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Roots: The Saga of An American Family

Roots is a novel written by Alex Haley and published in 1976. It portrays the story of Kunta Kinte, an 18th-century African, captured as an adolescent and sold into slavery in the United States, and follows his life and the lives of his alleged descendants in the U.S. down to Haley. The release of the novel, combined with its hugely popular television adaptation, Roots (1977), led to a cultural sensation in the United States. The novel spent 46 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List, including 22 weeks in that list's top spot. The last seven chapters of the novel were later adapted in the form of a second mini-series, Roots: The Next Generations, in 1979.

Roots: The Saga of An American Family (Audiobook)

Roots: The Saga of an American Family (Audiobook)Roots: The Saga of An American Family (1976)

This monumental Pulitzer Prize-winning saga and iconic bestseller is available for the first time on audio. Roots begins with a birth in an African village in 1750, and ends two centuries later at a funeral in Arkansas. 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.

Growing up in Tennessee, Alex's grandmother told him stories about their family 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 twelve 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—and 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 freemen, farmers and lawyers, an architect, a teacher—and one acclaimed author who descended from Kunta Kinte.

"As I look at it now," says Alex Haley, "it seems there was a meant-to-be quality about Roots. I first heard the story told by my grandmother as a child, that was the real beginning... Whenever we children came around, she would repeat the story of the man she called 'the African', how he was captured and what happened to him in America.

"After a while, we started acting out the incidents, play-acting, recreating everything she told us, and it became an indelible memory for me... Although it's advertised as nonfiction, perhaps we should call it 'faction', Every statement in Roots is accurate in terms of authenticity... The beginning is a re-creation, using novelistic techniques, but as it moves forward more is known and it is more factually based."

Roots: The Saga of An American Family • TV Mini-Series (1977)

Roots: The Saga of an American Family TV Mini-Series (1977)Roots: The Saga of An American Family Mini-Series

Alex Haley (1921-1992) is the celebrated author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family (1976). By April 1977 almost two million hardcover copies of the book had been sold and 130 million people had seen all or part of the eight-episode television series. Roots is thus considered by many critics a classic in African American literature and culture.

Plot: A dramatization of Alex Haley's family line from ancestor Kunta Kinte's enslavement to his descendants' liberation. A saga of African American life based on Haley's family history. Kunta Kinte is abducted from his African village, sold into slavery and taken to America. Kinte makes several escape attempts until he is finally caught and maimed.

Kinte marries Bell, his plantation's cook, and they have a daughter, Kizzy, who is eventually sold away from them. Kizzy has a son by her new master, and the boy grows up to become Chicken George, a legendary fighter who leads his family into freedom. Throughout the series, the family observes notable events in U.S. history, such as the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, slave uprisings, and emancipation.

After the Civil War, the family moves to Henning, Tennessee. Upon Chicken George's death, Tom Murray, his son, asserts his position as patriarch and emphasizes the importance of the family and the oral tradition to his children. Both of these ideas are perpetuated by Tom's daughter, Cynthia, and other female members of the Murray family. Cynthia's daughter Bertha, who evinces little interest in the family narrative, goes away to college, where she meets and marries Simon Alexander Haley. While Haley is a graduate student at Cornell, their first son is born, Alexander Haley.

Alex Haley spends a lot of time in Henning as a child, developing a close relationship with his grandfather, Will Palmer, and his grandmother, Cynthia Palmer, and great aunts, particularly after his mother, Bertha, dies. After growing up and becoming a writer, Haley decides to research the family stories he so often heard as a child.

Roots • Cast Members

•  LeVar Burton - Kunta Kinte•  John Amos - Kunta Kinte (Adult)•  Cicely Tyson - Binta
•  Thalmus Rasulala - Omoro Kinte•  Maya Angelou - Nyo Boto•  Ji-Tu Cumbuka - Wrestler
•  O.J. Simpson - Kadi Touray•  Moses Gunn - Kintango•  Hari Rhodes - Brima Cesay
•  Ren Woods - Fanta•  Beverly Todd - Fanta (Adult)•  Ernest Lee Thomas - Kailuba
•  Edward Asner - Captain Davies•  Ralph Waite - Third Mate Slater•  Louis Gossett, Jr. - Fiddler
•  Lorne Greene - John Reynolds•  Lynda Day George - Mrs. Reynolds•  Vic Morrow - Ames (Overseer)
•  Paul Shenar - John Carrington•  Robert Reed - Dr. William Reynolds•  Madge Sinclair - Belle Reynolds
•  Gary Collins - Grill•  Raymond St. Jacques - The Drummer•  Chuck Connors - Tom Moore
•  Sandy Duncan - Missy Anne Reynolds•  Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs - Noah•  John Schuck - Ordell
•  Leslie Uggams - Kizzy Reynolds•  Macdonald Carey - Squire James•  Olivia Cole - Mathilda
•  Scatman Crothers - Mingo•  George Hamilton - Stephen Bennett•  Carolyn Jones - Mrs. Moore
•  Ian McShane - Sir Eric Russell•  Lillian Randolph - Sister Sara•  Richard Roundtree - Sam Bennett
•  Ben Vereen - Chicken George Moore•  Lloyd Bridges - Evan Brent•  Georg Stanford Brown - Tom Harvey
•  Brad Davis - Ol' George Johnson•  Lane Binkley - Martha Johnson•  Hilly Hicks - Lewis
•  Doug McClure - Jemmy Brent•  Lynne Moody - Irene Harvey•  Burl Ives - Sen. Arthur Johnson
•  Thayer David - Harlan•  Roxie Roker - Melissa•  Austin Stoker - Virgil
•  John Quade - Sheriff Biggs•  Charles Cyphers - Drake•  Todd Bridges - Bud
•  Ross Chapman - Sergeant Williams•  Grand L. Bush - Caught Runaway Slave•  Yvonne De Carlo - Slave Owner's Wife

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