Fake Roots

Story in the New York Post opens with this lede:

ON Friday, NBC will air a special commemorating the 25th anniversary of the landmark miniseries based on Alex Haley’s book “Roots.” Ironically, the original series aired on ABC – but officials at that network took a pass on broadcasting the tribute.

What’s truly amazing, however, is that “Roots” is receiving a reverential tribute at all. For while the miniseries was a remarkable – and important – piece of television, the book on which it was based has now been widely exposed as a historical hoax.

Unfortunately, the general public is largely unaware of how Haley’s monumental family autobiography, stretching back to 18th-century Africa, has been discredited.

Indeed, a 1997 BBC documentary expose of Haley’s work has been banned by U.S. television networks – especially PBS, which would normally welcome such a program.

Coincidentally, the “Roots” anniversary comes amid the growing scandal over disclosures of historian Stephen Ambrose’s multiple incidents of plagiarism. Because as Haley himself was forced to acknowledge, a large section of his book – including the plot, main character and scores of whole passages – was lifted from “The African,” a 1967 novel by white author Hal Courlander.

(Hattip to Vox Popoli.)

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