One of the most important books and television series ever to
appear, Roots, galvanized the nation, and created an
extraordinary political, racial, social and cultural dialogue that
hadn't been seen since the publication of Uncle Tom's
Cabin. The book sold over one million copies in the first
year, and the miniseries was watched by an astonishing 130 million
people. It also won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book
Award. Roots opened up the minds of Americans of
all colors and faiths to one of the darkest and most painful parts
of America's past.
Over the years, both Roots and Alex Haley have
attracted controversy, which comes with the territory for
trailblazing, iconic books, particularly on the topic of race. Some
of the criticism results from whether Roots is
fact or fiction and whether Alex Haley confused these two issues, a
subject he addresses directly in the book. There is also the fact
that Haley was sued for plagiarism when it was discovered that
several dozen paragraphs in Roots were taken
directly from a novel, The African, by Harold Courlander, who
ultimately received a substantial financial settlement at the end
of the case.
But none of the controversy affects the basic
issue. Roots fostered a remarkable dialogue
about not just the past, but the then present day 1970s and how
America had fared since the days portrayed in Roots.
Vanguard Press feels that it is important to
publish Roots: The 30th Anniversary Edition to
remind the generation that originally read it that there are issues
that still need to be discussed and debated, and to introduce to a
new and younger generation, a book that will help them understand,
perhaps for the first time, the reality of what took place during
the time of Roots.