Tracing his ancestry through six generations - slaves and freedmen, farmers and blacksmiths, lawyers and architects - back to Africa, Alex Haley discovered a sixteen-year-old youth, Kunta Kinte. It was this young man, who had been torn from his homeland and in torment and anguish brought to the slave markets of the New World, who held the key to Haley's deep and distant past.
Alex Haley taught himself to write during a twenty-year stint in the US Coast Guard. He became its first Chief Journalist, a position he held until he retired in 1959 to become a magazine writer and interviewer. His first book was The Autobiography of Malcolm X, after which he spent twelve years researching and writing Roots. Alex Haley died in Seattle, Washington in 1992.