Alex Palmer Haley.

Essay by indyeagle6Junior High, 9th gradeA+, June 2003

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Alex Palmer Haley

Alex Haley was born in 1925 in Ithaca, New York where his father taught agriculture. When he was quite young the family moved to Henning, Tennessee, where Alex grew up hearing stories of his ancestors from his grandmother.

Surprisingly, Alex did not do well in school or in college and in WWII Alex joined the Coast Guard and became a messboy. He submitted stories, for publication to magazines only to receive countless rejection slips. Through all his writings, and rejections he learned the rules of writing. In 1959, after twenty years of service he left the Coast Guard to become a full time writer.

Alex produced his first major work, The Autobiography of Malcolm X in 1965. This book revealed Malcolm X's experiences with racism, violence, and imprisonment and it had a very large effect on the black power movement. Malcolm X believed that he would not live to see the book published and he was right as he was fatally shot shortly before it was published.

His most successful novel, Roots was published in 1976. The story begins in 1750 in a small village called Juffure in West Africa and ends in the same village in Gambia seven generations later after his ancestors were taken to the United States as slaves.

In 1977 Roots won a special Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. More than one million copies were sold in a year and Roots became an overnight success as a series of television specials. This book showed how the slaves never let go of their heritage from Africa as songs and folk beliefs were handed down generation to generation along with their unique dialect and native humor. The book also showed that mistreated slaves never gave up the hope of being free. The...