Reviews

ROOTS: The Saga of an American Family, The 30th Anniversary Edition

Editorial Review - Kirkus - Jane Doe

If you are of a certain age and were anywhere near the United States in early 1977, you probably remember the bona fide social phenomenon that was the first airing of the miniseries Roots. For a week in late January, across the country, Roots parties were the rage, while across all media a national conversation began on the always uncomfortable question of slavery and its contribution to America's ... Read full review

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I would like to make a correction to Haley's book. My ancestors were cousins of the Holts from Alamance county. It is true that there was a Holt who had extensive property and commercial interests in Alamance County. He also owned many slaves. His grandfather's land was indeed where the first battle of Patriots and Englishmen was fought years before Lexington and Concord.
Although the Holt family was indeed German, they were not from Pennsylvania as is stated in the book. They were from Virginia. It is well documented that they are descendants of Michael Hold (pronounced Holt in German), who was a member of the Second Germanna Colony who arrived in 1717. This group's ship was hijacked enroot to Pennsylvania by Alexander Spotswood who wished to exploit their mining skills because he mistakenly thought there was gold or silver in the Virginia mountains. The Holts who migrated to North Carolina after their indenture received land grants from the King of England.
 

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I love this book but the above downplays the plaigarism stating that "a couple of dozen paragraphs"was plaigarized? Try 81 pages, which is the truth. This is a wonderful, mostly fictional (faction) account of the author's family, but it is mostly fictional.

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Haley has written a good book. The previous review says that there has been lot of plagiarism and i wont take sides as i am too lazy to cross check the claims by any of them. It is a good read. Dont read it thinking that Haley is actually narrating his ancestral story. Jus read it as fiction and have a peep into the life of African slaves back in 1800s and also some views on life in Africa. Good read but the talk between slaves is really difficult to understand which actually spans good 400+ pages.
While reading the book I wondered why did Haley put so much effort and details in describing life in Africa and reduced the portion that happened in America. I feel that since he had projected his work as tracing his genealogy, he wanted other African-Americans to feel how their own ancestors were brought and enslaved in America. Even if the events were not real, the book gives us a glimpse of the tortures and atrocities that white men cast on slaves.
Overall a good read - 4/5.
 

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love this book

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Alex Hailty has admitted that a large section of his book including the plot, main character and scores of whole passages - was lifted from "The African," a 1967 novel by author Hal Courlander.
In
the early 1980s, when Alex Haley, the author of "Roots," was speaking at Lincoln Center, investigative reporter Philip Nobile asked him a straightforward question. Since he had paid Harold Courlander $650,000 in a plagiarism suit, why shouldn't Haley be considered a criminal instead of a hero? Haley had no answer.
But plagiarism is the least of the problems in "Roots." And they would likely have remained largely unknown, had journalist Philip Nobile not undertaken a remarkable study of Haley's private papers shortly before they were auctioned off.
The result was featured in a devastating 1993 cover piece in the Village Voice. It confirmed - from Haley's own notes - earlier claims that the alleged history of the book was a near-total invention.
"Virtually every genealogical claim in Haley's story was false," Nobile has written. None of Haley's early writing contains any reference to his mythic ancestor, "the African" named Kunta Kinte. Indeed, Haley's later notes give his family name
as "Kante," not "Kinte."
And a long-suppressed tape of the famous session in which Haley " found" Kunta Kinte through the recitation of an African "griot" proves that, as BBC producer James Kent noted, "the villagers [were] threatened by members of Haley's party.
These turn out to be senior government officials desperate to ensure that things go
smoothly."
Haley, added Kent, "specifically asks for a story that will fit
his predetermined American narrative."
Historical experts who checked Haley's genealogical research discovered that, as one put it, "Haley got everything wrong in his pre-Civil War lineage and none of his
plantation ancestors existed; 182 pages have no basis in fact."
Given this damning evidence, you'd think Haley's halo would long ago have vanished.
The judge who presided over Haley's plagiarism case admitted that "I did not want to destroy him" and so allowed him to settle quietly - even though, he acknowledged, Haley had repeatedly perjured himself in court.
 

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the best that i keep on re-reading for my children and their children.

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This is the one of the best novel suggestsed by my english professor......ramkotap

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The First Edition of Roots was spellbinding, it drew me in completely. I had read it so many times the pages were falling out, so I thought I'd buy the 30th Anniversary Edition. DO NOT BUY THIS EDITION! There are so many spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors that halfway through you're convinced that you're reading another book entirely. If you want to read Roots in all its glory, find the first printing of it and save yourself the $20 on the 30th Anniversary Edition. 

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Considering the book was plagiarized en masse from anthropologist Harold Courlander and the details of "toby's" life completely fabricated with a slant against caucasians, it should be shelved and forgotten about.

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