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
Spreadhead and Biblioholic.
I'm not sure what finally got me to read this. As a white southerner, I went into this with the expectation of being hit in the head again and again with the injustices of my ancestors. In this I was correct. And yet...
The story itself is first-rate. I have never read anything else by Haley (the Playboy interviews were published long before I was interested in any of the written material ), but the plot and the prose were both sufficient to keep me interested and make the endeavor feel more literary than mere popular fiction. The only part I felt dragged on a bit was the initial portion, when Kunta is in Africa and has not been captured yet. The subsequent story moves with relative speed across several hundred years of American history.
The white "masters" are not single dimensional. There are random and touching acts of kindness by them, mixed up with random acts of cruelty and the constant systemic injustice. At no point is the utter wrongness of the peculiar institution downplayed, but there are some touching scenes of basic human compassion breaking through the societal and legal norms. Perhaps most poignant is the scene where the white nabobs of Lauderdale County ask Haley's grandfather to assume ownership of the town lumber mill with their financial backing.
The narration is excellent. Avery Brooks sounds a lot like James Earl Jones and has the perfect voice for this story. I would pay to hear him read the telephone book out loud.
I was a little disappointed to read, after finishing the book, assertions that Haley had fabricated certain key elements of the story which had been presented as true. And yet even if he made the whole thing up, it is still an interesting and compelling read.
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.
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.
I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath
THE PRETTIER SHE IS.
A lot of you probably think that Jim, The Impatient would not listen to a book 30 hours long. You would be wrong. If well written I can listen forever. This is very well written, is interesting and should be required reading in our schools. Just like the Holocaust, we should be reminded just how evil man can get, in order to keep us from doing it again. You can read books of history which give you the numbers and the straight facts, but only in a book like this can you live it and half way understand. This story will remain in my head until I die.
TENDING RICE WAS WOMEN'S WORK
The first couple of hours are good, but not as good as the rest of the book. The story really starts to happen when the main character grows up. The introduction is poor. The individual that does the intro, makes it sound like the book has all it's facts wrong and makes you wonder if you should listen on. Listen on. The last chapters do seem rushed and makes you believe Haley should have finished the book earlier and written another book to cover the rest of the material. The last hour is Haley explaining what he went through to write the book. I always appreciate it when the author does that.
The narrator is excellent.
AIN'T I TELLING YOU AS FAST AS I CAN.
I had seen the Roots miniseries many times growing up and I have to say I enjoyed the audio version ten times more. I have always loved James Earl Jones voice and thought it would be nice to have him as a narrator but I was unprepared for the excellent way he devoted his talents to telling this story. His voice acting is unparalleled.
He creates and maintains a different voice for over a dozen characters and sometimes as many as 6 are talking in the same conversation and you know exactly who is saying what because of his efforts. His female characters are just as authentic sounding as the male ones. The only downside is that after listening to this all subsequent fiction narration has fallen very flat for me, and I have been purchasing more non-fiction titles.
I LOVE books. And dogs & quilting & beading & volunteering.
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.
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.
Beautiful and moving storytelling by Haley, I had forgotten how good the book was. The narration makes the story come to life. Very well done!
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