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

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  77 ratings  ·  32 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
Hardcover, 360 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Harry N. Abrams
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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
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
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
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
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
Linda Bond
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Overground Railroad is an impressive tour through a particular chapter in our history – one in which black citizens took advantage of their right to own a vehicle and to travel U.S. highways. But it was not particularly safe for them, especially in southern states, where they were often turned away from restaurants, hotels/motels, gas stations and all sorts of local businesses. A recent very successful movie – The Green Book – turned a spotlight on one of the things that made a big difference to ...more
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
*** Review copy received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***

As someone more familiar with the Hollywood film "The Green Book," I wanted to consult a more well-researched and historically accurate guide that discussed this historical document. I should note that while I found the film interesting, it was primarily geared toward making white audiences feel better about themselves. Critics, including Don Shirley's family members, were quick to point out that the film stretched the
Ted Waterfall
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an absolutely amazing book! Candacy Taylor has written a wonderfully readable and eye-opening account of a vital publication called The Green Book, which helped the black traveler on the road to find safe accommodations and businesses willing to serve him during the height of Jim Crow oppression. The impact of this book went beyond this. It also meant more investments in black owned businesses that were listed and the resulting economic boost. The description of many of these businesses, ...more
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Author Candacy Taylor takes readers on a trip across America and through an important era in America's segregated history with "Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America." This book not only charts the rise of African-American leisure travel and how this pastime was aided by Victor H. Green's "Negro Motorist Green Book," it manages to link the past to the present by incorporating historical research, photos, anecdotes, and field research from Taylor's visits to ...more
This was an interesting and well-detailed book about the history of the famous Green Book and first hand accounts from African American individuals and families from the 1920s to the late 1960s. This book is divided based on the years that the Green Book was published as well as particular events in American History. In each chapter, the book illustrates what African American families had to experience while traveling or returning from war and what businesses were welcoming. Mr. Green, the ...more
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
Overground Railroad by Candacy A. Taylor is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late November.

The real Green Book, as interpreted by Taylor (who does most of her research on the road with her life and safety often at risk) and her family, which was published for the first time in 1936 by Victor Green and annually released until 1967. It talks in-depth about the Green Book itself, the events going on that year in history, and of the known and unknown of driving while black, like the danger of
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
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding and fascinating history of the Green Book--a guide for black Americans during Jim Crow that listed safe businesses to shop at, safe places to stay, safe garages to fill up their cars, and other places and people who could help them as they travelled the country. Author Candacy Taylor has not just examined the book, its creation, and publication, but also conducted interviews with people who used it, taking her work beyond the abstract or academic and demonstrating how ...more
Lindsay McBride
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved the way Candacy Taylor wove in narrative with intensive research. This book is just as much about the history of the green book as it is about racial issues today. It’s a commentary about the ways in which our history has defined our country today as well as celebrates black achievement and entrepreneurship. I also really enjoyed that she gave the reader specific things to do to make change as well as lists the green book sites by each city! It’s an amazing read and I can’t wait for the ...more
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received this book as part of a goodreads giveaway.

This book was interesting and engaging. It describes not just the history of segregation and the rise of African-American travelers, but also how the Green Book was developed and how the travel guide evolved over time. By incorporating stories and photos in addition to the historical research, it makes the past come alive, and shows how things have changed (and how some things haven't) in the half century since the Green Book was last
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Moved by stories of his youth by her step father and the struggle his black family makes to travel in our country Ms. Taylor has provided a detailed study of the Green Book the legendary travel guide for minorities in the mid twentieth century. She crosses the country taking photographs of all the locations that are either still in existence or are used for a different purpose now. She also shows Green Book cover art and excerpts over the years. I teach college level history and I learned a ...more
Stormie ~ Book Dragon ~
This is more of a statement than a review, but once I am able to read the book, then I will provide one.

I am hoping to get a copy of this book and read it soon. The founder of the two museums that I volunteer at, provided some of the items for the Smithsonian exhibit and also some of the research. She has talked so much about Candacy and what her project was about, that I really want to read this book.
Melinda M
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America by Candacy Taylor covers a historical look at Black Travel in America. When Jim crow was the rule where could Blacks stay when they traveled? Candacy Taylor covers this topic by telling about the Green Book. The Green Book was the Black equivalent of AAA club travel book. It is well researched and an interesting read.
I received a copy thru a Goodreads Giveaway.
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of this book from a Goodreads giveaway. First off, it’s gorgeous. The layout and pictures are fantastic! I love learning about history, but some history books are so dry. This is not one of them. The writing is superb and blends historical facts with personal stories and connects it all with what’s presently happening. This is such an important read.
The Pink Panther
Feb 15, 2020 rated it liked it
The Green Book was a directory for black travelers in the USA, during the mid 20th century. It listed Hotels, shops etc which welcomed black customers. This was before the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. The very fact that a green book was necessary says a lot about racism in that time, and "Overground railroad" tells an extraordinary story.
Kristin Troska
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This is an excellent collection of history that should never be forgotten. None of this was taught when I was in school; I learned so much reading this book. Easy to read, interesting stories, historical pictures make this a valuable tool for remembering and preserving important history. I read this book as an ARC and highly recommend it to others.
Janis Rich
Feb 12, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is a very informative book about the perils of travel from 1936 to 1966 for black people in America. There were many stories that were very interesting to me, but the book is very long and I found myself losing a few days and then going back to it. Nevertheless, there were some things I never knew before about the history of our country.
Ralph Cooper
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An insightful read.
Author site >

Travelling with the Green Book – CBS News, Jan. 2020
Jules Wolfers
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended to understand evolution of oppression from when ownership of car and travel from 1920's to 1960's, for Black people- even the northern states were not exception from promoting oppression.
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
G---reat book
N---ecessary read and very noteworthy


You need to read this book. It is an excellent piece of research that has been well-written and is very important to all of us.

Theodore Stavridis
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow this book is a must read. historically fascinating, extremely relevant to today, and the authors writing made it impossible to put down the book.
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Most excellent and unique telling of civil rights history. If you can get your hands on a copy, you must read it!
This is an incredibly important book, one I think needs to be read in schools.
*More of a review to come*
Patrick Macke
Jan 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
To be clear, the book is a sprawling, spray-to-all-fields account of racism and discrimination ... The Green Book's originator, Victor Green, is to be much admired
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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