Letter To “Socialist Worker” Re “Roots”

                                                93c Venner Road,
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                              E-Mail A_Baron@ABaron.Demon.Co.UK

October 21, 2000


Your review of Alex Haley's Roots (October 14 issue) 
describes it as one of those books you can't put down. If your 
reviewer had any acumen he wouldn't have picked up this piece of 
literary trash in the first place. Far from being a “fictiona-
lised account” of the life of one of Haley's ancestors the book 
is a total fraud from beginning to end. Haley was sued success-
fully for plagiarism by a white author, Harold Courlander, having 
copied chunks of Courlander's novel The African (written 
as honest fiction) verbatim.

Haley also ripped off a black author, Margaret Walker, who wrote 
a book called Jubilee (based on the life of her great-
grandmother, who was a slave). If she had received the same 
support from her publisher as Courlander from his, she could have 
sued Haley too. To cap it all, Haley faked his family history in 
collaboration with the Gambian government as exposed by the 
journalist Philip Nobile.

In any case, the thesis of Haley's book is fatally flawed. Slav-
ery was never a black and white issue, even in the United States. 
There were many black slave owners, indeed in 1654 the Virginia 
courts upheld the right of blacks to own slaves, a decision that 
was upheld by the Supreme Court as late as 1833.

Yours sincerely,

A Baron

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