The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

by Isabel Wilkerson
3.9 384


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The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

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.

The New York Times  • USA Today • O: The Oprah Magazine • Amazon • Publishers Weekly •  Salon • Newsday  • The Daily Beast

The New Yorker •  The Washington Post • The Economist • Boston Globe • San Francisco Chronicle •  Chicago  
Tribune • Entertainment Weekly • Philadelphia Inquirer • The Guardian • The Seattle Times • St. Louis Post-Dispatch  • The Christian Science Monitor 

 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679763888
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/04/2011
Pages: 640
Sales rank: 9,912
Product dimensions: 9.18(w) x 6.18(h) x 1.68(d)

About the Author

Isabel Wilkerson won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for her reporting as Chicago bureau chief of The New York Times. The award made her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African American to win for individual reporting. She won the George Polk Award for her coverage of the Midwest and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for her research into the Great Migration. She has lectured on narrative writing at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University and has served as Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University and as the James M. Cox Jr. Professor of Journalism at Emory University. She is currently Professor of Journalism and Director of Narrative Nonfiction at Boston University. During the Great Migration, her parents journeyed from Georgia and southern Virginia to Washington, D.C., where she was born and reared. This is her first book.

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The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 384 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You won't read anything like this in any account of U.S. History. Only gain a deeper appreciation of those many emigrants. After reading this book, I am so grateful to my granparents for having the courage to leave the South and try to have a better life. It is almost unbelievable the indignities these people went through. But it is also encouraging to read about their success as well. This is honest history at it's best. An amazing written work. All I can say is read it. You will think, now I get it.
pjpick More than 1 year ago
I would love to write a review on this one but frankly, nothing I could say would do it justice. What a wonderful piece of work! I saw Isabel Wilkerson interviewed on Q&A on CSPAN. I enjoy African American History and thought I might give it a try. I broke my rule of buying brand new hardbacks and am I glad I did! I was drawn in immediately and Wilkerson really gets you connected with the people's stories. If you enjoy history from the perspective of those who've experienced it, this is the book for you. I also think it would be a great choice for those who are in more intellectual type book clubs
mc76NYC More than 1 year ago
This is a well-researched, well-written and important contribution to U.S. History. It is a microcosm of the life of many who have left familiar settings - inside and outside of the United States - to make a better life for their family. A great book.
ReadAllAboutIt More than 1 year ago
I am 20 pages into "TWOOS" and I must say I am so proud of the determination of African Americans who wanted to experience a better life outside the rule of slavery and overt racism. This is a story that must be told so the younger generation (especially AA youth)can become knowledgeable of a piece of history that is rarely told. "TWOOS" reminds me of when I used to sit with my great grandmother and listening to her stories and be in awe of the awesome wisdom and determination of her generation. I agree...everyone needs to know this story and read this book.
MsErlybird More than 1 year ago
...and I Am So Glad that Isabel Wilkerson Wrote this Book! The Great Migration" needs to be told. So many people lived it - and continue to live it - and it has largely been ignored by academia, sociologists, and to an extent, historians. I experienced many "Aha!" moments in recalling the events of the migration of my own family. I cried through a couple of the recollections in the book because they lent a different perspective, bringing a great appreciation of the reasons for the migration. At times I was so wrapped up in the book, I think I was holding my breath! I am grateful that Ms. Wilkerson wrote this book. I am grateful that she sculpted this human landscape. I am grateful for the thousands of souls who left the comfort (often discomfort) and familiarity of their homes and families in search for something better, something different. Now, I am grateful and respectful for their paving the roads. As a result, the rest of us trod a little easier. We need to know this story.
ZeeQuest More than 1 year ago
For someone who has limited historical knowledge, this book was excellent in bringing awareness to the the monumental African American events of the last 2 centuries. It does so in a chronological fashion, from slavery to Emancipation to Jim Crow to the Civil Rights Act and much more. Important facts and events in African American and American history are provided in an extremely engaging account through the stories of 3 people. Being an African immigrant, I have a new found respect for the journey of African Americans in the United States of America.
MsHonee More than 1 year ago
Intelligent and noteworthy. It was both a heartwarming and heartbreaking history lesson about the migration of African Americans from the South to escape Jim Crow laws. I couldn't put it down...I fell asleep trying to see how the three people turned out. I really liked how she worked President Obama into the story as a point in history..enjoy ya"ll
Vintagemusic More than 1 year ago
This book exceeded my expectations, and captured my attention from the moment I commenced reading it. Great writing! Perceptive focus on an aspect of American History heretofore, unbeknownst to myself, and perhaps to most history buffs. Truth-telling at its best! Flawless presentation of painful realities that never made it into any American History books I've ever read. I love the book! +++++ Plus +++++ rating! It doesn't get any better than this! VM
Bewilduh More than 1 year ago
This book is incredible. It details the struggles and stife of living in the South as a black person. The stories and events were so exact that often times it was scary. I live in the South, born and raised, so I could really relate to each person in the book. I am to young to have been born in slavery, but growing up in a small town in the south in the early seventies there were people living that still had that Jim Crow mentality. It was something that you got used to. I remember that I didn't even want to move from my hometown, I was so upset. However, when I did move, I never wanted to go back. I have never moved to far away, but the difference in just a few miles made all the difference in my life. I could really see how oppressive and repressed we had been. I have relatives and older people that have told me stories very very similar to what George, Inez, Ida Mae, and Pershing went through. The book also helped me to understand and be more empathetic with older people like my grandmother and understand why our black culture is like it is. This book is wonderful and insightful, I am recommending it to my friends and family!!!!!!It's a book that I definitely be adding to my library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Isabel Wilkerson put light on the migration of African American from the South to North. I have always enjoyed learning more about the history of African Americans. After reading this book, I have start talking more to older individuals to hear their personal input on their history. Seniors love to talk and educate anyone who will listen and learn from their experiences in life. They have alot of interesting stories to tell why they made the trip from the South to the North. Infact, many of their stories are similar to the three people Ms. Wilkerson used in this book. I highly recommed anyone to read this book!!!!
MsRayne More than 1 year ago
I normally find history books to be "dry" but not The Warmth of Other Suns. I found it to be engaging and easy to read. I think the fact that Wilkerson, focused large portions of the book on the personal experiences of Foster, Sterling and Gladney helped a lot. In between their stories she will add in facts about the time periods and history of the south and the migration. I experienced every emotion possible while reading this one: happiness, anger, excitement, pride, disappointment, sadness. In fact, at one point at the end I had to put the book down because I did not want to read about Ida Mae Gladney dying. I had already read about George Sterling and Robert Foster dying and I did not think that I could handle her dying as well. All three of them, Gladney, Sterling and Foster, had became family members to me. In them, I saw member of my own family. Ida Mae reminds me of my great grandmother, who is originally from Texas but migrated to California in the 1950s. Wilkerson did a great job telling the story of the Great Migration and the people the participated in it.
NonfictionNut More than 1 year ago
If you liked The Help you will like this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Deeply moving expose of the struggles and triumphs of Black people who survived slavery, only to be confronted with a violent system of Jim Crow laws and unwritten rules. The stories of the three main characters capture beautifully the story of this transformative migration. Most memorable book I have read in many years.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read in ages. It should be a "mandatory read" for all high school history classes.
CamilleStern More than 1 year ago
This is a story that should also be told in school. What a wonderful learning experience - and a defining moment in everyeone's life during the 20th century. Tenderly written, with such great detail, keeps you yearning for more. Highly recommend.
PhDrSeuss More than 1 year ago
i found the warmth of other suns to be very interestin & (to me) educational. i enjoy readin stories like this & learned alot bout what happened in the past. i felt & understood what Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, George Swanson Startling & Robert Joseph Pershing Foster all went thru. i have relatives who also migrated from the south in the 1920's and wanted 2 ask was it anythin like this 4 them. each cahracter int hse book (and thos ei asked) went thru a different life and came here just bout for the same reasons. i thought bout the states the people (i asked) came from and how it matched up alot. their family origially all came to be the same ... South or either North Carolina. made me think so thats where alota people from here came from.
ChanFan More than 1 year ago
If the topic is even remotely of interest to you, you owe it to yourself to read this fascinating book. Dr. Wilkerson does a remarkable job of taking the reader to the places Ida Mae, George, and Robert lived, both physically and emotionally and what it was like to them to be hated and relegated to servant status. The book goes into vivid detail about the paths taken both North and West and yes, back to the 'Old Country' - the South, and the challenges encountered upon arrival and return to both. I have a much better understanding of the people whose struggle for equality spanned the course of hundreds of years, some of which were only able to get a glimpse and a slight taste of what many of us have taken for granted all our lives.
AML3 More than 1 year ago
This book draws the reader in from the beginning and is hard to put down once one gets aquainted with the three people Wilkerson follows. The quantity and level of research done is daunting, yet it never becomes a list of facts and events. The portraits of the three central figures are as sharply drawn over the course of the 500 plus pages as I've ever seen--and the sense of each as a full and complete person grows as the book unfolds. I often find fault with volumes like this that reveal history through individual stories, but I found little to fault with this book. It is a masterpiece that lays out the context with as much skill as it draws the portraits of its cntral figures. Oh to be able to write as well as Wilkerson!
JWatley More than 1 year ago
This is an incredible book, for any reader insterested in American history. It tells the stories of different people, different journeys, and different outcomes, yet somehow manages to pull them all together. It is not a "Black" book any more than "The Grapes of Wrath" is a "White" book. Its themes of humiliation and loss leading to a desire for a better life are universal. it makes me wish I was ina Book Club so that I could discuss it with others!
ThatOne More than 1 year ago
Quite frankly, this was a stunning and eye-opening book for me. It really helped me to understand some of the things I experienced as a young Puerto Rican boy growing up in the South Bronx in the 60's and 70's where the population was either Black or Puerto Rican. The content of the book is awesome as is the writing style. I could not put it down. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to truly understand the history of our country and why things are the way they are, and why things like Affirmative Action were necessary.
DTee More than 1 year ago
This book is so great and enlightening I can't find the words to do it justice. It fills in a gap of not just African-American history but American history that has been long overlooked. Isabel Wilkerson has given us a treasure!
BronxNook More than 1 year ago
An amazing read! Thank you, Dr. Wilkerson, for writing this!
Anonymous 3 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is packed with facts and feelings. I think it is essential to understanding how we have gotten to where we are today. Such a gigantic movement of people in hopes of a better life deserves to be known. A very well told chronicle.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We move to midnight sun sory for eing inactive