The Warmth of Other Suns

Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 2010-09-07
Publisher(s): Random House
List Price: $38.00

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Customer Reviews

Read this book!  April 23, 2011
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This textbook should be read by every child and adult. It gives an excellent insight in to the South's Jim Crow Laws. The experience shows us how America really came in to being what it is today and why it was the way it was in the 40'- 90's. And in some part, today. The Warmth of Other Suns points out all of his History that does not leave the reader uneducated of those times in history. . I picked up this cheap textbook by accident and found it surprisingly useful, deep, and intriguing. Recommended.

The Warmth of Other Suns: 5 out of 5 stars based on 1 user 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. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.

With stunning historical detail, Wilkerson tells this story through the lives of three unique individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago, where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois Senate seat; sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for Harlem, where he endangered his job fighting for civil rights, saw his family fall, and finally found peace in God; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue a medical career, the personal physician to Ray Charles as part of a glitteringly successful medical career, which allowed him to purchase a grand home where he often threw exuberant parties.

Wilkerson brilliantly captures their first treacherous and exhausting cross-country trips by car and train and their new lives in colonies that grew into ghettos, as well as how they changed these cities with southern food, faith, and culture and improved them with discipline, drive, and hard work. Both a riveting microcosm and a major assessment, The Warmth of Other Suns is a bold, remarkable, and riveting work, a superb account of an “unrecognized immigration” within our own land. Through the breadth of its narrative, the beauty of the writing, the depth of its research, and the fullness of the people and lives portrayed herein, this book is destined to become a classic.

“A landmark piece of nonfiction…. sure to hold many surprises for readers of any race or experience….A mesmerizing book that warrants comparison to The Promised Land, Nicholas Lemann’s study of the Great Migration’s early phase, and Common Ground, J. Anthony Lukas’s great, close-range look at racial strife in Boston….Wilkerson’s closeness with, and profound affection for, her subjects reflect her deep immersion in their stories and allow the reader to share that connection.”-Janet Maslin, The New York Times

The Warmth of Other Suns is a brilliant and stirring epic, the first book to cover the full half-century of the Great Migration… Wilkerson combines impressive research…with great narrative and literary power. Ms. Wilkerson does for the Great Migration what John Steinbeck did for the Okies in his fiction masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath; she humanizes history, giving it emotional and psychological depth.”-John Stauffer, Wall Street Journal

“A massive and masterly account of the Great Migration….A narrative epic rigorous enough to impress all but the crankiest of scholars, yet so immensely readable as to land the author a future place on Oprah’s couch.” -David Oshinsky, The New York Times Book Review (Cover Review)

“A deeply affecting, finely crafted and heroic book ….Wilkerson has taken on one of the most important demographic upheavals of the past century—a phenomenon whose dimensions and significance have eluded many a scholar—and told it through the lives of three people no one has ever heard of….This is narrative nonfiction, lyrical and tragic and fatalist. The story exposes; the story moves; the story ends. What Wilkerson urges, finally, isn’t argument at all; it’s compassion. Hush, and listen.” -Jill Lepore, The New Yorker

Author Biography

Isabel Wilkerson won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for her reporting as Chicago bureau chief of The New York Times. The award made her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African American to win for individual reporting. She won the George Polk Award for her coverage of the Midwest and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for her research into the Great Migration. She has lectured on narrative writing at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University and has served as Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University and as the James M. Cox Jr. Professor of Journalism at Emory University. She is currently Professor of Journalism and Director of Narrative Nonfiction at Boston University. During the Great Migration, her parents journeyed from Georgia and southern Virginia to Washington, D.C., where she was born and reared. This is her first book.

Table of Contents

In The Land of the Forefathersp. 1
Leavingp. 3
The Great Migration, 1915-1970p. 8
Beginningsp. 17
Ida Mae Brandon Gladneyp. 19
The Stirrings of Discontentp. 36
George Swanson Starlingp. 47
Robert Joseph Pershing Fosterp. 72
A Burdensome Laborp. 95
The Awakeningp. 124
Breaking Awayp. 165
Exodusp. 181
The Appointed Time of Their Comingp. 183
Crossing Over
The Kinder Mistressp. 223
Chicagop. 225
New Yorkp. 227
Los Angelesp. 230
The Things They Left Behindp. 238
Transplanted in Alien Soilp. 242
Divisionsp. 260
To Bend in Strange Windsp. 285
The Other Side of Jordanp. 302
Complicationsp. 332
The River Keeps Runningp. 351
The Prodigalsp. 364
Disillusionmentp. 371
Revolutionsp. 385
The Fullness of the Migrationp. 413
Aftermathp. 433
In the Places They Leftp. 435
Lossesp. 445
More north and West than Southp. 455
Redemptionp. 465
And, Perhaps, to Bloomp. 481
The Winter of Their Livesp. 491
The Emancipation of Ida Maep. 516
Epiloguep. 527
Notes on Methodologyp. 539
Afterwordp. 545
Acknowledgmentsp. 547
Notesp. 555
Indexp. 589
Permissions Acknowledgmentsp. 621
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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