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

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
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Mar 13, 2012

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Between 1915 and 1975, more than 6 million African Americans left the South for the "Promised Land" in the Northeast, Midwest, and West. This book tells how and why they left and what happened to three migrants who settled in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles respectively. Wilkerson vividly sketches the horrors of Jim Crow and the rigors of black urban life, and she sympathetically portrays the struggles and sorrows of her three protagonists. What's missing, though, is the warmth: the joys of African American life in both the South and North. She refers in passing to the blues, southern cooking, northern rent parties, family support systems, etc. but fails to convey how these helped the migrants hold on to their southern roots while building new lives in the north. As the main characters grow old, Wilkerson tells us how much they had meant to the people around them in their new homes, but she hadn't shown us much of that beforehand. It's a missed opportunity that keeps this important and insightful book from being as moving as its subject deserves.
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