This is an excerpt from the new edition of Choose Books: A Gift Guide for People Who Care About Stories. The 69-page guide is expanded, updated, and freely available to you.
Between 1915 and 1970, six million black Southerners moved north in search of a better life. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson is the sweeping tale of the Great Migration that reshaped the United States. The book won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle award, among a formidable host of other honors.
The Warmth of Other Suns is informed by 1,200 interviews, and contextual understanding for how America’s migration compares with history’s other great movements. She fixes the story into three lives. Ida Mae Gladney left Mississippi for Chicago in 1937 “where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois senate seat.” George Starling went from Florida to Harlem in 1945 “where he endangered his job fighting for civil rights, saw his family fall, and finally found peace in God.” Robert Foster left Louisiana in 1953 for California for a career in medicine. He wound up as the personal physician to Ray Charles.
Wilkerson is attentive to both the physical fact of migration (depleting cross-country car and train travel) and the arrival. She tells of how migration marked the rise of ghettos, and a Southern culture of food, faith, and values that transformed Northern cities. Wilkerson contends that it was the Great Migration that set the civil rights movement in motion. It also ignited a revolution in music – jazz, hip-hop, Motown, blues.
Toni Morrison calls this book “profound, necessary, and a delight to read.” Tom Brokaw: “an epic for all Americans who want to understand the making of our modern nation.” This is Wilkerson’s first book. It’s true.
- American history buffs
- People on the brink of a big move or life transition
- Readers who want their nonfiction smart, but readable: no academic jargon, please!
- Folks dug deep in cities influenced by the Great Migration: Chicago, Detroit, New York, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Newark, Los Angeles…
Vintage / Random House
The paperback edition was released in October. 640 pages include plenty of great photos. An audio edition is also available.