This book would not have come to fruition without the guidance and inspiration of my father, Gerald S. Henig, emeritus professor of history. He scrutinized every sentence of the manuscript, occasionally questioning my interpretation of the evidence, and oftentimes holding me to task for lack of clarity. From scanning files to conducting genealogical research of Alex Haley’s family, my mother, Lori Henig, was incredibly helpful.
There were a number of research institutions and universities that offered assistance in either retrieving the documents I requested or providing me access to the papers themselves. No staff was more helpful than the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, John C. Hodges Library, Special Collections Division—Jennifer Benedetto Beals, Nick Wyman, Justin Blake Eastwood, Elizabeth Campbell Young, and Bill Eigelsbach as well as student researcher Zach Johnson. The Anne Romaine Papers in the special collections shed enormous insight on Haley’s life.
Also, I would like to acknowledge the following research institutions and persons for their support: Alcorn University (Joanna Williams), Atlanta University Center (Kayin Shabazz), Clark Atlanta University (Kashawndros Jackson), Columbia University (Catherine Carson Ricciardi), Cornell University (Evan Fay Earle, Annie Keville), Duke University (Lynn Eaton), California State University, East Bay (Carolyn Chun, Jared Mariconi), Georgetown University (Scott S. Taylor), Hamilton College (Katherine Collett), Jackson State University (Angela Stewart), Lane College (Lan Wang), Langston University (Jovanni Williams), Library of Congress (Alice Birney, Bonnie Coles), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Kate Hutchens), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (staff at the Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library), San Jose Public Library (staff), Santa Clara County Library (staff), University of California, Santa Cruz (Luisa Haddad), Saratoga Springs Public Library (Teri Blasko), Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Edwina Ashie-Nikoi and staff), Skidmore College (Wendy Anthony), Syracuse University (Mary Beth Hinton, Lauren M. Britton, Sean Quimby, Nicolette A. Dobrowolski, Jessica O’Toole), Tennessee Historical Commission (Claudette Stager), Thought Equity Motion (Linzey Simonson) and Vanderbilt University (Molly Dohrmann).
Interviews are never easy to arrange. Despite setbacks, there were people in Alex Haley’s life that generously volunteered their time while sharing their most intimate memories. Among them, Haley’s best friend, Museum of Appalachia founder and writer/historian/archivist John Rice Irwin.
To other Tennesseans who knew Haley—Edye Ellis, Girdie King and her husband, Kathy Stooksbury-Long, and Nick Wyman—I owe a debt of gratitude for their insight and anecdotes. I am also grateful to Ken Libby, Business Manager of the Children’s Defense Fund, which owns the Haley Farm, for providing access to the facility; William Vincent Murray, Director of Alamance County Museum, who responded to numerous questions; and Donna Banks of Reader’s Digest, who led me to Haley’s former Digest editors, Ed Thompson and Fulton Oursler, Jr., who were generous with their time and insights. Finally, Michael Courlander, son of Harold Courlander, not only granted me access to his father’s personal papers but made himself available for an interview.
Furthermore, I would like to express my appreciation to the always congenial baristas at the Starbucks’ Stores in San Jose (#12673 & #15255), and my gratitude to Norma Garcia for sharing her marketing expertise.
I was most fortunate to be the beneficiary of the professional editorial skills of Barbara Alexandra (Alex) Szerlip. Alex did not hold back any of her criticism, often bluntly telling me what was wrong and then following up with a solution, or, at the very least, a suggestion. Her keen editorial eye truly saved me from countless stylistic blunders. Also, I would like to express my deep gratitude to Amy Quale for her invaluable editorial insight and assistance. My thanks as well to the very talented Rachmad Agus for designing the cover.
I am most grateful to my sisters, Jennifer and Rebecca, and to my nieces, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, fathers-in-law and mothers in-law, and friends for their good cheer and encouragement.
Finally, and most importantly, my wife (and fellow researcher), Jennifer, and my sons, Jacob and Alexander, are the angels in my life.