Oh, Kunta Kinte. You poor, inspirational soul. You were stolen from your home, had your freedom taken from you, along with your language, your family, your culture, your identity. But not your name, your dignity or your history.
I think the chapters in Africa were the most stressful for me, because they obviously couldn't continue. Kunta wasn't going to be able to grow old in the land of his ancestors. He wasn't going to be able to take over his father's role in the tribe some day. He wasn't going to be able to watch his siblings grow up. Waiting for the inevitable filled those happy, carefree chapters with a quiet dread. That hellish voyage across the sea and Kunta's brutal introduction to his life as a slave in America were heartbreaking. His rage and desire to escape were palpable. And his slow but grudging acceptance of his new life was humbling. We see him marry, have a child and teach that child as much as he can about his life in Africa and what it means to be African.
The bulk of this story is centered around Kunta, but then it follows his daughter Kizzie, her son George and so forth until we come to Alex Haley himself. The years start to zip by in the latter part of the book and it feels a little on the rushed side, but that's my only real issue here. This is otherwise a vivid detailing of this shameful time in our nation's history. Everyone should read this book. Really, it should be required reading in high school.
Avery Brooks's narration was perfection, as I knew it would be. He's Benjamin Frickin' Sisko. I didn't even bother listening to the sample when I saw he was narrating this. He brings these people and their struggles, trials, and triumphs to life. Well done, Mr. Brooks.
And well done, Mr. Haley. Because as it's stated in the foreword by Michael Dyson, even if parts of this were debunked, that doesn't take away its importance in its symbolism of restoring the stolen heritage of African-Americans.