Book Review: Alex Haley’s Roots An Author’s Odyssey

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Alex Haley’s Roots: An Author’s Odyssey
by Adam Henig. Self published. 2014. 110 pages.

This is a brief biography of Alex Haley.

Sixty pages are devoted to Mr. Haley’s success as a writer for Reader’s Digest, Playboy magazine, co-author of the Autobiography of Malcolm X, and very significantly, Roots, the book and the miniseries, whose impact was seminal on the renaissance of interest in family history. And not to pass unnoticed, Roots‘ unflinching saga of slavery brought home the incalculable tragedy of human bondage.

Mr. Henig focusses on events after the triumph of Roots. Haley’s difficulties with the press, the accusations of plagiarism, and the challenges of flaws in his genealogy, were all factors that contributed to Haley’s troublesome last years of life. Mr. Henig references the events through newspaper accounts, interviews with those who knew Haley, and Haley’s papers.

The subtitle is An Author’s Odyssey. Nearly thirty pages recount Henig’s personal journey of research and motivation. As a self-published author, Henig offers his advice and experience with self-publishing, which appears to be limited to Amazon’s CreateSpace.

Though brief in length, Alex Haley’s Roots recalls the publication that sparked the interest of millions in genealogy, particularly notable because it did so through the eyes of an African American.

Alex Haley’s Roots: An Author’s Odyssey is available from Amazon at


What is this ever-present accusation of plagiarism that plagues good authors these days?! It seems to spring out of a misplaced nit-picking of what one person or another decides is his due that he/she has missed. I’m speaking before learning the details but I have a hard time believing that Alex Haley was guilty of such things. I’ll have to read the book to find out because I didn’t know anything about this as connected to Haley when he was alive, nor even since while learning about his life and finally reading “Roots.” My ancestors, Wallers, were likely cousins at the very least of Kunte Kinte’s Waller owners because they were all in the same state and close proximity at the time. At any rate, this review peaks my interest and I’ll definitely read the book.

Liked by 2 people

    Hi Carol, I understand your concerns. My initial objective was not to crucify Haley. I found Haley’s life to be fascinating and was surprised to find out that no one had ever written about him before. But as I delve into the research, it was clear that Haley not only plagiarizes a substantial amount (an expert witness testified that “Roots would not be Roots” w/out the book Haley had copied from), but he made up facts about his ancestry and cited historically inaccurate details. Roots is a fantastic read, but, unfortunately, much of it wasn’t true. I hope you enjoy my book and I look forward to hearing about it. @adamhenig, or, even better, a review on Amazon 🙂


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