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79
4.6 out of 5 stars
Roots
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2001
I finished reading this book a few months ago but it is still with me. I am still haunted by the images of the innocent and beautifully characterised Kunta Kinte being snatched from his village in Juffure. This book was my insight into American history and I was unable to put it down until it was finished. I lived the horrors with Kunta Kinte and followed all the subsequent generations through their lives, and I did become one of them. This is the most amazing book you will every read. Please read it, every thinking man and woman should read this and spare a thought for the atrocities that happened in the past.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 October 2014
One of the most amazing books I have ever read. Should be compulsory reading for everyone. I have bought this as a present for nearly everyone I know.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 2 July 1999
I could not put this book down. I wish I had taken the time to read this book earlier in my life! It tells a wonderful tale of Kunte Kinte, an African man who is stolen from his African tribe in Ghana and made a slave in the 'new world.' I loved the story, even though it was one of the saddest stories I had ever read. By the end of the book I felt like I knew Kunte and his whole family extremely well. It's great when you read a book and it 'stays with you' for weeks afteward. I feel that way about 'Roots.' It really is a great book, one which left me with a great feeling of sadness for what Kunte's family (and so many others!) went through, but also with a feeling of hope for the future. The book is beautifully written. The description of Africa was lovely. If you're considering this book, you really should buy it.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Hayley's 'Roots' is easily one of the best and most vivid books I have ever read. It is a modern classic and it comes with my 100% recommendation.
Roots is a account of the life of Kunta Kente, a young African boy, captured and shipped to the US to work as a slave. The book details the start of his life from his birth in 1750 in a village called Juffire in Gambia in the West of Africa. As a young boy Kunta is captured and subsequently transport across the sea to be sold as a slave. Kunta is shipped to and sold in the State of Virginia, first by a harsh master and thus he runs away four times, with no place to go his is re-caught and eventually sold to a new 'master' who is much softer than the first. Kunta eventually accepts his fate and the book goes on to detail his working life with his new master, his marriage the housemaid Belle and the birth of their daughter Kizzy. In some ways the book has a happy ending as Kunte is eventually freed but at the end of the day this book is about slavery, a practise that was inhumane and unforgivable.
At times It is a shocking and graphic account of the maltreatment and suffering endured by those taken as slaves. Both in America but particularly the parts in which Kunta details his experiences on the ship across the Atlantic, where he estimates that the death rate could reach as high as 40%, given the unsanitary conditions, with bodies just chucked mercilessly into the sea. This disturbing account will stay with me always, it is appalling to think that so many thousands of innocent people undertook such horrific times, stolen from their homelands in order to ensure that the USA became the richest country in the World.....
Passionately written and factually correct, the book has definite educational value as well as being a great read. It is actually based on the real ancestral history traced back seven generations to the Gambia by Alex Hayley himself. Of course many of the details will be fictional but this doesn’t damage the story in any way.
As the story follows Kunte throughout his entire life consequently it is LONG and some might see this as a disadvantage! It's one of the longest books I've ever read it fact, a good 800-900 pages, but it is well worth the time. It's totally engaging and impossible to put down once you have really got into it, I'd recommend it as a holiday read, or sometime when you've got the time to really get it to it. Also be aware that at times the language can be a little difficult to comprehend, there is a lot of slang involved, but as long as you persist then it gets easier to read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2014
I first heard of Roots during a conversation with my Dad about the newly released film ’12 Years a Slave’. My Dad said that it sounded similar to an old TV series that he watched called Roots. I had forgotten all about that conversation until I was in an old bookstore in Bali and I spotted Roots on the shelves, right at eye-level. It was a new copy with really nice ‘parchment-like’ edges and I figured it was fate telling me to purchase it, so I did.

As I’m sure most people know, Roots is a account of the life of Kunta Kinte, a young African boy, who is captured and shipped to the US to work as a slave. We follow Kunta right from his birth in 1750, in a village called Juffire in Gambia in the West of Africa, through to adulthood. Kunta is captures as a teenager and shipped to and sold in the State of Virginia. He tries to run away from his first master four times but with no place to go his is re-caught and eventually sold to a new master. Kunta eventually accepts his fate and the book goes on to detail his working life with his new master and his life moving forward.

As you would expect, at times the book is shocking and has many graphic accounts of the maltreatment and suffering endured by those taken as slaves. The section of the book that covers the crossing across the Atlantic is very hard to stomach but gripping. The book is a long book (as we cover Kunta’s whole life) but I was gripped and could not put it down. The images are haunting and the descriptions are very real. I liked that the language changed as you discovered new characters as they learnt new languages. I felt that this added to the richness of the book and I didn’t have any trouble understanding them.

The book is based on the real ancestral history traced back seven generations to the Gambia by Alex Hayley and the worst part of the whole book is that you know that this is based on this truth; this really happened, and happened to many, many people over many, many generations.

Once I started reading this, this was a book that I was thinking about the whole time I wasn’t reading it and I am still thinking about it now, even after I have finished it. I feel that this is a brilliant account of the times and tragedy of that situation.
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42 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Told in the true style of griots, this story gripped my emotions from beginning to end. The last time I read it was 6 years ago and never has a book stayed with me more than Roots. The first time I read it was actually whilst visiting Gambia and it made me a far more popular person with the Gambians, they are very proud to be linked with the names Alex Haley and Kunta Kinte and rightly so. We all know the story by now, but it is the passion of Alex Haley's writing which makes this such a compelling read, the love he feels for his subject draws the reader in with such power it is impossible to let go. This book was the first time I had really come into contact with the slave trade, and I can truthfully say something in this book changed me forever, I really had my eyes opened to the trade in human flesh and knew what humans were capable of doing to each other. I never wanted this book to end, but when it did I cried tears of joy, sadness and knowledge. Thank you so much Alex Haley for sharing your family's story with us, it is something I will never forget.
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on 21 July 2015
I first read this book many years ago when I was a teenager, and decided to read it again. It was every bit as good as I remembered it. I did not realise the first time round that it is actually a journey through the authors ancestry and, for me, this made the book even better.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 6 March 2001
I have just finished reading the book - about an hour ago! And I felt the urge to write about it!I have read soooo many books - both classics and contemporary - but I have never read one that moved me in such a way as this one! I was in floods of tears! I am seriously considering buying all of the videos - which are £18.00 each! I couldn't put it down for the 688 pages - I have read it in lectures at University, on the train - I even had to take it out my bag at the bus stop the other day!
This book has disrupted my social life for the past week!! Read it now!!!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2000
I'm so glad I read this book. It was both upsetting and uplifting. Upsetting because of the horrors inflicted on the African people by so-called civilised people; uplifting because of the strength of character and determination of those who suffered unimaginable horrors and indignities. Slaves were considered sub-human; I think it's fair to say that such a label is more applicable to those who bought and sold them. Descriptions of rural Africa, through the eyes of the young Kunta Kinte, showed a close-knit community with a proud history, as described by the wise men (griots). Particularly moving was the description of how Alex Hayley went back to the village of Kunte Kinte and heard that history being repeated as it had been over the centuries by the griots. It was like the story coming full circle.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 4 December 1999
As it says on the back, this book truly is a labour of love. The thought and time that has gone in to creating this masterpiece is mindblowing. I could barely put it down over the whole 650 pages - it's intense, gripping, upsetting and uplifting. Roots shows what a good book can be whilst at the same time offering an insight in to one of the atrocities of the World's history, African American slavery. I'm just gutted i've finished it.
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