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)
Please DO NOT look up this book on Wikipedia before reading it! It will dilute the impact of the story. Trust me! I haven't read such a lengthy novel since World Without End and this is comparable. The time frame spans around 200 years. This story gives the reader a renewed perspective of slavery and racism and heightens our sensitivity to the issue. The narrator did a superb job handling the African accents as they transformed into American southern accents. There were some harsh interjections of historical accounts that felt forced, but added to the situation. I listened comfortably on 1.5X speed. Overall, I wouldn't hesitate to use a credit on this one. If any of this review helped, please click YES below. Later.
Avery Brooks is a master narrator. He takes on dozens of characters each with such distinction and rhythm it's as if, following the heart of the book, this story is being told to you instead of read to you. At times I was convinced Mr. Brooks had memorized this entire book, his reading so smooth and eloquent. He is the perfect choice for such an important work. Roots was Excellent in every way.
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.
Alex Haley's masterpiece comes to life on audio with this narration by the very talented Avery Brooks. Roots is a must read/listen to everyone in my opinion and I gained a new found perspective of African-American culture after revisiting Roots. Emotionally taken over at times, I listened with tears in my eyes.
Of the well over a hundred audio books I've listened to, Avery Brooks is hands down the best narrator I've ever heard. His cadence, accents, and personalities given to the characters is just outstanding.
Longtime Audible enthusiast!
I know that since its publication there has been a good deal of controversy surrounding this book. Alex Haley was accused of plagarism regarding a few paragraphs from a book titled THE AFRICAN. He was reported to have paid a settlement as a result. Also, many question the historical veracity of some of the characters and details in the story, of which Haley makes no apology, employing necessary poetic license to bring this story to life. And he succeeded marvelously in his effort.
Roots is a tremendous novel, beautifully written and entirely engaging througout. The reader, Avery Brooks does a masterful job, actually enhancing the listening experience. I was amazed at how he effortlessly switched between the accents of the Africans, slaves and southern whites.
Without hesitation, I recommend this audiobook.
In 1976 I purchased the book ROOTS. Alex Haley put down on paper, in print, what he had discovered about his family tree through a labor of love,with much time, and effort.
My hobby has been genealogy so this particular project interested me. A great aunt of mine had put together a family tree in the mid sixties and I found it fascinating
When Roots was shown on television we watched and thoroughly enjoyed the program for several nights.
When it became available on VHS I again had to have it and appreciated it again. Last year we bought the DVD set and loved it all over again!
This past week I have been reading (listening) to the audible.com offering of Roots.
Today I finished the book. I sat in front of my computer at work and listened on my MP3 player. As I listened I could absolutely SEE Levar Burton (young Kunta Kinte, John Amos (older Kunta Kinte), Ben Vereen (Chicken George), Leslie Uggams (Kizzie), Louis Gossett, Jr, and many other extremely talented actors who performed those roles in the made for TV movie back in the seventies, I found myself in tears during the last two hours of the book.
Alex Haley said he cried when he heard confirmation of what he had been told over and over as he grew up.
He gave us all so much to be grateful for. His laborious work, while disputed with plagiarism charges, is an invaluable lesson to all.
Avery Brooks (narrator) brings it all to life in a fabulous way!
I highly recommend this audible book to all!
I don't typically write reviews, but this book was so powerful that I felt compelled to encourage others to listen to it. I saw the mini-series decades ago, but hearing the full story narrated really captures the imagination and allows you to enter into the world of what it might have been like being a slave. Although slavery is not an enjoyable topic--the lives and integrity of the characters rises above the topic and you find yourself engrossed in the storyline. Give this one a listen!
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.
"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.
How incredible this story is. I wish it could be a mandatory read for older teens...There is so much to learn in it's pages. Avery Brooks is phenomenal..This is a story that will have you crying and laughing and wondering how these things could have happened. I did see the movie many years ago and can safely say the book goes deeper and tells the story in a much larger way... I'm not a writer and I don't have adequate words to express how wonderful this listen was...I can only highly recommend...
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