on 21 April 2015
Absolutely brilliant in my eyes. One of the first books that truly covers the migration period and the dreadful, terrible experiences African-Americans went through when migrating from South to North. In fact, the problems continued when they reached North and it was often VERY painful to read some of what the what happened to them. If you have any conscience you will ask yourself how can people be so evil and yet still sleep at night. All the stories are true accounts of real families who want to make a better life for themselves and yet facing obstacles from every angle. This is a heart breaking book with touches of hope and humility but a time in American history which was disgusting. In every society the underdog is humiliated and trodden on you question, time and time again, when is this going to stop. Migration today continues to be a massive problem however, the lengths people will go through to achieve at least some hope for themselves and their families is extraordinary and risking your life for a better future is a chance you take.
I beg everyone to read this book. Ms Wilkerson has done a really great job. It is also worth googling the people in the book and you will see their photos, their conditions and the stories told of the horrors they went through. One of the things that really played on my mind is the fact that all the characters in the book (African-Americans) were given names by their slave masters and this has been passed on through generation after generation, unlike the European immigrants who just shortened their names to make them more Americanized, ie Barbara Stanwick, Michael Douglas's father and many famous actors/lawyers, etc. Fascinating
This book tells the story of America's Great Migration, the one group of migrants that history has paid relatively little attention to: the movement of over four million black Americans from the South to the urban centres of the North from World War 1 to the mid 1960s, fleeing prejudice, lynching, Jim Crow laws and a white caste that was determined to keep blacks in a state little different to slavery.
It tells the story primarily through three individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, a sharecropper's daughter, who left Mississippi for Chicago in the 30s; George Starling, an fruit picker, who left Florida for New York in the 40s; and Robert Pershing Foster, a young doctor, who left Louisiana for Los Angeles in the 50s. All three were the descendants of slaves, and all three managed to make more of their lives than they could ever have done back home in the segregated South.
It is fascinating and touching and heartbreaking to read about their struggles, these real people, who fought against racism their whole lives, who escaped the South for the chance of a better life for themselves and their children, and who found that the North wasn't quite the promised land they believed it to be.
The writing is beautiful, and you really feel the care and affection Wilkerson feels for her subjects - as she much naturally have felt after spending so long with them and sharing so many intimate details of their lives. I feel like I know these people, their hopes and dreams and fears, and I was sorry to come to the end of the book and leave them behind.
on 22 July 2012
The migration of African Americans from the Southern States during the twentieth century represented the largest mass movement of people in the history of the US! The immigration of people into the US from Europe, Asia, Central and South America is well known, yet an estimated 6 million African Americans (and this figure may well be an underestimate) uprooted themselves and their families to find a better life outside the 'South'. This movement of people changed the very nature of the country in many ways and yet their story has largely been untold.
"The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson tells the tale of this epic migration, a moving and well written story where you experience the lives of people who were involved. I found this book difficult to put down and a pleasure to read.
Recommended reading which raised my awareness of a chapter of American history which not received the recognition it deserves.
on 16 August 2015
I absolutely loved this book. Isabel has a way of making the characters come alive so much that you feel you know them. I have a great interest in Afro American history but till now nothing has come close to this book. The depth of character and courage of each person is very moving and their real stories are woven next to each other and intertwined to give depth and keep the reader interested. Little is written regarding the migrants who moved North away from Jim Crows South and became an affluent and important part of Americas history. This book is a classic in my eyes. I can't wait for the film/series that this book deserves. I would also recommend reading 'Black Masters'a free family of colour in the old south.
on 16 May 2011
I was introduced to this book by Madison Foster, a nephew of one of the families you follow. My first reaction to reading "The Warmths of Other Suns" was, that I just wanted to hold his hand and say nothing for a very long time. I was shocked, ashamed, sorry, sad and yet very impressed. I am glad to have read this wonderful book, though. I'm happy to have learned so much more about the real conditions of the black Americans. And I'm proud to be a friend of a Foster from Monroe, Louisiana.
Jytte Mejnholt, Helsingør, Denmark.
on 2 April 2013
Very much an easy book to read. Brings to life the sheer indignity of being an African American in the recent past and helps to explains some of the dysfunctional nature of society in the USA. In need of a rigorous edit.
on 22 February 2011
Despite being 500 pages long, this book is hugely readable. Wilkerson tells the story of the great migration of black Americans from the deep South to northern cities. I was unaware of this crucial piece of American history and am grateful that Wilkerson has done such a great job. The book covers the lives of three individuals, who all grew up as the descendants of slaves and went onto success in their new lives. Wilkerson is a Pulitzer-prize winning author and has spent years researching this book. The quality of her writing is superb. I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in American and black history.
on 26 July 2013
The author has successfully woven the real lives of the protagonists into a readable & interesting work that illustrates American history in relation to the descendants of slaves
on 28 March 2013
extremely interesting and informative.thoroughly enjoyed it and should be told to remind people of what a short time ago that such terrible things were happening in america..
on 8 January 2011
This was one of the best Christmas gifts I received and a total surprise. Although it is 500 odd pages of history, and that's minus the methodology section, acknowledgements and notes, I read it in about a week. Very readable, I found it hard to put down (despite the pain of racism that runs through it) and was totally gripped by the experience of the 3 key African American characters, participants in the mass drive to escape from Jim Crow laws and oppression in 3 southern states in America from 1937. Although a black woman myself, with a parallel experience of immigration from the Caribbean to Britain in the 1960s, this book highlighted crucial sociological facts that I hadn't previously known and experiences with which I could identify.
My learning of the reason for the mass migration has been immense specifically in relation to the economic effect on the south, the racial tensions it caused in the north, the impact of disappointment on the migrants and their off-springs, their determination to succeed nevertheless rather than return 'home' and the contribution such migrants made to the development of America as we know it today.
My one criticism - the book was repetitious in parts, but this didn't make my experience of it anything less than a brilliant read. Well done Isabel Wilkerson.