The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration (MP3 CD)
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Summer 2012 Reading Group
“The massive migration of black people out of the South during the 20th century is a subject that has never been truly examined in popular history. That oversight has been rectified in this magisterial work. Concentrating on three individuals, Wilkerson puts a human face on a movement that transformed American society on every level and brought the depths and heights of tragedy and triumph to those who had the courage to escape the oppression of Jim Crow.”
— Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI
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 interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to previously untapped 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 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 state 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 medicine, becoming the personal physician to Ray Charles as part of a glitteringly successful career that allowed him to purchase a grand home where he often threw exuberant parties. Wilkerson brilliantly captures her subjects 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 their new 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 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.