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

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  25,002 ratings  ·  3,450 reviews
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. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilk ...more
Hardcover, 1st, 622 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Random House (first published 2010)
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Feb 25, 2011 JJ rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone, espescially those who like history.
Thinking back, I tried to recall some of the migrations that took place within America that I had learned about:

- The Gold Rush
- The Dustbowl Migration

Somewhere along the lines, my teachers forgot to mention the approximately six million people that left the Jim Crow South during 1915-1975, in search of a “kinder mistress”, and that they summoned up the courage, and risked their lives to drive cross-country, illegally hop trains, and save for months to secure a train ticket headed to Los Angeles
This is going to sound a little weird, but throughout my reading of The Warmth of Other Suns, which is primarily about the migration of black Americans from the Jim Crow South to western and northern U.S. cities during a large portion of the 20th century, I kept thinking about my upper-middle-class white high school biology teacher, Mrs. Ferry. Mrs. Ferry had a pretty significant impact on the direction my life took—she was a vibrant older woman who demanded a lot from her students, and those qu ...more
I loved this book on several levels--though with one caveat. First and foremost, by narrating the lives of three very different participants in the Great Migration, Wilkerson fleshes out an important historical story that most of us know only in general outline, if that. The details of routine racial discrimination that these individuals faced both before and after coming to the North are horrifyingly vivid and impossible to ignore. Wilkerson's research is thorough and deep, and her (somewhat co ...more
I wish I had it in my power to make this book required reading for everyone, at least all students. When we cringe at the horrors waged against others in the world today, we need to remember our own not so distant history and take the lead in driving change.

Sep 15, 2011 Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers of American history
Excellent history of the movement of American blacks out of the southern states and into the north and west of the U.S. to escape the impact of the continuing Jim Crow laws on every facet of their lives. Wilkerson has found three exemplars of this internal migration who individually moved to New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, three of the popular points due to railway lines and highways. Using these three individuals we learn some of the reasons black citizens without rights decided to make thi ...more
I loved this!! If you haven't read it, you are missing something astonishing and deeply moving. Wilkerson shows us the migration of blacks from the south to the north from 1915 through 1970 through the lives of three main characters - Ida Mae Gladney (Chickasaw County, Mississippi to Chicago), George Swanson Starling (Wildwood, Florida to New York City), and Robert Pershing Foster (Monroe, Louisiana to Los Angeles). Three very different people with different stories over different decades, but t ...more
Through page 72: I am finding this book both intellectually interesting and emotionally gripping. That is exactly what I have been looking for. The book focuses on the lives of three blacks: Ida Mae who emigrated from Mississippi to Chicago in 1937, George who fled from Florida to NY in 1945 and finally Robert Pershing who left in 1953 seeking to establish himself in California. The book follow these three individual and others for 100 years, During two world wars, the Depression and the events ...more

After listening to The Warmth of Other Suns for close to two months in 40 minute increments on my walk to work every morning, the main thing I want to say is WOW. This book is extraordinary in so many ways. And I think I have to break my self-imposed one paragraph rule for this review because there are so many dimensions to the Warmth of Other Suns.

Wilkerson writes a comprehensive multidimensional book about the great migration -- the move by millions of African Americans from the southern U.S.
Say you want to tell the story of ~6,000,000 Americans of African descent migrating from the southern to the northern US from the 1910s to the late 1970s. Six million is a big ol’ chunk of people. And a comprehensive picture of this Great Migration has been largely left out of the textbooks and consciousness of many of your potential hearers. What do you do?

Well, if you’re Isabel Wilkerson, you take 15 years of work and >1200 interviews and transform them into the page-turning, gut-punching,
Gary  the Bookworm
“I was leaving the South
to fling myself into the unknown . . .
I was taking a part of the South
to transplant in alien soil,
to see if it could grow differently,
if it could drink of new and cool rains,
bend in strange winds,
respond to the warmth of other suns
and, perhaps, to bloom”
― Richard Wright

Isabel Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and a daughter of the Great Migration, writes with conviction and passion. To tell us about the relocation of southern, mostly rural black people to
I found this book very absorbing, even though the onset of work in the fall meant I had to put it aside for far too long.

The section on migration to Milwaukee I found especially fascinating. I grew up in a small town just outside that city, a sleepy little place fast becoming a bedroom suburb. We had been there only a few years when a strange rumor swept up and down our dead-end road -- a Black family had bought the house for sale down on the corner and would be moving in soon!

There was some ex
Enthralling work of narrative nonfiction about a vitally important part of American history. I want this to be made into a show on HBO.

This book tells the story of the migration of African Americans from the South, starting in 1915 and continuing into the 1950s and even until the 1970s. Millions of black people left the South and settled in the North and West of the United States, mostly in urban areas. In many ways they were similar to immigrants fleeing oppression from another land. "They were
My grandparents migrated to California from Louisiana after WWII, and they - like the migrants described in this book - met their new world with a combination of wariness and determination, surrounding themselves with others they knew growing up, a vegetable garden in the backyard, recipes from down home, and family values that they passed on to their children and grandchildren. As a result of their choice to leave all that was familiar to them, I had better educational opportunities and the abi ...more
The Warmth of Other Suns is a transformative book, one that can profoundly change and shape the way we view American history. The list of awards and accolades is so long the book does not need my imprimateur, but I will echo each and every one by saying, "Read this."

From 1915 to 1970, thousands of black Americans undertook a pilgrimage of hope and determination that led them from cotton fields, rice and tobacco plantations, from villages and towns in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky
Beyond Powerful

The Great Migration (1916-1970) is such an epic part of American history and the largest movement of a people; over 6 million African Americans relocating from the rural South to cities in the North & West. The years of relocation had a great impact on urban life and economic conditions in the United States. This book should be required reading for all middle/high school students. Adults should treat themselves to this wonderful book as well. “That the Negro American has survi
Eric Kibler
You say it can't happen here? Well guess what? It did. By that I mean the repressive, nightmarish type of scenario we often see in dystopian fiction like "1984" and "The Handmaid's Tale". After the Civil War, the Federal Government stepped in and regulated race relations in the South. But this regulation only lasted a few years until the bile of the white South became too great to bear. Then followed nearly 100 years of "Jim Crow". Sometimes the words "Jim Crow" are followed by the word "Laws", ...more
I remember that even we, with as little money as we had, had three members of a local black family working for us down in Alabama on Chickadale Farm. John helped daddy with the chickens, Essie came and cleaned on Saturdays (when her "sugar" wasn't bothering her). And when she was down with her sugar, she sent Juliet. I was enchanted with Juliet. I don't remember specifically why I was enamored with her - I think it was that she was so young and these three were the only black people I knew (othe ...more
This was an enjoyable experience from beginning to end. The author chronicles the lives of many who fled the south and focuses on three incredible individuals. It is a testament to all who wanted a better life for themselves and for their family. It is a story we need to hear again and again until we put aside our differences and embrace our fellow man.
I can't think of anyone to whom I would not recommend this book.
Narrative history, with heavy beautiful emphasis on the narrative, and only a few small framing essays on the history. Reads like a compelling novel. Great stuff about how the people talk, act, think.

An impressive work, and one on an important part of American history. Others have already given this book great praise, I defer to them.
An amazing story about the mass migration of blacks fleeing to the North and West in order to escape the horrors of the Jim Crow south. Isabel Wilkerson interviewed more than 1,000 people and spent years completing her thorough research. This work of non-fiction highlights the stories of three unrelated individuals, Ida Mae Gladney, Robert Foster, and George Starling in their journeys from Mississippi to Chicago, Louisiana to Los Angeles, and Florida to New York City, respectively. The atrocitie ...more
Leslie Reese
My Uncle Jerry appreciated this book so much that when he finished reading it, he sent me his hardcover copy through the mail in order to make sure I read it! I hail from Detroit, and some of my elders, there---knowing how much I read and write---told me it was an ABSOLUTE MUST-READ. Nobody lied! This book is a powerful, sensitive, exhaustively researched and compellingly composed and important work of “narrative nonfiction” written by journalist-turned-griot, Isabel Wilkerson.
It has been easy
This is the story of the migration of blacks from the South to the North and West of the United States. For over 60 years, from World War I to the early 1970's, a steady stream of people left the Jim Crow South to seek freedom in the northern and western cities. The author has traced the story of three different people who left the South during three different decades and going to three different cities. Their stories represent the millions of blacks who left. Were their lives better in the Nort ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
In The Warmth of Other Suns Wilkerson has composed a masterpiece of narrative journalism on a subject vital to our national identity, as compelling as it is heartbreaking and hopeful. Critics, however, were less certain about whether Wilkerson has written a definitive history of the Great Migration. Several reviewers saw the book as an important corrective to previous scholarship on the Migration that too often grouped African Americans into a voiceless mass, that focused exclusively on the nega ...more
It's always impressive when a non-fiction book explores a topic that it would never occur to me to read about and manages to be not only educational but interesting. In The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, Wilkerson describes African American migration from the Jim Crow south to the more subtly racist north over the course of the 20th century. In addition to offering well-researched historical details on the broader movement Wilkerson narrows her focus to three ...more
The older we get, the more we read, the more we realize that the history textbooks given to us in public schools when we were children left gaping holes where the shadow side of this nation’s history should have been. It is only as an adult, independent reader, that I have learned most (if not all) of what I know about American history. And while I had a general idea about the Great Migration—the exodus of about 6 million black Southerners moving north from 1915 to 1970—it was only by reading Is ...more
I would recommend this as required reading for all high school students as well as adult history buffs and anyone, like me, who appreciates a personalized, yet no less analytical account of an important historical event presented in a lively, readable manner. Wilkerson presents the story of the Great Migration of Blacks from the South to the North and West of the United States that took place from the 1930s though the 1970s and changed the face of this country. The author intersperses historical ...more
Here’s a book I wish I could encourage every reader I know to add to their list – not only because it’s a good read, but more importantly because we all need to be more aware of what it has to teach us. It’s a meticulously researched and superbly written narrative about the great migration of some six million black Americans who left the South during the years between WWI and the 1970’s. The author is a descendent of parents whose stories are similar to so many others who made the often perilous ...more
Isabel Wilkerson is my new Hero!!!

She wrote a remarkable historical epic!! (Ambitious)...Over 10 years of research. The stories are heart wrenching. She gives us an in depth education about the Great American Migration in this country ---and manages to keep us completely engaged from start to finish. I admit --I was a little worried that this book would be too long ---I would 'drift-off' pretty soon (I was thinking---"I'll skip some parts") >>> but I couldn't do it.... I read EVERY WOR
After 15 years of research, Pulitzer Prize winning author Isabel Wilkerson has written an epic narrative nonfiction account of the decades long exodus of millions of emancipated , but certainly not free, black people fleeing the Jim Crow regulation and atrocities of the South to an uncertain future in the North and West. Focusing on the stories of Ida Mae Gladney, Robert Foster, and George Starling, each leaving in different decades, from different areas , but for many of the same reasons , this ...more
Video Review:

As an offspring of the Great Migration, this book meant a lot to me. I will forever be indebted to Isabel Wilkerson and the three individuals who this great work follows for painting a picture of the South that my grandparents and great-relatives left behind. I'd highly recommend this work for anybody who wants to dedicate their time to reading a well put together work of non-fiction.
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Goodreads Librari...: not literary fiction 2 289 Apr 21, 2015 07:43PM  
How we got to the north, midwest and west. 8 82 Nov 18, 2013 02:23PM  
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“They did what human beings looking for freedom, throughout history, have often done. They left.” 15 likes
“Our Negro problem, therefore, is not of the Negro's making. No group in our population is less responsible for its existence. But every group is responsible for its continuance.... Both races need to understand that their rights and duties are mutual and equal and their interests in the common good are idential.... There is no help or healing in apparaising past responsibilities or in present apportioning of praise or blame. The past is of value only as it aids in understanding the present; and an understanding of the facts of the problem--a magnanimous understanding by both races--is the first step toward its solution.” 12 likes
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