The Warmth of Other Suns

By Isabel Wilkerson,

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

Book description

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this beautifully written masterwork, the Pulitzer Prize–winnner and bestselling author of Caste 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,…

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Why read it?

7 authors picked The Warmth of Other Suns as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Wilkerson embeds us with some of the millions of Black men and women who fled the Jim Crow South between 1915 and 1970, describing communities abandoned and hopes realized or disappointed. Robert Foster left his Louisiana town for Southern California, where he navigated new forms of racism to establish himself as a surgeon and prominent social figure. Ida Mae Gladney took her family from Mississippi to Chicago, where lodging, segregation, and “mind-numbing labor” scarcely improved on that of the South. But it was in Chicago that Ida Mae was first able to vote. Through the lives of people like these,…

From Laura's list on giving human faces to history.

On November 6, 2011, I went to see an interview of Isabel Wilkerson. I had never heard of her before, but I loved the publicized summary of her new book that told the story of the great migration of 6 million Black people from the South to the North and West. I loved the fact that she told this amazing historical story through the experiences of 3 different people from 3 different states, who migrated to 3 unique regions of the country. 

During the interview, I learned that this brilliant Black female scholar devoted 15 years of research to this…

There has been no more searing account of the indignities and humiliations, the powerlessness and sheer terror that marked Black life in the American South in the early twentieth century than The Warmth of Other Suns; no other book has so powerfully recorded the litany of injustices that led millions to embark on the journey north that became known as the Great Migration. But the life-giving, beating heart of this book lies in the narratives that Isabel Wilkerson offers of three participants in that migration – Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, George Swanson Starling, and Robert Joseph Pershing Foster. Like…

From Matthew's list on books that read like novels.

Former New York Times correspondent Isabel Wilkerson spent a decade reporting this exquisitely written book, which traces the broad arc of the migration that brought six million blacks from the rural South to the industrial North between 1915 and 1970, and reconstructs in novelistic detail how it shaped the lives of three migrants. By the end of its more than 600 pages, you come to know her three subjects—former sharecropper Ida Mae Gladney of Chicago, Harlem striver George Starling and Los Angeles surgeon Robert Foster—intimately, and to understood both the dreams that drove their relocation and the poignant personal toll…

From Mark's list on the great Black migration.

This is just a must-read book of history. Wilkerson brilliantly tells the story of the Great Migration through the lens of three individuals. It is such an important chapter of American history that has long been overlooked. Over six million African Americans moved from the south to the north. It was a huge upheaval in the cities and towns all across the country—and how it happened, how it reshaped the country, how it had lasting effects on so many lives is painstakingly told here. But it is also a great and compelling read. I love non-fiction that reads like this,…

It might seem a bit strange to look to a book about people who left the South to get a better sense of the meaning of southern identity. Yet, Isabel Wilkerson offers just that in this moving account of the experiences of three participants in the "Great Migration" of southern blacks to northern cities between 1915 and 1970. No aspect of her book is more compelling than her discerning sensitivity to the uneven mixture of active bitterness and latent affinity that so many black migrants seemed to feel toward the South they never quite managed to leave behind.

From James' list on that "tell about the South".

This book about the great migration explodes the myth that African-Americans were greeted with open arms. It expanded my knowledge and understanding of institutional racism and deepened my empathy for the plight of people of color. Wilkerson used the stories of real people and their struggle to overcome discrimination to weave the complex tale that is the fabric of America. Well-written and a delightful read.

From Diane's list on racism in the USA.

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