Talk:Roots: The Saga of an American Family

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Untitled[edit]

I have started a summary of the book. What do you guys think of it?


there is such a thing as pronouns, in one paragraph there must be at least 20 "Kizzy"s

While the description of attempts is pretty good, it violates neutrality. For example, the author recommending that, if any portion of the book is read, it be the "Chicken George" section is a fine example.


Does neutrality apply to what is functionaly a book report? I'm inclined to make a few minor grammatical and editorial changes to the article, but I don't feel comfortable changing the tone. -L


It is more than functionally a book report, it *is* a book report...lol. I thought I would help the common good by uploading it to wikipedia.

Dear anonymous commentator, That previous comment about neutrality referred to the first version of this article, which was 10Kb too long and marked for clean-up. I thought I did a pretty good job of condensing the material; perhaps you can show me how to do it better? Yoninah 21:31, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

Also, the article describes Roots as a "novel" which means it is fiction. Apparently, much of it is fiction, but unless you are going to get into that (beyond the vague suggestion of plagiarism), it should be described as a family history--non-fiction. Again, apparently he made a lot of it up...

Patrick Grey Anderson 00:14, 12 August 2005 (UTC)

I once worked with a genealogist who knew Alex Haley -- he worked from her home while they were researching the sequel, Queen. She said that Alex was surprised that librarians were shelving his book in the genealogy section of their libraries, rather than the fiction section. Apparently, he did just enough genealogy to get a framework of dates, and collected family stories for a general plot, but he considered his novel and all its details to be a work of fiction. GUllman 03:55, 30 August 2005 (UTC)
One thing that stands out as an obvious fiction is the story of Kunta Kinte being kidnapped by white men near his village. Most African slaves were captured and sold at the behest of their own rulers, or by neighboring tribes in warfare. White men were highly conspicuous in Africa, and they didn't just go traipsing through the Songhai empire, grabbing people at will. This popular misconception ignores the degree of organization of the Muslim states in Africa in the 1700s.
Any of us who were around in the 70s when this mini-series aired can attest to the fact that Haley took GREAT PAINS to pass off "Roots" as the true story of his ancestors. My family (and every family I knew...indeed, every PERSON I knew) watched every minute of each episode. It's all people talked about for months. Hundreds and hundreds of news reports, interviews, talk show segments, etc. were done to either promote or analyze various aspects of the many hours of air time. At NO POINT did anyone, including Haley, provide a caveat that this was "a work of fiction." It's only after Haley's poor scholarship, and possible fraudulent activities were outted that he began trying to re-write the history of the story. Although the story did much to correct the lies Hollywood has perpetuated since "Birth of a Nation" and "Gone With the Wind," Haley is guilty of a deception tantamount to that of James Frey, author of "A Million Little Pieces." But I doubt Oprah Winfrey will be raking Alex Haley's memory over the coals anytime soon, and I think we all know why.
Probably we don't. Certainly I don't. You'll have to come out and say it. I hope it's not too generic -- I want every salacious detail!! 178.39.255.25 (talk) 09:24, 5 January 2016 (UTC)

There's a problem with the first paragraph of the Synopsis section:

The action begins with the birth of Kunta Kinte in 1750 to a Mandinka tribesman in the tiny, Sub-Saharan village of Juffure. The aver the next four years and is punished, each time more severely.

The bolded section doesn't make any kind of sense. Was something deleted from the paragraph?

Willbyr 21:20, 15 November 2005 (UTC)


I am the person who started the article from a book report two years ago. I just wanted to thank everybody who contributed to this to condense/copy-edit it into a Wiki-usable format. Great job guys! Is there anything I could be doing right now to make this page better so that it is higher on the WikiNovel rating?

By the way, this book should be classified as a novel. It is "based on real life," but Alex Haley obviously took extensive liberties storytelling. Although I don't doubt that the later portions are realistic, the Kunta Kinte section especially is fictional in nature. Some geneological research cannot validate a 100+ page story of the life of a slave in Africa in the 1700's.

Khelvaster 01:51, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Hey! I'm doing this for a book report!!!!


The plot summary says "Chicken George finds his family, but he must escape to Canada to preserve his freedom." I don't think this is right. First, Chicken George has sixty days to leave the southern state (N. Carolina?) when he becomes a free man, so it isn't exactly an escape. Second, I don't recall him having to go to Canada, just to one of the northern states of the US.

Pyobon 05:24, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

Character Surname Changes[edit]

Any idea why they changed the surnames of the white characters in the TV Mini-series? Waller became Reynolds, Lea became Moore...etc. Also should this fact be included in the article? 84.153.81.59 19:38, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

There is already a separate article for the miniseries, so I'd imagine that would be the best place to include it. Mwelch 23:27, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
I semi-agree about the name change part going under the mini-series article. But it doesn't look like anyone added anything there yet. So....
I'd like to speculate on the name changes: Author Haley was writing about his own family and could probably give his own permission for the fam names to be used. However, there are "Lea's" in Caswell Co, NC to this day (and a small village called Leasburg, once the Co seat). I would guess there are "Wallers" in Va as well. So my speculation is the producers could not get permission to represent these familys/ancestors in the series, and/or wanted to avoid a possible conflict or slander charge from the beginning. After all, we've no proof Tom Lea was an alcoholic; or that the Wallers sold Kizzy away for being literate and forging a Pass, or any of the other things Haley took license with that portray these people in a bad light. Obviously slavery was abhorrent, but casting aspersions ("guilt by association") on the modern families without proof is unaccedptable....
I'm no lawyer, but thats my speculation. Engr105th 00:39, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Whether or not they needed the permission of the descendants is sometimes a close question. It is usually better, and cheaper, to take the path of least resistance and use different names, and maintain that the story is fictional anyway. John Paul Parks (talk) 01:42, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:AlexHaley Roots pb.jpg[edit]

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Image:AlexHaley Roots pb.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in Wikipedia articles constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

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Fair use rationale for Image:AlexHaley Roots modclassic.jpg[edit]

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Image:AlexHaley Roots modclassic.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in Wikipedia articles constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale.

If there is other other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images uploaded after 4 May, 2006, and lacking such an explanation will be deleted one week after they have been uploaded, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.BetacommandBot 19:01, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

This article says:

"On the journey, he finds that the Mandinka warrior, Kintango, who trained him to manhood has also been captured. Kintango provides Kunta with much verbal support. Kintango later dies in the revolt."

This was only in part of the TV miniseries and not part of the book. If this article is specifically about the book then it should be removed. Feekus 18:38, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

I concur. I've read the book but never seen the TV version - I was wondering why the Wiki article stated that...Engr105th 21:32, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

Interesting Items in Book[edit]

In the book, when Kunta is in Africa, he and his relatives walk everywhere they go. This confirms that the supposedly advanced society that "toubob" interrupted had not yet invented the wheel. The book, which we now discover was plagiarized, is a plastic fantasy, in which black people are portrayed as uniformly virtuous and white people (with one insignificant exception) are portrayed as uniformly wicked. Such nonsense merely stirs up interracial friction and is detrimental to society. If a white person wrote a book that glorified the white race in the same manner as Haley exalts the black race, it properly would be condemned as racist. If there is to be an objective NPOV analysis of the book on Wikipedia, these factors should be mentioned. John Paul Parks (talk) 15:33, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

Alas, Wikipedia is not the place for unsourced literary criticism or for sweeping generalizations about whether particular societies are "advanced." Mgllama (talk) 01:31, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
Concur... Engr105th (talk) 03:23, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

"Such nonsense merely stirs up interracial friction and is detrimental to society." I believe a similar argument was used to defend Jim Crow laws against the civil rights movement. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.106.78.151 (talk) 14:27, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

VULGARITY IN INTRO[edit]

The intro claims it "spent ballsack weeks on the new york...." please correct!!! Ty!! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.83.25.118 (talk) 00:58, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

Missing transition sentence[edit]

Following the success of the novel and the miniseries, Haley was accused by two authors of plagiarism of their novels. Harold Courlander successfully asserted that Roots was plagiarized from his novel The African, published in 1967. The resulting trial ended with an out-of-court settlement and Haley's admission that some passages within Roots had been copied from Courlander's work; he said it was unintentional.

Edward Kosner, reviewing the volume Alex Haley by Robert J. Norrell, said that Haley "could have avoided all the grief if he and his publishers had simply labeled the book [Roots] what it was—a historical novel valid in its essential narrative but informed by the imagination".

This transition to the second paragraph doesn't make sense. The Edwin Kosner remark concerns the factuality of the narrative (whether the people and events really were as depicted), not whether it was plagiarized. A sentence needs to be added. 178.39.255.25 (talk) 09:15, 5 January 2016 (UTC)

Slavery in the UK - Chicken George[edit]

When Chicken George apparently goes to the UK, slavery had been abolished there already, so that could not have happened as described in the recent series (and book?). If that is in the book too, shouldn't there be something about that in the historical inaccuracy section? Can any verify if it is in the book too? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Heywoodg (talkcontribs) 09:01, 16 December 2018 (UTC)