Author of 'Roots' the story about a young slave named Kunte Kinte, after having searched for his ancestry in Africa.
He enlisted in the Coast Guard for 21 years, first as a mess attendant and then as a Petty Officer Third Class in the rate of Steward.
With the help of Malcolm X - he wrote the Autobiography of Malcolm X.
He was born in Ithaca, NY and had three younger siblings.
He once interviewed jazz musician Miles Davis for Playboy Magazine.