Alex Haley’s “Roots”: Fact Or Fiction?

0 Posted by - February 21, 2018 - LATEST POSTS

While I honor the talent and perseverance of Alex Haley, much of his genealogical research has been sorely put to the test of time. There is no doubt that the man accomplished what few could have done in his day, but we should not overlook his shortcomings.

Before we factualize fiction, let us stop and think about Alex Haley’s work. True, ‘Roots’ was an epic of its time, but it was, according to much that has been discovered since, a work of almost pure fiction.

The University of Tennessee Special Collections Library, Knoxville, TN, is the repository for Alex Haley’s papers. Philip Nobile examined these papers and his results were turned into a BBC documentary titled “The Roots of Alex Haley” [the documentary was never broadcast in the United States]. Even Gary and Elizabeth Shown Mills have questions about his research.

The case of plagiarism against Alex Haley was brought by the white author Hal Courlander whose novel “The African” [1967] was heavily plagiarized by Alex Haley, who himself acknowledged that large sections of his novel, including the plot and the main charcter were lifted from “The African”. Even the judge presiding over the plagiarism trial is supposed to have made the statement, before allowing an out-of-court settlement, “I did not want to destroy him”.

Maybe Toby, Kizzy and Chicken George were Alex Haley’s ancestors. Then again, maybe not. It seems like ‘Toby’ left the scene years before Kizzy was born, and that he was in America as early as 1762 [not 1767 when the Lord Ligonier arrived]. The timeline alone has problems, don’t you think?

Source: Re: “Chicken George” Lea 1806-1890


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