55 of 64 people found the following review helpful
One of the best historical sagas written,
This review is from: Roots: The Saga of an American Family (Modern Classics) (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. And I have to confess, my favorite scene in this whole book is when Tom, shortly after being freed, comes upon a white man who had whipped him after accusing him of stealing food while working for him during the war, gives him a drink. The captain then demanded that Tom gives him a drink and Tom just looks at him steadily before walking away. He knew then that he was free and unbeholden to any white man. And Tom is my favorite character ~~ he finds a way to work around working for white men and still retaining his independence. He has the strength of The African running in his veins.
This is one book that will be sticking with me for a long time. It is rich in heritage. It is rich in dialect. It is rich in every human emotion possible, and dreams. It is rich in hope as well. This is one book that should be deemed as a classic ~~ it portrays American history in a way that we don't get to hear in classes in school. It is one dimension of a time that seeps in history ~~ and it is an African-American history. It is one that I highly recommend for everyone to read. The voices of Haley's ancestors aren't so easily forgotten. They will haunt you the next time you hear of a Civil Rights movement happening ~~ or a story about a slave ancestor. These are a people who have not forgotten their roots and where they came from. They hung onto their dreams and dignity as best as they could throughout some of the harshest times in the matters of history. And Haley captures their voices beautifully.
This is one book you won't regret picking up.