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)
The story is so compelling, one hardly notices that it's 30 hours long.(The next-to-last part even feels rushed.) But what makes this story really shine is the narrator, who puts in a great deal of effort in making the various speech styles sound authentic (at least to an untrained ear, they all sounded like the real deal). I wish more titles read by Avery Brooks were available.
"Roots" is not a perfect book and the controversy about some of those imperfections are well-publicized. Added to those, I was disappointed that Haley did not really give the members of the later generations of Kunta Kinte's descendants as much attention or depth as he did Kinte and his immediate family.
But even given the above, it's a wonderful story and is incredibly enhanced by the performance of Avery Brooks as narrator. Brooks' rich baritone and well-modulated emotion add further dignity to Kinte and his story. I enjoyed this audiobook very much.
If you've been intimidated to read Roots because of the book's size, definitely listen to it! I realized how little I actually knew about the slave experience. This is just fascinating. Easy to follow and an intriguing story.
Tired teacher. That is, REtired teacher.
This is one of the greatest books I have ever read. If I could give it 6 stars, I would. Everyone should read this book. It would open our eyes to the feelings of others, and it would help us see that we are all far more alike than we are different.
The narrator, Avery Brooks of "Star Trek: Deep Space 9" fame, is absolutely phenomenal. I laughed and I cried, but I cried a lot more than I laughed. It was one of those books that I hated to see come to an end.
I adored this book. It was quite different from the mini-series of the '70s. The first quarter of the book is entirely devoted to Kunta's upbringing in the Gambian jungles of Africa. It makes the impact of what happened to him -- and his subsequent genealogical generations -- that much more heartbreaking.
This is a huge book, and as such, can drag a bit here and there. But Avery Brooks as narrator does a wonderful job of keeping the audience engaged. I would eagerly listen to any of his narrations. The end of the book, however, is a bit disappointing in that you get the feeling that Haley knew this work of art was getting entirely too long in the tooth. The last three generations are somewhat rushed and not as fully developed as though that came before.
That said, this book could probably have been another 500 pages long (however many listening hours that would translate into). So the fact that Haley rushed things somewhat in the end, wasn't wholly unwelcome.
Wonderful book, heartbreaking, and eye-opening. It displays in all glory that humanity is a double-edged sword. Everyone should read or listen to this book -- you won't regret it.
I'm at 200 books from audible and this is in my top three. Coming from middle class, white America I didn't think I'd enjoy this book so much. It was spellbinding and the narration was exquisite! WOW.
An amazing story that had me in tears, and left me on the edge of my seat after listening to it. The range of emotions I experienced with this book were beyond any of my reasonable expectations. A must have book.
Audible Fan, Amazon Customer, Gardener, Quilter, Liberal and Activist. I'll read about anything!
Having seen the series on TV and read the novel twice since it was released, you'd think I would have had enough of "Roots".
Listening to the excellent narration simply adds to the enjoyment I've had for this wonderful piece of historical fiction.
There are a hundred reviews, most of the 5 star category and there is a reason for that.
It's a wonderful listen-I expect I'll listen to it again in a few years.
Worth the credit more than almost any book I've purchased on audible.
Love a great book that stays with you long after you've finished it.
Everyone should read this book, we owe it to ourselves, our continent, the people here, and the people in Africa. Wonderful, rich novel full of history, beautifully narrated. I read this book 20 years ago, saw the movie 25 years ago, but I got the most from this audio version. Make sure you listen to the very end, powerful.
I'm a mom. I have drama in my life. I don't want books with the F-bomb, nor graphic violence. I read for fun and to bring my family together. I read for reducing stress levels. We have never had a television in our home and our children are now mid twenties to 19. We listen together and look for belly-wrenching laughter. So what is it like to live without a TV? Awesomely educational and inspirational. Each new book is a marvel.
I loved this book. Avery Brooks did a fantastic job reading this novel it was hard to pull myself away from the story. A great deal of research went into this novel, and Alex Haley's story at the end of the novel was truly appreciated. Worth the many hours of listening. This book should be mandatory reading for anyone who thinks there are no consequences to our actions. Strong families make for strong communities. Incredible writing and reading.
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