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
"Being the consummate actor, [narrator Avery] Brooks has immersed himself into the role of narrator. In fact, it is difficult to describe what Avery Brooks does in this audiobook. He neither narrates nor performs, rather, he conjures. He brings the plethora of characters to life as memory, as history, as the pawns of diaspora. His narration begins in reverential tones as an homage to a literary masterwork, yet he ends it as a roar against racism." (AudioFile)
audio book junkie
I wanted to read this novel because it's something I grew up hearing about referenced in popular culture and I wanted to know this story first hand. I was nervous it would be boring but I was wrong.
Alex Haley's writing is clean and simple, it makes Roots very easy to listen to. Despite its length, the tone of this novel is timeless. This tale starts out so strong with the story of Kunta Kinte following his life from childhood through his golden years. The first part of the novel is filled with rich detail making it clear why Roots is such a piece of history.
The second half of the novel starts to lose steam. Haley covers generation after generation with less and less detail creating less and less of a connection with the characters. It felt like he was so desperate to take this story to the modern day that he rushed to get there at the cost of character building. Also, sidenote, there is a ridiculous amount of writing about cock fighting in the second half that I wish he had spent detailing the lives and times of the characters at hand instead.
All that said I think it's a great book. I think the first half is strong enough to carry the weakness of the second half. If you've got a LOT of hours to spare this novel is definitely worth your time.
I learned so much about Africa, slavery, and US History, but always through the eyes and ears of Kunta Kintae and his descendants. It was not always an easy listen, but I guess hearing and knowing the true stories of what happened is important.
The beginning was a little slow and I almost didn't make it through Africa, but in the end I was glad that I did. I can see why this is considered a literary classic and will add to that reputation that it still holds up even for us not-too-literary types.
First you cannot listen to this and not enjoy Avery Brooks' voice and his fantastic voice acting. He really brought this book alive.
Second the story is very detailed on the horrors of being a slave. At times it exciting and well at time it's boring. But it the moments of new info and insight that keeps you listening.
As a disclaimer I have never seen the miniseries or TV movies. This was my first interaction with the material and I am happy I finally got to it. This work has been on my "to read" list for over a decade. Thank you BBC American and Audible for offering a well put together audio reading of this material.
After seeing the television production and reading the book, I thoroughly enjoyed the audio version. As an amateur archeologist, I have been intrigued by the story of Alex Haley for a number of years. Definitely a classic!
I like good books...
I thought this was a great book! I have been familiar with the story from the TV series but had never watched the whole series or read the book until now.
All I can say is that this is both a sobering and inspiring story!
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