Chrissie'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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bookshelves: bio, history, race, usa, kindle, sample-g, dnf

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 that will lead to the crumbling of the Jim Crow laws and the southern caste system. I want to be emotionally moved; only in this way can I come to understand their experiences. Along the way I want to learn how America has been impacted by black history. I am not disappointed so far,

but wait...... here is what I think after reading more and more and more:

I did not finish this book, quite simply because what I want is to sink into another world. This book doesn't fit that bill. I read more than half, so I feel I can tell you what I observed, to help you decide if you want to read it. Although the book focuses on three individuals, as stated above, there are so many other stories, details and examples of the injustices experienced by the blacks in the US beginning at the turn of the 19th century that I became distracted and could not focus on the three individuals.

I know this sounds bizarre, but the book was too comprehensive. Someone is sure to protest and say that all these facts, all these injustices must be stated so the reader understands how it really was for Blacks living under the Jim Crow laws. Of course such a protest has some truth, but you can overdo anything. All the injustices listed, one after the other, were hard to swallow. The excessive details became distracting. The historical sections thrown in between the sections on the lives of Ida, George and Robert were distracting. In addition, I found myself less interested in Robert than in the other two. So there goes one third of my interest out the window. I feel the book should have focused more on the three individuals and skipped some of the other historical details.

I am not saying I disliked this book. I am not saying it isn't terribly interesting, but it didn't draw me in. That was the kind of book I was searching for. Some of the events told are horrible, and thus moving, but the historical sections are comprised of facts and histories and events piled on top of each other. In these sections the reader is not shown, but told and told and told. You will learn a lot from the book, but it is still predominantly a "history book". Other history books have pulled me in more. A superb history book, now that I cannot put down. Before you pick up this book be sure you are in the mood for a long, detailed, in-depth recounting of black people's history.

Maybe this book does deserve four stars, but it didn't fit what I thought I would get; I gave it three.
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Reading Progress

September 3, 2010 – Shelved
September 3, 2010 – Shelved as: bio
September 3, 2010 – Shelved as: history
September 3, 2010 – Shelved as: race
September 3, 2010 – Shelved as: usa
March 11, 2011 – Shelved as: kindle
July 10, 2011 – Started Reading
July 10, 2011 – Shelved as: sample-g
July 16, 2011 – Shelved as: dnf
July 16, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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Lynne In some ways, I had the same problem with In the Garden. It was incident after incident inexorably leading to the horrors.

Chrissie Yes, I see the similarity. Too much extraneous information can detract, and the book I was reading has been sold as being one that draws you into the blacklife experience.

message 3: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara Well stated review, Chrissie! I agree, repetition does not always enhance a point.
I'm old enough to remember many of the outrageous indignities to which the black people (now called "Afro-American) were subjected. Although things are not perfect, I see enough positive changes to feel encouraged.

Chrissie FINALLY, things are getting better!

Milton I enjoyed it very much, but I come to this book from a more personal perspective. I have relatives that participated in the Migration, some who relocated to the areas mentioned. To see someone bring these experiences to light in such a detailed and intelligent way was refreshing. I guess it's all about your perspective.

Chrissie Milton, I agree with you. Each one of us approaches a book with different baggage.

Chrissie Simran, it is not a waste of time.

Chrissie Simran, it is a good book, I just think the media overdid the praise.

message 9: by Charlene (new) - added it

Charlene Intriago Another great review. Thanks!

Chrissie Thanks, Charlene.

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