Most African Americans, in tracing their family's past, encounter a series of daunting obstacles. Slavery was a brutally efficient nullifier of identity, willfully denying black men and women even their names. Here, scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., backed by an elite team of geneticists and researchers, takes 19 extraordinary African Americans on a once unimaginable journey, tracing family sagas through U.S. history and back to Africa. Those whose recovered pasts collectively form an African American people's history of the United States include celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, Don Cheadle, Chris Tucker, Morgan Freeman, Tina Turner, and Quincy Jones; writers such as Maya Angelou and Bliss Broyard; leading thinkers such as Harvard divinity professor Peter Gomes, the Reverend T. D. Jakes, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, sociologist Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot; and famous achievers such as Mae Jemison, Tom Joyner, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Linda Johnson Rice. More than a work of history, In Search of Our Roots is a book of revelatory importance that, for the first time, brings to light the lives of ordinary men and women who, by courageous example, blazed a path for their famous descendants.
©2008 Henry Louis Gates; (P)2008 Books on Tape