Roots: The Saga of an American Family became a sensation immediately after its publication in 1976. It was adapted into a popular miniseries, and became one of the most-watched television programs in American history. Two sequels, The Next Generation and The Gift, quickly followed.
Roots appealed to readers of every background: for African American readers, the story inspired pride and a greater understanding of the past; and for readers of other ethnicities, it was a powerful look at an American family's immigrant past. Moreover, Haley's work is widely credited with starting the American genealogy craze.
The continuing controversy over Haley's writing and research methods and the facts of his narrative has not dimmed his achievement. Roots is viewed as a mythic saga of African American history, portraying the ways in which enslaved Africans endured suffering and fought for their place in American society. It has earned a place among the popular classics of American literature and remains a profoundly influential and well-loved book.