The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

93%

16 Critic Reviews

...she humanizes history, giving it emotional and psychological depth. She is especially good at capturing the experiential sense of life in the poor South and of the migration itself.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

One of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year

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.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Isabel Wilkerson

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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.
 
Published September 7, 2010 by Vintage. 640 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Oct 23 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Warmth of Other Suns
All: 16 | Positive: 14 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Excellent

An impressive take on the Great Migration, and a truly auspicious debut.

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NY Times

Above average
on Sep 02 2010

... a number of anecdotes and descriptions appear more than once...

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NY Times

Excellent
on Aug 30 2010

“The Warmth of Other Suns,”...does a superb job of capturing the way whole lives can be changed by small outrages, and the way those changes are neither irrevocable nor simple.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent

The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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WSJ online

Excellent
on Sep 04 2010

...she humanizes history, giving it emotional and psychological depth. She is especially good at capturing the experiential sense of life in the poor South and of the migration itself.

Read Full Review of The Warmth of Other Suns: The... | See more reviews from WSJ online

LA Times

Excellent
on Sep 19 2010

...Wilkerson's book pulls not just the expanse of the migration into focus but its overall impact on politics, literature, music, sports — in the nation and the world.

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Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
Reviewed by Tina Jordan on Sep 01 2010

...sprawling and stunning account of the Great Migration, the 55-year stretch (1915–70) during which 6 million black Americans fled the Jim Crow South...History is rarely distilled so finely.

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USA Today

Above average
on Oct 28 2010

Although repetitive at times, the book takes disparate memories and shapes them into a lyrical narrative in a you-are-there style of writing.

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The Seattle Times

Excellent
on Sep 18 2010

...the future novelist, reporter, historian, activist, informed citizen — all will come under the spell of personal narrative and see the need to dig deep and find history.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Excellent
on Sep 09 2010

The Warmth of Other Suns is an impassioned history, by turns sweeping and specific, celebratory and shocking.

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Boston.com

Excellent
Reviewed by David Shribman on Sep 16 2010

This is a story sensitively and deftly told, not so much a tale of triumph as one of travail, unless of course you consider the triumph of the human will that this movement captured and then fostered.

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Oprah.com

Excellent

Scholarly but very readable, this book, for all its rigor, is so absorbing...

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Journey With Jesus

Excellent

...her portrayal of life in the south during Jim Crow...makes for painful reading. We all owe a debt to these brave people...

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Spectrum Culture

Above average
on Aug 05 2011

Some of the sections that expand on the general history of the movement feel out of place and sometimes repetitive.

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AARP

Excellent
on Feb 17 2011

...Wilkerson has accomplished a storytelling feat in the classical tradition of The Odyssey...

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Chicago Tribune

Excellent
on Sep 09 2010

...what makes the book compelling is the remarkable intimacy of the stories she tells; her ability to recreate, in wonderfully lyrical prose, the private struggles...in a system designed to denigrate them.

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Reader Rating for The Warmth of Other Suns
91%

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