The Warmth of Other Suns

The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

eBook - 2010
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In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.


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    From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.

    With stunning historical detail, Wilkerson tells this story through the lives of three unique individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago, where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois Senate seat; sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for Harlem, where he endangered his job fighting for civil rights, saw his family fall, and finally found peace in God; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue a medical career, the personal physician to Ray Charles as part of a glitteringly successful medical career, which allowed him to purchase a grand home where he often threw exuberant parties.
    Wilkerson brilliantly captures their first treacherous and exhausting cross-country trips by car and train and their new lives in colonies that grew into ghettos, as well as how they changed these cities with southern food, faith, and culture and improved them with discipline, drive, and hard work. Both a riveting microcosm and a major assessment, The Warmth of Other Suns is a bold, remarkable, and riveting work, a superb account of an "unrecognized immigration" within our own land. Through the breadth of its narrative, the beauty of the writing, the depth of its research, and the fullness of the people and lives portrayed herein, this book is destined to become a classic.
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group


    From the critics

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    pacl_teens Apr 12, 2021

    "When the Black Lives Matter movement began last year, my parents encouraged me to learn more about African American history. "The Warmth of Other Suns" thus made it onto my reading list, as one of the best books on the subject. It details The Great Migration, a time period during which over six million African Americans moved to the North and West of the United States, to escape the dangerously rigid caste system and Jim Crow Laws of the South.

    This book is the result of fifteen years of research and interviews from more than a thousand people, conducted by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson (whose own parents partook in the migration so that they and the family they grew could have a better life). I greatly admire this book for letting me learn so much while still being invested in the content of the text beyond dry facts. Wilkerson skillfully tells history by following the lives of three individuals who took the journey, and manages to display all of what they left behind, and what they found in their search for more. I was particularly intrigued by the story of Doctor Robert Foster, a success-driven black surgeon who moved to California after the South prevented his race from exercising the level of medical expertise he could be satisfied with.

    This book served my purpose to understand more, while still supplying me with an enjoyable read. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in personal takes by those most affected by racism in the United States at the time, as well as those looking for a larger picture of how the seeds of racism grew to be so deeply rooted, from history to present date." - Chloe, Grade 10

    Oct 26, 2020

    Read for bookgroup

    Aug 30, 2020

    This is a haunting history of 6 million African-Americans fleeing the Jim Crow era South to Northern cities. The author has interviewed thousands of people and has done extensive research on this less known Mass Migration within our own borders. The author has a great gift of writing the details for us the readers. Some details of lynching are unnerving and left me with no sympathies for the people of Southern States. Even to this day they fly the confederate flags! The book is very long, 538 pages plus Notes, Index etc add up to 622 pages.
    Last few chapters of 1990 decade were less interesting compared to earlier decades.

    Only other comment I have is that even though this is a history book, it has not historical photos of any major characters or events.

    Aug 26, 2020

    Modern Mrs Darcy

    Aug 22, 2020

    622 pages

    CRRL_JoyO Aug 04, 2020

    A fascinating look at the migration of African Americans from the south to other parts of the country. The author uses the stories of three people who migrated to Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City to draw the reader in and portray the real facts behind the Great Migration in the 20th century.

    Jul 27, 2020

    Rec from Elise of ATX SciWriters

    Jul 21, 2020

    This is the first book I have read about the "Great Migration". The amount of effort that went in to the writing of this book is unimaginable. Wilkerson took facts of a century and wove them into a story about 3 people (Ida Mae, Robert Pershing, George Starling) who migrated at different times, circumstances and to different cities. Another book to be required reading in HS. Essential info that many people will not be familiar with, have been exposed or perhaps forgotten. It seems info can be lost in 1 generation! I hope discrimination/greed /hoarding has not become so ingrained into our society that we can't learn to share resources in the future. Keep hope alive! A wonderful informative book!

    Jun 21, 2020

    There are several outstanding books about the lives of black Americans in the first part of the 20th century, but few have the scope and lyrical passion of Isabel Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.” A former New York Times journalist, Wilkerson masterfully recounts the exodus of millions from the Deep South in search of a better life, an epochal shift that established today’s complex interplay of race, class and justice. - NYT

    Jun 20, 2020

    An incredible and fascinating narrative non-fiction about the extensive migration of the American black population from the Jim Crow south into California and the northern states. This book focuses on the time period from WWI to the Civil rights movement in the 60's. The book was a bit longer than it needed to be in my opinion but was a very interesting read.

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