Roots by Alex Haley - summary and review
Roots the book, A saga of an American Family
When a book wins a special prize from a Pulitzer board and the National Book Award there must be something special about it. As a Sri Lankan I had a brief idea about the American History but I had no idea of the struggles faced by the Black Americans in the early days until I read this book. Slavery was the root of black Americans and in the early days they were treated like animals , but it says a lot about American People and the democracy in that country that a black American is now ruling them. You don't have to be a black American or even an American to be connected with the characters in this book. A true story spanning six generations the book is story telling at its best, From the African village Juffure in Gambia , slave galleys , slavery to chicken fighting this book is filled with history , culture and mannerisms. A look at American History in a fascinating way.
Roots and other book by Alex Haley
Roots on DVD
Roots by Alex Haley , summary of the book
It all starts in 1750 , with a birth of a boy in the African village Juffure. Kunta kinte is his name and the first part of the story revolves around him , his childhood , his training to be an adult and you get an idea about the life and culture of a Muslim African village. Then he is captured by the slavers and sold to a plantation. There you get introduced to Bell , Kuntas to be wife and the struggles of Kunta to accept the fact that he is a slave , someone who is owned by someone else. A struggle between his will to escape and be a free man or accept the fact he is a slave. Then Kunta and Bell gets married and Kizzy is born. Then Kizzy is sold because she commits a crime and the new owner rapes kizzy. This is a powerful passage of the book where it shows how families were broken up and suffered because of slavery and how slave owners treated slaves like property having there way with them whenever they wanted. Kizzy also marries and have children the most famous of them all Chicken George was fathered by the slave owner Tom Lea. The story of George is mostly about chicken fighting , he marries Mathilda and they save money to buy themselves out of slavery. But tragic events and Chicken Georges greed ends that chance. Mathilda gives birth to many children and Tom is the eldest , he turns himself into a fine blacksmith as well. This is the period where the war ends and the slaves are given freedom. This passage takes a look at how they dealt with freedom after living so long as slaves. Tom marries Irene and Cynthia is one of there daughters. Cynthia marries Simon Haley and he they give birth to the child named Alex Haley.
Mixture of emotion , culture and History
As I mentioned before as a Sri Lanka who have very little idea of slavery and American history I thouroughly enjoyed the book. The emotions and the suffering of the slaves are described very vividly by the author and there are so many instance where your heart goes out for them wishing for the best and hoping something can be done about it. The passage of the book where Kunta was first taken to slavery and also the scene where Kizzy was sold and there parents were weeping was personaly very sad moments for me. If you are an Ameican this is one of the best books you can read about the slavery and how much slaves suffered during that period. A must read for any book lover.
Breaking of Kunta , From the TV series based on Roots by Alex Haley
Critcism and paying damages for Plagiarism
Although Roots won many awards and the TV series and other works based on it won many awards his claims of Roots being a true story suffered heavy setbacks. First of all there is the incident where he had to pay 650,000$ because of plagiarism because some paragraphs of the book appeared on The African by Harold Courlander. A lack of evidence to support the historical claims was another reason why Haley's reputation took a pounding. When the the book was first released it created such stir in America most people were reluctant to come forward with these claims of false data. The book publishers and the producers of the TV shows never took much interest in the accusations of false claims because they were making good profit from selling the book and the TV show.
Even if the historical facts cannot be verified and although Alex Haley paid damages because of plagiarism there is no denying the fact that this is a great book. I thouroughly enjoyed reading at I have no doubt anyone who loves book will enjoy reading this book too :-)
More useful links
- A Quiver full of Arrows by Jeffrey Archer
Quiver full of Arrows by Jeffery Archer, a collection of twelve short stories
- Deception Point by Dan Browne
After reading Da Vinci Code I began to like Dan Brown and after reading Angels and Demons I became a fan. So when I saw Deception point by Dan Brown in the library I didn't hesitate to borrow it straightaway....