Roots

Introduction

Roots: The Saga of an American Family is a novel written by Alex Haley and first published in 1976. It tells the story of Kunta Kinte, an 18th-century African, captured as an adolescent, sold into slavery in Africa, transported to North America; following his life and the lives of his descendants in the United States 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, and it is considered to be one of the most important U.S. works of the 20th century. The novel spent forty-six weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List, including twenty-two weeks at number one. The last seven chapters of the novel were later adapted in the form of a second miniseries, Roots: The Next Generations (1979). It stimulated interest in genealogy and appreciation for African-American history.

The book was originally described as "fiction," yet sold in the non-fiction section of bookstores. Haley spent the last chapter of the book describing his research in archives and libraries to support his family's oral tradition with written records. However, historians and genealogists found critical errors in his research. Most of the novel is either unsupported or contradicted by the available evidence.


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