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Roots: The Saga of an American Family (Modern Classics) Hardcover – September 5, 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 362 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

''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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Classics
  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Wings; Reprint edition edition (September 5, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517208601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517208601
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (362 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #936,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In 688 pages, Alex Haley has captured in his history of one family, the history of an entire race of people whose names and identities were stolen from them. It's hard to say if this book is fiction, history or biography, since it reads so much like all three. Haley found sizeable gaps in his efforts to trace his family roots, and of necessity had to fill in the blanks from his own imagination, but it reads so convincingly that none of the fictionalized parts detract from the overall story. Probably millions of American blacks, I among them, have wondered where we came from and tried to trace our family lines, only to inevitably run up against a brick wall. (I managed to trace my own family reliably back to my great-great-great-grandmother, who arrived here at the end of the 18th century on a slave ship, but I'll never know her tribe or her nationality.) Haley begins his story fittingly in a small African village, where a 17 year old boy named Kunta Kinte is abducted by slave traders after venturing out of his village alone. His harrowing voyage to America is told in some 50 of the most gut-wrenching pages ever written. It's been reliably estimated that the death rate on the slave ships was between 35 and 40%; translated into numbers, that means that besides the 14 million Africans who were dragged, more dead than alive, onto the shores of the Americas, another 11 million died en route. Sold into slavery to a Virginia planter, Kunta lives out his life in bondage, struggling to hold onto the few remnant of his African identity.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Roots is one of the best books I've ever read, but after reading this newly released edition, I'd recommend readers find an older copy. The first section is riddled with typos and grammatical errors and so is the last section, obviously the book was edited by more than one editor because the rest of the book is perfect.

It's a disgrace that such a great book was allowed to be reprinted in such a sloppy fashion. Readers, shop around for a copy from the '70's if you want to enjoy this book as it deserves to be.
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Format: Hardcover
I am surprised that I have not read this book sooner ~~ considering how much I love biography/family histories. This is one book that will definitely go on my top 50 books.
Alex Haley writes of his seven generations of family life ~~ beginning with "The African" ~ Kunta Kinte ~ who was abducted from his village in The Gambia and ending with a brief biography of himself. From a proud African captured and forced to become a slave to freedmen and farmers, business owners and the women who prayed for the families while keeping the stories alive ... this is one book to cherish.
You struggle with Kinte's disappointments, fears, sorrow, bitterness and joy as he watches his freedom disappears into slavery. You begin to understand his anguish at losing his family, self-respect, pride and honor. You begin to understand the stoicness behind each slave's demeanor as he or she serve their masters/mistresses and their secret longings for a home they can call theirs or even live their lives without fear of being sold off to another family plantation. And you begin to understand their relief when the Civil War ended.
I have to confess, Haley's family are among the fortunate ~~ they managed to stay together through two slave-holding families ~~ though I don't understand how the Murray family can say slavery is ok. They may be more lenient than other slaveholding families ~~ but it is still wrong to hold another human being against their will simply because of their skin color.
Haley demonstrates how the intelligence of his family helped them survive the years during slavery, after Civil War and during the Reconstruction period.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book begins in the African village of Juffure in the mid-1700's with the birth of Kunta Kinte. The reader is permitted to partake in the first 17 years of Kunta's life, learning along with Kunta the customs of his people... We cheer with him when he graduates from one kafo to the next; we sit in awesome wonder as we read about all of the things he sees on his travels; and we cry out in agony as he is captured and kidnapped by slave traders. We follow Kunta to America, where he makes four failed attempts to escape before slave catchers cut off half of his foot. If more than half of the book is dedicated to Kunta, the remainder of the book is dedicated to his legacy. We follow the life stories of Kunta's daughter Kizzy and Kizzy's son Chicken George, all the way down to Alex himself -- who sits on his grandmother Cynthia's knee, over and over again hearing the story of "The African". I was so captivated by Roots that I took the book with me even to the bathroom. You will not be able to put this book down.
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