Audie Award Winner, Non-fiction, 2008
It begins with a birth in an African village in 1750, and ends two centuries later at a funeral in Arkansas. And in that time span, an unforgettable cast of men, women, and children come to life, many of them based on the people from Alex Haley's own family tree.
When Alex was a boy growing up in Tennessee, his grandmother used to tell him stories about their family, stories that went way back to a man she called the African who was taken aboard a slave ship bound for Colonial America.
As an adult, Alex spent 12 years searching for documentation that might authenticate what his grandmother had told him. In an astonishing feat of genealogical detective work, he discovered the name of the "African" - Kunta Kinte - as well as the exact location of the village in West Africa from where he was abducted in 1767.
Roots is based on the facts of his ancestry, and the six generations of people - slaves and freedmen, farmers and lawyers, an architect, teacher, and one acclaimed author - descended from Kunta Kinte.
©1974 Alex Haley. Renewed 2004 by Myran Haley, Cynthia Haley, Lydia Haley, and William Haley; (P)2007 BBC Audiobooks America
The parts with Kunta Kinte and Chicken George are interesting and entertaining. Luckily they take up the majority of the book. The last few hours of the book are rushed as the writer sounds like he's just listing off facts about his family rather than telling a tale. Throughout the book as the writer tries to weave historical events into the book, he doesn't do a very good job of it. Most of that stuff other than the civil war seems to be an afterthought he included to give the reader an idea of what else was going on in the world, but he didn't work it into the story at all. The writing is decent but not great though dialog is very well written.
All that said, the parts with Kunta Kinte and Chicken George are great overall. The characters are fleshed out very nicely, giving a very deep understanding of them. The other characters in the book are not nearly as well realized.
Avery Brooks does an awesome job reading.
Worth listening to. A historically important book for sure. It's a very strong experience but not as amazing as a book as some seem to think.
Anyway, those are my 2 cents of nonsense.
I have a new favorite book and this is it! I had to pull over for a good 30 min to have a good cry at the end. This book is powerful in so many ways. A MUST READ/LISTEN!!!!!
A far cry from the movie. This book is incredible..and the reading of it puts you right there. I could not stop listening. I felt like I was there with each character.
Although this book is not new, I read it because I had heard so much about it over the years.
I was not disappointed! The book started out slow, and I had to stick with it during the years in Africa. But, I am so thankful that I did, because the story progressed to be one of the best I have ever read. It was rich with characters, and it was educational at the same time. The narration could not have been better. I feel that I was transported to another time and deeply know generations of an African American family.
I remember watching "Roots" on television as a child. When I came across it on Audible, it occurred to me that I had never read the book. It was very enjoyable; there were just a few times when I thought the author dwelled too long on one subject i.e. cockfighting.
I really enjoyed the afterword in which Alex Haley explains how he came to write the book and the extensive research he did. Worth it.
I love literary fiction and I occasionally delve into non-fiction. I love books that are suspenseful and am really into well-told stories.
When I was about 12, the miniseries Roots came out on TV and my mom let us stay up late to watch it and I recently re-watched it on NetFlix because my husband never saw it. I don't remember how long it was...but it was pretty long, so I figured that I didn't miss anything. WRONG! The book is so much more detailed. I will admit that it gets bogged down a bit toward the 25 hour mark because there are just too many characters to deal with...but since it's a biography, that's just how it is. That is my only tiny quibble with the book.
It is read so beautifully by Avery Brooks that I may seek him out just to see what else he has narrated. His performance is just amazing.
But the real surprise is the afterwards that Mr. Haley wrote for the 30 year anniversary of the book. Even if you have read Roots years ago, I wold recommend this new version because of the beauty of the narration. I would bet that the afterwards is on the web somewhere, but I haven't looked. It's a long book, but I finished it in 4 days. I cancelled my life... I just could not tear myself away. The characters felt so familiar to me from watching the movie of it...but it goes into so much greater depth and the book really begins before Kunta Kinte is born and I really loved the structure of the book as it just follows each character whether they are sold off or whatever else happens to them because Mr. Haley is just following his own family tree (otherwise the book would be encyclopedic) even though I wanted to know (for instance) what happened to "Toby" and "Belle" when Kizzy was taken away. Many stories were compressed for TV.
Even if you feel you know the story, you don't. I thought I did and I was just amazed. A fantastic read made even better by the amazing narration and the "new" afterward. One of the best books I have ever read. 5 stars for the writing and I wish I could give 10 stars for the performance by Avery Brooks.
Just be prepared to call in sick once you start listening to it.
This brought out a range of emotions from me anger, sadness, and happiness. I'm so glad that I didn't see the series because I was able to picture everything in my mind thanks to the OUTSTANDING narration by Mr. Avery Brooks. And, certainly Mr. Alex Haley is an outstanding author whose family should be nothing short of proud of him - I truly admire this man who went to such great lengths to find out and write about his family history.
The miniseries was a blockbuster on TV, naturally, and I enjoyed it as a young person at the time. I have not seen it in many years, and thought it would be nice to understand more by listening to the book. It was very well done, with excellent narration. The longer percentage of the book devoted to Africa than the TV movie made sense, and allowed me to appreciate what happened to Kunta Kinte when he left that world to come to the US to be a slave. Plus, my frustration that many of the main characters were not able to be reunited was minuscule compared to how they would have felt.
I watched the movie with my family when I was a child, and never forgot it. It touched all of us then, and it shakes me now. Twice I had to wipe the tears away while listening on my ipod, and countless times I found myself saying, "oh my God" and shaking my head in disbelief. This is a story like no other, and the narrator, Avery Brooks, was masterful with his engaging deep voice and emotionally charged inflections that easily transformed from man to woman to child, in pain, in joy, in desperation, in love, and everything in between.
DO NOT PASS THIS UP - IT'S ONE OF THE ABSOLUTE BEST!
No matter where you go... there you are!
This American masterpiece should be required reading in high school. Outstanding prose, suspense, emotion and true American history.
One thing I brought away from this classic was that black Americans and white Americans are neither black nor white. The genes have been so mixed that we are all a combination of many ethnic backgrounds.
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