care about this country's shameful past in a way that many never had before. The book points out the role of Arab slave traders in the problem, but it should be noted that under their auspices such problems stayed on African soil until the arrival of the toubob.
Haley does a brilliant job of getting inside the heads, hearts and souls of his forbear, Kunta Kinte and his family, however fictional certain aspects of the story may be. He warmly and lovingly re-creates both the positive and negative aspects of life in the village of Juffure, The Gambia, detailing their family lives, educational system, religious life, and their complex system of government. We learn about griots, who are highly reminiscent of the wandering minstrels of Medieval Europe, who through their songs and stories, pass the history of their people from one generation to another.I could feel the hot,arid climate of that region from just reading!
If people never read any other part of this epic saga, I would at least encourage them to read Chapter 24 in which Haley gives a brief but college-level education about the great kingdoms of West Africa, including Mali, the Kingdom where the world's first University was built in Timbuktu.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true historical masterpiece marked by a genius June 28 2007
By Jenny J.J.I. TOP 500 REVIEWER
Ever since I was little I saw the book laying on my parents small make-shaft book shelf and time to time I would look at the exterior and the size of the book with awe. One day a friend of mine brought this book back to my attention and I'd purchase it at my local book store. Alex Haley's 'Roots' is fantastic. It captures generations of love, tears, pain, strife, sacrifice, as well as happiness engulf close to 700-something pages.

I found myself getting so involved and moved by the characters' stories that I often had to put the book down and there were parts in there that just broke my heart and I swore I didn't want to read it anymore but instead it took me in further. Throughout the entire book I observed a repeating pattern of events that allow me to think about how for generations a family could hold on to their faith, beliefs, and traditions no matter what. Also, throughout this long life-span journey of Kunta Kinte and his proceeding family tree, and their experiences with the opposing lives of free-men and slaves, the author presents a precise central idea or opinion that is past down from generation to generation.

This central idea is so clearly emphasized by the title of the book. Alex Haley's opinion on the importance of a family or individuals roots or origins is much similar to the necessity of roots for the survival of plants; that provide anchoring and support. Not only did Haley believe that roots played a key roll in his life and the life of his entire family tree, but that in some cases it is the only noble aspect of life that one could be proud of, as it determines his identity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT AN AMAZING BOOK FOR EVERYONE!!! Jan. 4 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book IS one of the landmarks in writing in the 20th century. It was the first REAL book that i started reading from start to end and WHAT a journey it was!! From the first page Alex Haley grips you into the epic story of Kunta Kinte leading up to the author's actual life. Despite the book's large size it will not matter as soon as you start reading it.
I found this book not only to be a work of fiction, but also a history lesson of the slavery era and black history in general. The dialogue and characters Haley talks about are top rate and he writes it in a way that makes you feel that you were actually there watching it all happen!! There are even some parts of the book where I found myself nearly shedding tears!!! due to the drama that unfold in the book, especially the part where he describes the slave ship.
I highly recommend this book for two reasons. First, because it is a fascinating look at the Slavery Era and what followed it with its 'raw' and dreadful reality. Second, because this book will educate those who read it, including myself, about the brave struggle of the Blacks in the U.S towards achieving their freedom.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A family story. March 4 2004
This year for Black History Month, I decided to read a black history book, and I could not think of any title more celebrated than Alex Haley's "Roots". The experience was rewarding far beyond what I would have imagined in two respects. First, learning more about a cultural heritage that was different from my own was an awakening to say the least. Furthermore, Haley proved to be a master storyteller, making the read an enriching personal event.
One of the most compelling aspects of Roots is its conceptual basis. "Roots" is unique in its approach to research. The germination of "Roots" occurred when, as a youth, Haley marveled at the ancient family stories related to him by his maternal grandmother and a coterie of other female cousins and aunts. Those tales relate how a great ancestor known as "the African" was kidnapped into slavery one morning while chopping wood for a drum along a river called "Kamby Bologo". The family's oral tradition was remarkable in its time scale, covering at least five generations after the African was sold into slavery at Annapolis in 1767.
Haley expands his research beyond the family stories to include corroboration from conventional genealogical and historical sources such as official records from Spotsylvania county Virginia. In addition, Haley takes the further (and unprecedented) step of including corroboration from African oral tradition sources know as "Griots". Griots are a cultural phenomenon in West Africa. They are individuals who are combination storytellers and historical archive for a culture that has limited written records. It is the blending of information from such diverse sources that gives "Roots" its unique appeal.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
I originally read this book when it first came out - loved it then - love it today. I found it very well written. My heart ached for the horrors that the characters went through. Read more
Published 4 months ago by FayB
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good service
The book arrived at its destination in good condition and in good time. I'm sure my my dad is enjoying the read.
Published 9 months ago by Oddey
3.0 out of 5 stars An reasonably engrossing read, with a lot of baggage
As far as the book itself is concerned, this is a reasonably engrossing story. There's too much dialogue filling in historical information that makes the flow awkward. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Rodge
1.0 out of 5 stars Shameful printing quality
Extremely poor printing quality.
Do not purchase for no reason.
What a shame for such a nice book: Check for it in some book store.
Published 18 months ago by Will
5.0 out of 5 stars Shame on you slavers
True story of Alex Haley's family. After he had heard his elders talk about that African, Alex became interested in his ancestral history. Read more
Published 21 months ago by PERFECT4GIFT
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Story .... A Cloud Hangs Over It However
I remember watching the mini-series Roots on American Television from Canada and it's a culturally defining moment in many ways. Read more
Published on Aug. 14 2011 by Bart Breen
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
I never saw the mini-series and don't want to. I finished the book about three days ago, having avoided it and the film since I'm not one to jump on the bandwagon and follow a... Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for a wide variety of readers
Alex Haley's Roots has become a classic of American literature in the relatively few years since its release in 1976. Read more
Published on Dec 28 2003 by Bill R. Moore
4.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking book
The first 150 pages are rather slow but once you make it through that the book gets more interesting. Read more
Published on Dec 21 2003 by Psyche
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