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Customer Review

22 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 'Faction' at its worst, 6 April 2012
This review is from: Roots (Paperback)
This is some of the most dangerous literature I have come across. Not only has Haley had to settle a 2 million dollar plagiarism court case, due to his lack of original writing style, but the stuff he did write himself, in an historical sense, he made up! Africans enslaved Africans and sold them to European merchants and did so at great profit. This book only solidifies the Afrocentric propaganda that claims Europeans were the sole instigators of African slavery- this is simply not true! I'm not excusing the terrible events that took place at the hands of Europeans, but this bad-white-man victimised-black-man paradigm has gone on long enough. The rich exploit the poor no matter their colour or creed. Do not read this book for anything other than recreational purposes. This is not history. It is one man's attempt to play on the wants and needs of an African diaspora looking for an identity beyond their present one. It cannot be found in Roots. P.S the miniseries is even more inaccurate than the book. It's like watching the jungle book instead of David Attenborough for your fill of natural history.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Apr 2012, 18:56:06 BST
SJS says:
This comment whilst it may be the opinion of the writer, is not a review of the book, the characters in the book or the story contained. So I cannot say it is a good review. I think it is up to the reader whether they want to read the story and make up their mind about the contents of the book and how it portrays slavery, rather than someone using a review of this book to vent their opinions on what they think slavery was all about and their dislike of Mr. Haley's view of the historical events that took place during this time.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Apr 2012, 03:24:17 BST
Phisken Moor says:
Fair enough Susieqt, I acknowledge your comments and criticisms. Obviously everyone is entitled to make up their own minds on any matter. However, all I would want to add is that it is very difficult to make a well informed judgement on anything when one is not given well-researched and evidence-based information to begin with. I have studied the transatlantic slave trade, and their is a difference between interpretation and almost undeniable truth. Perhaps I was too condemnatory and instructional previously, but it is quite alarming and worrying that this book is categorized as 'cultural history' thereby implying that it is historically sound. The problem seems to be that the majority of a-political academics would, and have, strongly disagreed with Haley's 'interpretation' of events, but since they do not have the exposure that Haley has had, and continues to enjoy, they seem to struggle to find the strength of voice to tell the public 'no, this is simply not true'. Haley is not the first to romanticise African history; its been a trend that has continued from the 20th century up until now.

I whole-heartedly believe Alex Haley made one of two errors. Either he did not do his research and simply did a cowboy-job of the historical detail. Or, he did do his research and then deliberately filtered the slightly uglier or non-populist elements of this slave history out of his narrative, allowing the initial phases of enslavement i.e., capture and forced marches to the coastal slave forts by native African slave traders, to be completely misconstrued. That is to say that European slave traders rarely went into the interior of Africa and usually remained on the coast. This makes sense for two reasons: Firstly, why would foreign traders comb land they did not know, and that they were completely unsuited for, when they could make business partners locally and use their knowledge and jurisdiction to achieve their sickening goals with less complication and extra efficiency. Secondly, well established African tribes and kingdoms such as the Asanti and Dahomey powers would not have simply let foreign men walk through their lands unopposed to steal their subjects/slaves. Africans, in many different cultures had been dealing in slaves amongst themselves for longer than we can accurately say (prehistoric), and would have had a monopoly on human trafficking in some areas (mainly West Africa). To imply, like Haley does, that white men had complete liberty over Africa's land, people and to certain extent, destiny, a) does a disservice to the authority and power of African states of that time, and more importantly, b) distorts the image we get in our mind when thinking of that awful trade that, through Haley's interpretation, makes Africans out to be solely victims and not collaborators as well. It was not as simple as a black and white distinction here; slavery was and still is far more diverse and blurry than that.

It goes without saying that there is no such thing as an unbiased interpretation but Haley weaves his (and only his) fabric of facts (which evidently are simply untrue or grossly twisted into unrecognisable shapes) into something that no longer resembles reasonable and insightful interpretation, and instead becomes better understood as a piece of FICTION that should not be used as a reliable source of historical information. I would have little or few bones to pick with the author and his publisher if they stated properly that this is not a true account of the way transatlantic slave history was played out, and people should take it as a STORY and nothing more. It is just scary reading all the reviews and seeing how many people have swallowed his misinformation. I would have done so myself I'm sure if I had not had the opportunity to study the history in closer and deeper detail. Denying that African involvement in the slave trade, or only acknowledging it through a coercive European context is just as preposterous as suggesting that Europeans tapped into African slave systems because it was the Christian thing to do and they were only teaching Africans the value of hard work. Both statements are as absurd as each other and disguise the fact that we are all human and there are individuals within every society that are capable of some terrible actions with only selfish reasons behind them. That is the only point I was trying to make.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Dec 2013, 20:20:20 GMT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2014, 18:39:33 BST
It looks like you haven't read the book, Haley tells in the story how africans helped and sold off fellow africans to the slave traders and even though he told that some went through africa, they were aided by africans which seems highly plausible. If anything this book has just opened my eyes to the kindo f things that happened and has compelled me to look into it further. He even said at the beginning how there were african slave owners but they were binded to better terms with the slaves.

Posted on 26 Feb 2016, 07:24:06 GMT
P Hancock says:
I take it you never actually read the book. Unfortunately, all your review has done is make you look like a man with an "agenda" (probably a racist one).
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