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Authors: Alex Haley

Queen (129 page)

BOOK: Queen
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    tive years of my life listening to those stories and debating them with

    him. Some scenes we wrote together, around the kitchen table at his farm,

    on a banana boat to Ecuador, and during journeys of exploration to the


    I am aware that some historians dispute some of Alex's conclusions. Given

    certain constraints of time, I have done my utmost, and have employed

    staff, to verify his research. In the mass of reference works we have

    consulted, some few stand out: the several volumes of A People's History

    by Page Smith; Reconstruction by Eric Foner; Michael Paul Rogin's Fathers

    and Children, and specifically for Andrew Jackson, The Border Captain by

    Marquis James. The diaries of Mary Chestnut were invaluable for

    confin-nations of the society's attitude to relationships such as that

    of Jass and Easter, as were several reference works about Thomas

    Jefferson and his thirty-nineyear relationship with his slave mistress,

    Sally Hernings.

    I am keenly aware that this is not the book Alex would have written. Like

    Roots, this was to have been a personal history of his family, and he

    told it to me as such. But it is not my history, my family, or my people,

    black or white. When Alex died, I had to move into new and unfamiliar

    territories. Not a historian, I had to piece this history together, and

    it is a period of high definition for many Americans. I am sure some will

    be offended by my assumptions, and to those offended I can only shrug my

    shoulders and say sorry.

Alex wrote the following statement about his intentions:

    "This book will convey visceral America. For our land of immigrants is

    a testimonial to the merging of the cultures of the world, and of their




    I am not American, but for me, the overriding achievement of Roots was

    as a spectacular metaphor for the travails of every black family in this

    country and their journey through history. In that sense Queen is also

    a metaphor, a representative woman for the thousands upon thousands of

    children of the plantation who were dispossessed of their families and

    their heritage. I can only be grateful for this extraordinary opportunity

    to pass on what Alex left behind, and grieve with all my heart the

    circumstance that brought it about.

BOOK: Queen
11.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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