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Alex Haley

Alex Haley (1921-1992) was an American writer and journalist best known for his book “Roots: The Saga of an American Family.” Haley was born in Ithaca, New York, and raised in Henning, Tennessee. He was the grandson of slaves and his interest in his family’s history and African American history, in general, began at a young age.

Haley served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II and later became a journalist. He wrote for various publications, including Reader’s Digest, and became the first African American to interview a U.S. president when he interviewed President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1959.

Haley’s most famous work, “Roots,” was published in 1976 and tells the story of his family’s history, beginning with Kunta Kinte, an African captured and sold into slavery in the 18th century. The book follows Kinte’s descendants through generations of slavery, the Civil War, and into the 20th century. “Roots” was adapted into a popular television miniseries in 1977, which was watched by an estimated 130 million people.

Haley’s other works include “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” which he co-wrote with Malcolm X, and “Queen,” a novel about a mixed-race woman who becomes a slave in the 19th century.

Haley wed Nannie Branche in 1941; they remained married for 23 years before divorcing in 1964. That same year, he married Juliette Collins; they split in 1972. He later wed Myra Lewis, to whom he remained married for the duration of his life, though the two were separated at the time of his passing. Haley had three children, a son, and two daughters.

Death and Legacy
Haley died of a heart attack on February 10, 1992, in Seattle, Washington, at the age of 70. Despite the shadow cast by his plagiarism controversies, the author is credited with inspiring a nationwide interest in genealogy and contributing to a larger awareness of the horrors of racism and slavery and their place in American history. While some critics have condemned Haley for his fiction masquerading as historical facts, others perceive him as an important storyteller who, despite his wrongdoings, was able to reveal broader truths.

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