Between 1915 and 1970 almost six million blacks fled the south in search of better opportunity. Wilkerson focuses on three individuals in telling her story to give this overwhelming, huge exodus a human face. In 1937 Ida Mae Gladney’s cousin was almost beaten to death after being falsely accused of stealing a white man’s turkeys. Ida Mae left Mississippi heading north. In 1945 George Swanson Starling’s Florida employer was arranging a “neck tie” party. George headed to Harlem. In 1953 Robert Foster’s opportunities were limited in Louisiana, but in California he prospered becoming Ray Charles personal physician. Wilkerson weaves in the details of millions of people setting out to make better lives.
Isabel Wilkerson is the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. The Warmth of Other Suns was inspired by her parent’s migration.— Deon Stonehouse
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.
NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER
LYNTON HISTORY PRIZE WINNER
HEARTLAND AWARD WINNER
DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE FINALIST
NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New York Times - USA Today - O: The Oprah Magazine - Amazon - Publishers Weekly - Salon - Newsday - The Daily Beast
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New Yorker - The Washington Post - The Economist - Boston Globe - San Francisco Chronicle - Chicago Tribune - Entertainment Weekly - Philadelphia Inquirer - The Guardian - The Seattle Times - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - The Christian Science Monitor
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.