Wednesday, August 11, 2010

is anybody out there?

Either you deal with what is the reality, or you can be sure that the reality is going to deal with you.
Alex Haley (b. 11 august 1921-1992) writer

today is the anniversary of the birth of alex haley, the author of the 1976 historical novel roots: the saga of an american family. the book inspired millions of budding genealogists, was translated into 37 languages, and became a worldwide best-seller. in 1977, the book won a special award from the pulitzer board and also that year it was adapted into the world's first mega-blockbuster television miniseries.

this morning as I was reading about haley, I was reminded that his first book, the autobiography of malcolm x (1965), was another groundbreaking book. haley wrote this book as a result of more than fifty in-depth interviews he conducted with malcolm between 1963 and when malcolm was assassinated in 1965. time magazine, which seems to love making lists, identified the book as one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century. the book has been a perennial bestseller since it was first published. earlier this year, in celebration of what would have been the activist's 85th birthday, three (or four - there seems to be some controversy as to the number) previously unpublished chapters were revealed. I would like to find a new edition of the book which includes the missing chapters, according to gregory reed, who 'owns' the manuscript states:
"they were dropped from Alex Haley’s “Autobiography of Malcolm X,” published in 1965, because they showed a broader view of humanity and freedom that was out of sync with the separatist tone of the rest of the work."
another interesting bit of trivia I learned this morning is that there is a coast guard cutter named after haley - prior to his civilian writing career, haley had a twenty-three year career in the u.s. coast, and according to the portal: "was the first Chief Journalist in the Coast Guard, the rating having been expressly created for him in recognition of his literary ability."


wall wednesday continues as does pink floyd's the wall - in honor of haley is anybody out there? is today's tune.



photo: harlem mural, nyc, october 2009

5 comments:

Roy said...

I both read and watched Roots, and I own a copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which I go back and read from time to time. Classics, with much to say about the state of the American body politic.

California Girl said...

a fitting nod to Mr. Haley. I never read either book but I remember the night "Roots" debuted. I was at a big party and we all stopped drinking and carrying on to turn on the tv and watch the show. One of those landmark, never-to-be-forgotten moments.

willow said...

I need to add the book to my must read list!

Gary said...

I love Pink Floyd's The Wall.

You know, sometimes I read blog posts and am struck with how knowledgeable people are and the amount of research that goes into them. I can see how you are e.b.d. (a term you taught me and one I will soon add to my name). Roots is so fascinating and it really did spur a huge interest in folks finding out about their ancestors. Go Alex!

Steve Reed said...

I remember watching "Roots" with my family. It was indeed a huge event in the '70s. Everybody was talking about it!

(I love "The Wall" too, Gary! One of my favorite albums!)