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Roots: The Saga of an American Family [Abridged, Audiobook, CD] [Audio CD]

Alex Haley , Avery Brooks
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 22 2008
One of the most important books and television series ever to appear,  Roots, galvanized the nation, and created an extraordinary political, racial, social and cultural dialogue that hadn't been seen since the publication of  Uncle Tom's Cabin. The book sold over one million copies in the first year, and the miniseries was watched by an astonishing 130 million people. It also won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.  Roots  opened up the minds of Americans of all colors and faiths to one of the darkest and most painful parts of America's past. 

Over the years, both  Roots  and Alex Haley have attracted controversy, which comes with the territory for trailblazing, iconic books, particularly on the topic of race. Some of the criticism results from whether  Roots  is fact or fiction and whether Alex Haley confused these two issues, a subject he addresses directly in the book. There is also the fact that Haley was sued for plagiarism when it was discovered that several dozen paragraphs in  Roots  were taken directly from a novel, The African, by Harold Courlander, who ultimately received a substantial financial settlement at the end of the case. 

But none of the controversy affects the basic issue.  Roots  fostered a remarkable dialogue about not just the past, but the then present day 1970s and how America had fared since the days portrayed in  Roots. Vanguard Press feels that it is important to publish  Roots: The 30th Anniversary Edition  to remind the generation that originally read it that there are issues that still need to be discussed and debated, and to introduce to a new and younger generation, a book that will help them understand, perhaps for the first time, the reality of what took place during the time of  Roots.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. It's hard to believe that it has been 30 years since Alex Haley's groundbreaking historical novel (based on his own family's history) was first published and became a worldwide phenomenon. Millions have read the story of the young African boy named Kunte Kinte, who in the late 1700s was kidnapped from his homeland and brought to the United States as a slave. Haley follows Kunte Kinte's family line over the next seven generations, creating a moving historical novel spanning 200 years. Avery Brooks proves to be the perfect choice to bring Haley's devastatingly powerful piece of American literature to audio. Brooks's rich, deep baritone brings a deliberate, dignified, at times almost reverential interpretation to his reading, but never so reserved as to forget that at its heart this is a story about people and family. His multiple characterizations manage, with a smooth and accomplished ease, to capture the true essence of each individual in the book. Michael Eric Dyson offers an informative introduction to Haley's book, but it is Brooks's performance that brings the author's words and history to life.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.


"The book is an act of love, and it is this which makes it haunting" New York Times "A gripping mixture of urban confessional and political manifesto, it not only inspired a generation of black activists, but drove home the bitter realities of racism to a mainstream white liberal audience" Observer "Groundbreaking" Associated Press "A Pulitzer Prize-winning story about the family ancestry of author Alex Haley... [and] a symbolic chronicle of the odyssey of African Americans from the continent of Africa to a land not of their choosing" Washington Post --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book June 1 2014
By FayB
Format:Kindle Edition with Audio/Video|Verified Purchase
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. I had never heard of slavery before I read this book and was in tears several times while reading it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good service Jan. 14 2014
By Oddey
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book arrived at its destination in good condition and in good time. I'm sure my my dad is enjoying the read.
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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. The story definitely loses momentum toward the end, as very little of interest happens in the final chapters compared with what has come before.

Also, despite what you read within the pages, this story has little or no historical value. It certainly does not represent a historically accurate picture of Haley's family tree, despite what he says about his "research" and his journey to Africa. Tragically, the black experience has ensured that the kind of genealogical information we crave is irretrievable. That does not excuse Haley's sloppy work and false claims, however. Unfortunately, this book also contains much plagiarism of "The African" by Harold Courlander, as has been known since a lawsuit related to it in the 1970s.

Harold Courlander's novel, from which Alex Haley stole, is justly neglected - Haley's novel could justly be neglected too. It's a good read, but not an essential or important one. When you consider the baggage that it carries, one should look elsewhere for a definitive novel about the black experience. Maybe "The Book of Negroes" by Lawrence Hill?
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1.0 out of 5 stars Shameful printing quality April 19 2013
By Will
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
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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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Most recent customer reviews
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 18 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
4.0 out of 5 stars A family story.
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". Read more
Published on March 4 2004 by J. Carruthers
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
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!! Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2004 by Mohamed Shams
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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