Speaking Volumes: Alex Haley’s highly acclaimed works helped to change a nation

Born in 1921, Pulitzer prize-winning author Alex Haley was best known for his highly acclaimed book “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” which later became a TV miniseries that was watched by approximately 130 million viewers.

After college, Haley joined the Coast Guard and began to write to alleviate boredom and soon became a full-time writer after his retirement.

His first published work was featured in Playboy and his first major work, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” was based on several interviews with Malcolm X.

Enjoy these books by Haley and others that are available at your libraries in book, audio book, ebook and DVD formats.

“Roots: the saga of an American Family” is the best-selling novel and award-winning TV miniseries and movie by Haley about his African ancestors, six generations of his family as slaves, freemen, farmers, lawyers, an architect, a teacher and an acclaimed author.

Beginning with the capture of Kunta Kinte from his African village by slave traders and shipped to Colonial America in the 1700’s to a funeral in Arkansas, the unforgettable saga continues along Haley’s own family tree to the Civil War where Kinte’s grandson gained emancipation.

This is a great classic American story and a truly multicultural family saga.

Haley’s “Queen, the Story of an American Family” again takes the reader deep into the South in this saga of his father’s family. This is a compelling history from his great-great- grandfather’s Irish birth to Nashville and Andrew Jackson. James Jackson’s son and a slave named Easter had a daughter named Queen, Haley’s grandmother.

After the Civil War, Haley’s grandmother Queen moves to the North. She soon discovers that she can “pass” as white and escape the limits placed on her race.

Haley passed away during the writing of this novel in 1992.

If you are interested in similar works in the library’s collection, you should see out the following books.

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” by Ernest Gaines is the highly acclaimed drama in the guise of the tape-recorded recollections of a 110-year-old black woman who has been a slave and a witness to the black militancy of the 1960’s.

Miss Pittman has endured and seen almost everything and foretold the rest. This is a memorable novel about the South with a mix of wit, wrath, imagination and indignation.

Cane River” by Lalita Tademy, an Oprah’s Book Club pick, is the deeply moving saga of four generations of strong African-American women beginning with her great-great-great-great grandmother, a slave in Louisiana.

Tademy chronicles her ancestors whose lives begin in slavery and who weather the Civil War and emancipation and who grapple with pre-civil rights in the South.

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Cathy Habora is a staff member at the Braden River Branch Library. Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday in the Bradenton Herald.