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The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration Paperback – October 4, 2011
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More About the Author
The book was named to more than 30 Best of the Year lists, including The New York Times' 10 Best Books of the Year, Amazon's 5 Best Books of the Year and Best of the Year lists in The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, USA Today, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, The San Francisco Examiner, Newsday, Salon, The Christian Science Monitor, O Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Entertainment Weekly and over a dozen others. It made national news when President Obama chose the book for summer reading in 2011. In 2012, The New York Times Magazine named Warmth to its list of the best nonfiction books of all time.
The Great Migration was one of the biggest underreported stories of the 20th Century. It lasted from 1915 to 1970, involved six million people and was one of the largest internal migrations in U.S. history. It changed the country, North and South. It brought us John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Toni Morrison, August Wilson, Bill Russell, Motown, Denzel Washington, Michelle Obama -- all children or grandchildren of the Great Migration. It changed the cultural and political landscape of the United States, exerting pressure on the South to change and paving the way toward equal rights for the lowest caste people in the country.
Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times in 1994, making 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 has appeared on national programs such as "Fresh Air with Terry Gross," "The Charlie Rose Show," "The PBS News Hour," CBS's "60 Minutes," NBC's "Nightly News," MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell," the BBC and others. She has served as Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University, as Cox Professor of Journalism at Emory University, as Professor of Journalism and Director of Narrative Nonfiction at Boston University and has lectured at more than 100 other colleges and universities across the U.S. and in Europe and Asia.
Follow Isabel Wilkerson on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Isabel-Wilkerson/140162739346559 and on Twitter via @isabelwilkerson.
Top Customer Reviews
This is the story... no- make that the stories... of the "Great Migration", the migration of sharecroppers and others from the Cotton Belt to the Big Cities: New York, Chicago, Detroit, LA and etc in the period between the World Wars. Over one million blacks left the South and went North (or West). Of course we all know the tale of the "Dust Bowl" and the "Okies", as captured by Steinbeck in words, by Dorothea Lange in photographs, and even in song by Woody Guthrie. But this was as big or even bigger (estimates vary), and to this day the story has not been covered anywhere near as well as the "Dust Bowl" migrations.
Wilkerson's book has more than ten years of research in its making, and thus is a large and weighty volume at more than 600 pages. It is also personally researched, the author having interviewed over 1,200 people. She picked three dozen of those to interview in great depth, and choose but three of those stories to present to you here.
The title of this book is taken from Richard Wright's "Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth": "I was taking a part of the South to transplant in alien soil, to see if it could grow differently, if it could drink of new and cool rains, bend in strange winds, respond to the warmth of other suns, and, perhaps, to bloom."
This book is a not an easy summer read, mind you.Read more ›
Isabel Wilkerson did a mountain of research to tell this story. She conducted some 1,200 interviews and digested a huge volume of sociological data. Wisely, she concentrated her book on just three of those six million people --- a gutsy woman from the cotton plantations of Mississippi, an orange picker from central Florida and an aspiring doctor from Louisiana. Each of them left the south in a different decade and with different motivations. They met with varying degrees of success and disappointment. While they didn't achieve everything they had hoped for, none of them in their final assessment regretted their move.
Wilkerson plays off these three protagonists against a vast chorus of others whose stories vary wildly but all come down to the determination to leave behind intolerable social oppression and at least try their luck in freer air. Wilkerson herself, a child of two black immigrants from Georgia, is a part of that chorus. Her book is valuable on several levels. It documents in gut-wrenching detail the brutal way these migrants were treated in the region of their birth. It is honest about their own personal failings and the not-always beneficial effect that northern life had on them. It challenges the popular assumption that they themselves caused the problems that have made their life up north so difficult.Read more ›
As a gay man, I often look to these books to be inspired by how black Americans "soldiered on" and showed such unbreakable spirit during these years. No, I personally never experienced even 1/10th of their struggle, but it still empowers me to face prejudice and avoid a lazy victimhood mentality. I am incredibly grateful for books like this, as should anyone who faces prejudice or discrimination by a majority.
Clearly a book of this scope took years to complete, and I'm rooting for this to win this year's National Book Award. I suggest you set aside a whole weekend like I did and savor every page of it.
"I was leaving the South
To fling myself into the unknown...
I was taking a part of the South
To transplant in alien soil,
To see if it could grow differently,
If it could drink of new and cool rains,
Bend in strange winds,
Respond to the warmth of other suns
And, perhaps, to bloom."
Based on more that 1200 interviews with participant in the Great Migration, Wilkerson's book is much more an oral history and a work of literature than it is an academic study.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the best books I've ever listened to and read. I also have the paper back book as well as the audiobook. I've listened to the audiobook with my grandchildren. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Cassandra
Beautifully written book about black migration from the south to the north for a better life. Very sad how poorly many were treated, but showed great strength in spite of the odds... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Virginia F. Brown
Fabulous narrative of life for Black people who migrated to different parts of America. My mother was part of that historic migration.Published 4 days ago by Elizabeth E. Byer
A previously untold epic migration in the history of mankind, personally presented!Published 8 days ago by Winifred Bell
Fantastic literary nonfiction. Story is told as a combination of history and vignettes. You'll love it.Published 8 days ago by russell bell
Excellent book ... I was pulled in and could hardly put it down. My first history read in ages and I'm so glad a friend suggested it. Read morePublished 8 days ago by JaeW