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Overground Railroad: The Green Book Roots of Black Travel in America

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  992 ratings  ·  240 reviews
The first book to explore the historical role and residual impact of the Green Book, a travel guide for black motorists 

Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was hailed as the “black travel guide to America.” At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldn’t eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned b
Hardcover, 360 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Harry N. Abrams
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Stacy I would say that it is. The author did a fantastic job of researching this book.

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Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
"Carry your Green Book with you . . . you may need it!" -- the admonishment often listed on the cover

About a year ago a film called Green Book (starring Mahershala Ali, an actor who is lately receiving a lot of well-deserved accolades; I thought he was just outstanding in the third season of HBO's True Detective anthology series) was released in theaters. I had no idea what the title meant, and I have not yet had a chance to watch the acclaimed film. But it spurred me on to select Taylor's Overg
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Living in Japan for the past decade or so, I always find it difficult to express to people what life was and is like for black men and women in America. There is always a kind of shock and horror at the endemic racism in America’s history and that it lives on even after a black president.
At this point I’m often asked, “How did people survive under these conditions? How did they have families and lives?”
Not having lived through some of the truly horrible history, I can only imagine that one
Sep 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Between 1936 and 1966 a guide called the “Green Book” was published to assist black people in finding accommodations when traveling in America. Through most of this time, it was published by Victor Hugo Green, a postal worker from Harlem. The fact that such a guide was needed is shameful, but without it there would not have been a way to find food, housing, gas or bathrooms in most of this country. The book featured black-owned businesses and black-friendly ones. This was no small task consideri ...more
Nancy Oakes
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
full post here:

This book is a must read. An absolute must read.

I'd first heard of the Green Book while reading Matt Ruff's novel Lovecraft Country a couple of years back. In the novel, set in the 1950s, one of the characters was the editor/publisher of something called The Safe Negro Travel Guide. I remember at the time thinking what a crap thing it was that something like The Safe Negro Travel Guide had to even exist, and wondering if there was some unde
Bonnie DeMoss
Sep 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Overall this was not as expected. I thought it was about the history of the Green Book and stories of the brave business owners who opened their doors to people of color, even when they were taking a risk to do so. There is a little bit of that in the book. But the author spends a lot of time on current political topics and their opinion of the President. I have been avoiding current political books and reviews by choice, so I don’t like it when a political book is represented as something else. ...more
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting and informative book to read. I learned about things I never thought about reading the book.

Green Book was hailed as the “black travel guide to America.” At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldn’t eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned businesses. The Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses that were safe for black travelers. It was a resourceful and innovative solution
Kimba Tichenor
Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was a travel guide for African Americans, providing potentially life-saving information about at what restaurants, hotels, boarding houses, tourist sites, countries, auto dealers, and even colleges they would be welcomed. Author and documentarian Candacy Taylor uses the history of the Green Book as a gateway into a much larger story about how black bodies in the United States have been surveilled, censured, and violated since the end of the Civil War a ...more
Jessica Haider
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is important to learn from history to get a better understanding of where society is at today. The year 2020 has helped shine a spot light on our continued need for equal treatment of all people. Overground Railroad talks about a very specific niche of Black history in America. Starting in the 1930's and continuing for several decades, the Green Book was published letting Black travelers know which businesses supported and welcomed Black people. This was important in a time when Jim Crow was ...more
Naia Pard
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: listened
This audiobook was given to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
When I first read the title, I was a little uneasy because I thought that I will be listening to a nine hour narration about somebody describing another book (the Green Book).
And I am glad that I was, I am glad that I did not give up and kept listening to it, anyhow.

Because this is not a book about a book this is a step by step immersion into why the Green Book had been needed in the first place in Jim
As with all the race-related reading I've done over the past couple of years, this book continues to teach me, to open my eyes, to make me understand.... I am so grateful to have access to these books, these accounts, these shared stories.

This book is an eye-opening & fascinating view of Black road travel (& its many related problems) from the 1930s through the 1960s. While the book is serious & obviously addresses horrific systemic & personal racism, it also remains upbeat in many ways, reflect
Oct 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
If it's possible to admire a book alone for its font, I do so wholeheartedly, along with a massive collection of fascinating photographs and mementos detailing the history of the Green Book travel guides. This compendium offers a viewpoint of this historical periodical that correctly researches it from within the author's culture as opposed to imposing a Hollywood shine on it, they of the ill-received Oscar-winning film of the same name. ...more
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The story of America is often the story of people moving -- migrating, pioneering, or just taking a vacation to see someplace new or visit relatives. But for Black Americans, moving is not the carefree Route 66 roadtrip that it is for white people. During Jim Crow, many hotels, restaurants, and even gas stations were off limits to Black travelers. The Green Book was one of several guides for Black motorists (as well as those traveling by train or bus) to let them know where they were welcome to ...more
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, audiobook
My copy of this was an audiobook and I loved the narrator. She is one of my favorites in the audiobook world. And to be honest I probably wouldn’t of enjoyed it as much if I had read it.

Now about the book. It’s a story of race in America. The green book was a guide-map that was created to allow African Americans safe travel. The first book was only 10 pages long. While writing this, the author visited 30 sites a day. These “green books” also represented survival. This book is a historical ac
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I can't say enough about how wonderful this book is. Not only does it explain the history of something that I'm going to say most people don't really know about, and not only does it have amazing photography to add to the story, but it uses real people's testimonies to give a personal element and help the reader feel the emotions that all the people affected by Jim Crow and segregation must have felt. It was a very emotionally taxing book, making me really think critically about all the history ...more
Dee Dee G
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book would just cover the Green Book but it’s full of history. There’s so much I didn’t know and learned about. Great read.
Panda Incognito
This book describes the history of the Green Book traveling guide for African Americans, chronologically exploring this project's development and impact from the mid-30s through integration. However, this book is also a guide to the author's personal thoughts about a variety of different political and social issues, and the Green Book is often just a backdrop to what she wants to say about later decades' events and contemporary problems. I ended up being very disappointed, because even though th ...more
I first learned about The Green Book from a picture book I borrowed from the library to read to my kids when they were little. The whole idea that people of color needed something like The Green Book, to be safe driving in America, is...sad, awful, horrible, and unfortunately necessary. I'm so glad they had it.

What an incredible effort Victor and Alma Green put into making The Green Book a comprehensive guide. And this book, this look at The Green Book, 'Overground Railroad', is an amazing trib
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
This was a great examination of the extent of the racial terrorism black people had to face through well into the 20th Century. Too many people think their hardships ended when slavery did, and nothing could be further from the truth. The author uses the Green Book as a guide to take us through the decades of "The Greatest Generation" and beyond to show us exactly how opposite of "great" this time period was for black people. Segregation, discrimination and racial violence were still rampant for ...more
I honestly think I favor reading nonfiction some days over jumping into a well-written fantasy novel. Civil Rights in America remains one of my favorite topics to learn about because you will never reach the end of all the lives and events that transpired. This is primarily because segregation and Jim Crow continually impact the country, despite legal and cultural shifts every few years.

Overground Railroad delves deep into the history of the Green Book, an African American guide to travel and e
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is more than just a review of what the Green Book was and the role it played in combating racism and giving dignity to black travelers. It also examines that history against current events, discussing the dismantling of those same black communities and businesses due to mass incarceration, as well as how, despite legal advances, black people are still not safe to travel, eat, and drive in safety. An excellent look at how history is never over and is never really past.
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Picked up in my quest to learn more about experiences outside my own. Heartbreaking overview of what it was like to travel as a black person or family in the early to mid 20th century. The Green Book was published between 1936 and 1966, and served as a guide to establishments around the country that were safe and friendly to black travelers. It not only included hotels, restaurants, and entertainment, but also hair dressers, mechanics, tailors, insurance salesmen, as well as the locations of gue ...more
Jazzy Lemon
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-authors
Imagine wanting to go on a trip and having to pack petrol, lots of food, blankets, pillows, towels, water for drinking and washing... and not knowing where it was SAFE for you to stop. Could you buy petrol? Food? Use the toilet?

For several decades the Green Book listed safe places for black people to travel in America and was a staple no one left home without. This is a history of the book Victor Hugo Green envisioned and printed for decades.

Now there is no Green Book, and yet it is still unsa
Sherrese Holder
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I found this book well written and informative. I plan on getting the children's version and teaching it as a part of our homeschool curriculum. ...more
Jerrika Rhone
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was ok
DNF @ 33%- Very little about the green book and more about Jim Crow.
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book should be SOLD OUT everywhere. If you are interested in Geography, History, Culture, and Social Justice, this book weaves all of these as it covers every edition of the Green Book from 1936 to 1967. The history of the Green Book reflects the history of the US during those decades.
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

Extremely interesting & quite frankly, a necessary book that everyone should have to read. I really didn’t know much of anything about the Green Book until I looked it up upon hearing there was going to be a movie with the same title a couple years back. It completely took me by surprise, because I hadn’t ever thought about how bad traveling must have been for Blacks back then - though given our terrible history, I know I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was. I just had no idea.
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Extremely well researched and written in a way that felt conversational, this book should be essential reading.

The photos included are worth the purchase alone (my ARC copy only provided black and white photos but the finished book prints in full color) as there are many.

There is also a site tour guide for buildings and former sites that were included in the Green Book, although many are gone now.
Apr 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: race-slavery
There is much to appreciate in this book, but frankly, it's a bit of a mess. It's not a professionally written history book. In the end, I wasn't sure if the project of documenting The Green Book prompted the author's diversion of focus away from it, or if it was the other way around, the project was used as a structure to get at the issues she really wanted to talk about all along. What did I appreciate? Certainly, reading about a number of "facilities" from the not so distant past that provide ...more
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Not what I expected. I wanted to learn more about the places in The Green Book and the TRAVELING experiences during the times of its publication. There was some of that but lots more personal (bitter) opinions and political viewpoints by the author.
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Candacy Taylor is an award-winning author, photographer and cultural documentarian working on a multidisciplinary project based on the Green Book. Taylor is the author of Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America (Abrams Books). She is also the curator and content specialist for an exhibition that will be toured by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition ...more

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