, Matthew F. Delmont not only narrates the personal odyssey Alex Haley took in discovering—and imagining—his ancestral epic for a mass audience in the 1970s but also reveals in fascinating detail the powerful mix of emotional and economic forces that led to the creation of one of the twentieth century’s most indelible—and debated—renderings of slavery. Popular culture’s roots run through
, and, in giving us his history of this touchstone, Delmont has produced a scholarly touchstone himself."—Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University, and host of the PBS series
was the connective tissue between America’s racial past and its hopes for a post-racial future.
also gave rise to one of the seminal cultural moments of twentieth-century America, which Matthew Delmont deftly excavates and illuminates in
"For millions of Americans, Roots
established a new way of thinking about race and ethnicity in and long after the 1970s. Making 'Roots'
is a prodigiously researched and immensely compelling account of book and miniseries, of author and culture industry—the roots and branches of a genre-defying, commercially blockbusting brand of history writing."—Eric Lott, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
"In Making 'Roots
,' Matthew Delmont gives us a terrific and highly readable account of the making of Alex Haley’s book–cum–television miniseries, which had a major impact on television and on the ways Americans imagined slavery and its legacies. This is a hugely welcome study, both for its detailed look at the history of Roots
and for its many smart insights about race, representation, and visual media."—Gayle Wald, author of It's Been Beautiful: "Soul!" and Black Power Television
"Few people read Alex Haley's Roots nowadays, and fewer still watch the twelve-hour television miniseries. But in its time, Roots touched the lives of millions of Americans, black and white, and transformed the national conversation on race. In Making 'Roots,' Matthew Delmont offers the definitive history of the Roots phenomenon, casting fresh light not only on the text and television series but also on a germinal moment in American cultural history."—James T. Campbell, author of Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787–2005