In 1977, following the airing of the mega hit television mini-series Roots, its author, Alex Haley, became America’s newest “folk hero."
His book was on the Times' Best Seller's list for months, and won the Pulitzer Prize. His story had captivated a nation and then the world. From Idaho to Israel, it seemed everyone was caught-up in “Rootsmania.”
Alex Haley, the ghostwriter behind The Autobiography of Malcolm X, was on his way to becoming the most successful African American author in the history of publishing until it all fell apart.
Based on interviews of Haley's contemporaries, personal correspondence, legal documents, newspaper accounts, Adam Henig investigates the unraveling of one of America’s most successful yet enigmatic authors.
"Henig recounts the highs and lows of Haley’s life with sympathy, addressing the critiques honestly." - Publishers Weekly's Booklife
"Adam Henig has created a gem... A must read for anyone interested in the interplay of politics, race and mixed blessings of fame and fortune that produced the contradictory legacy of a onetime icon." - Terry P. Wilson, Professor Emeritus of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
Henig tracks the life of Alex Haley after the publication of his path breaking book, Roots, offering a sad reminder of the potential downsides to achieving one's dreams. He begins by offering some social context on the TV premiere of the mini-series based on Haley's book, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, which detailed his family's history from Gambia, through slavery, to the present. The amazing response to the story made Haley an overnight sensation. Everywhere he went, he was mobbed. "In Philadelphia, a dozen guards were needed to protect the author." The saga opened the eyes of millions around the world to the nature of the African-American experience and spawned a craze for genealogy. But Haley's stardom was marred by an ill-conceived lawsuit against his publisher, Doubleday, as well as scholarly questions about his research methods and accusations of plagiarism. Adding to these problems, Henig discusses Haley's womanizing, which cost him three marriages, and his inability to handle money responsibly. Henig recounts the highs and lows of Haley's life with sympathy, addressing the critiques honestly. (BookLife)