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The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration Paperback – 4 October 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 11,753 ratings

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Review

“A landmark piece of nonfiction . . . sure to hold many surprises for readers of any race or experience….A mesmerizing book that warrants comparison to The Promised Land, Nicholas Lemann’s study of the Great Migration’s early phase, and Common Ground, J. Anthony Lukas’s great, close-range look at racial strife in Boston….[Wilkerson’s] closeness with, and profound affection for, her subjects reflect her deep immersion in their stories and allow the reader to share that connection.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
 
The Warmth of Other Suns is a brilliant and stirring epic, the first book to cover the full half-century of the Great Migration… Wilkerson combines impressive research…with great narrative and literary power. Ms. Wilkerson does for the Great Migration what John Steinbeck did for the Okies in his fiction masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath; she humanizes history, giving it emotional and psychological depth.”—John Stauffer, Wall Street Journal

“[A] massive and masterly account of the Great Migration….A narrative epic rigorous enough to impress all but the crankiest of scholars, yet so immensely readable as to land the author a future place on Oprah’s couch.”   —David Oshinsky, The New York Times Book Review (Cover Review)
 
“[A] deeply affecting, finely crafted and heroic book. . . .Wilkerson has taken on one of the most important demographic upheavals of the past century—a phenomenon whose dimensions and significance have eluded many a scholar—and told it through the lives of three people no one has ever heard of….This is narrative nonfiction, lyrical and tragic and fatalist. The story exposes; the story moves; the story ends. What Wilkerson urges, finally, isn’t argument at all; it’s compassion. Hush, and listen.”  —Jill Lepore, The New Yorker

"The Warmth of Other Suns is epic in its reach and in its structure. Told in a voice that echoes the magic cadences of Toni Morrison or the folk wisdom of Zora Neale Hurston’s collected oral histories, 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."—Lynell George, Los Angeles Times 

“One of the most lyrical and important books of the season."—David Shribman, Boston Globe

“[An] extraordinary and evocative work.”—The Washington Post

“Mesmerizing. . .”—Chicago Tribune

“Scholarly but very readable, this book, for all its rigor, is so absorbing, it should come with a caveat: Pick it up only when you can lose yourself entirely.”  —O, The Oprah Magazine
 
"[An] indelible and compulsively readable portrait of race, class, and politics in 20th-century America. History is rarely distilled so finely.” Grade: A —Entertainment Weekly

“An astonishing work. . . . Isabel Wilkerson delivers! . . . With the precision of a surgeon, Wilkerson illuminates the stories of bold, faceless African-Americans who transformed cities and industries with their hard work and determination to provide their children with better lives.” —Essence

“Isabel Wilkerson’s majestic The Warmth of Other Suns shows that not everyone bloomed, but the migrants—Wilkerson prefers to think of them as domestic immigrants—remade the entire country, North and South. It’s a monumental job of writing and reporting that lives up to its subtitle: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.” —USA Today
 
“[A] sweeping history of the Great Migration. . . . The Warmth of Other Suns builds upon such purely academic works to make the migrant experience both accessible and emotionally compelling.” —NPR.org
 
The Warmth of Other Suns is a beautifully written, in-depth analysis of what Wilkerson calls “one of the most underreported stories of the 20th century. . .  A masterpiece that sheds light on a significant development in our nation’s history.” —The San Jose Mercury News

The Warmth of Other Suns is a beautifully written book that, once begun, is nearly impossible to put aside. It is an unforgettable combination of tragedy and inspiration, and gripping subject matter and characters in a writing style that grabs the reader on Page 1 and never let’s go. . . . Woven into the tapestry of [three individuals] lives, in prose that is sweet to savor, Wilkerson tells the larger story, the general situation of life in the South for blacks. . . . If you read one only one book about history this year, read this. If you read only one book about African Americans this year, read this. If you read only one book this year, read this.” —The Free Lance Star, Fredericksburg, Va.

"A truly auspicious debut. . . . The author deftly intersperses [her characters'] stories with short vignettes about other individuals and consistently provides the bigger picture without interrupting the flow of the narrative…Wilkerson’s focus on the personal aspect lends her book a markedly different, more accessible tone. Her powerful storytelling style, as well, gives this decades-spanning history a welcome novelistic flavor. An impressive take on the Great Migration."  —Kirkus, Starred Review

“[A] magnificent, extensively researched study of the great migration… 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.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Not since Alex Haley’s Roots has there been a history of equal literary quality where the writing surmounts the rhythmic soul of fiction, where the writer’s voice sings a song of redemptive glory as true as Faulkner’s southern cantatas.”—The San Francisco Examiner

“Profound, necessary and an absolute delight to read.” —Toni Morrison
 
The Warmth of Other Suns is a sweeping and yet deeply personal tale of America’s hidden 20th century history - the long and difficult trek of Southern blacks to the northern and western cities. This is an epic for all Americans who want to understand the making of our modern nation.” —Tom Brokaw
 
“A seminal work of narrative nonfiction. . . . You will never forget these people.” —Gay Talese

“With compelling prose and considered analysis, Isabel Wilkerson has given us a landmark portrait of one of the most significant yet little-noted shifts in American history: the migration of African-Americans from the Jim Crow South to the cities of the North and West.  It is a complicated tale, with an infinity of implications for questions of race, power, politics, religion, and class—implications that are unfolding even now.  This book will be long remembered, and savored.” —Jon Meacham
 
“Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns is an American masterpiece, a stupendous literary success that channels the social sciences as iconic biography in order to tell a vast story of a people's reinvention of itself and of a nation—the first complete history of the Great Black Migration from start to finish, north, east, west.” —David Levering Lewis

“Isabel Wilkerson’s book is a masterful narrative of the rich wisdom and deep courage of a great people.  Don’t miss it!” —Cornel West

About the Author

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.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Vintage; Reprint edition (4 October 2011)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 640 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0679763880
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0679763888
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 850 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.49 x 4.06 x 23.37 cm
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 11,753 ratings

About the author

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Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, is the author the critically acclaimed New York Times bestsellers The Warmth of Other Suns, and Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.

Her first book, The Warmth of Other Suns, tells the story of the Great Migration, a watershed in American history. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Award for Nonfiction, the Lynton History Prize from Harvard and Columbia universities, the Stephen Ambrose Oral History Prize and was shortlisted for both the Pen-Galbraith Literary Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

WARMTH was named to more than 30 Best of the Year lists, including The New York Times' 10 Best Books of the Year, Amazon's 5 Best Books of the Year and Best of the Year lists in The New Yorker, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and The Economist, among others. In 2019, TIME Magazine named Warmth to its list of the10 best books of the decade.

Her second book, CASTE: The Origins of Our Discontents, explores the unrecognized hierarchy in America, its history and its consequences. Caste became a No. 1 New York Times bestseller, was the 2020 summer/fall selection for Oprah’s Book Club and was longlisted for the National Book Award. It was named to more best of the year lists than any other work of nonfiction and was named the No. 1 book of 2020 across all genres by the industry arbiter, Publishers Marketplace.

Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times in 1994, making her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer and the first African-American to win for individual reporting. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded her the National Humanities Medal for "championing the stories of an unsung history."

She has appeared on national programs such as "Fresh Air with Terry Gross," CBS's "60 Minutes," NBC's "Nightly News," "The PBS News Hour," MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell," “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” NPR's "On Being with Krista Tippett," the BBC and others. She has taught at Princeton, Emory and Boston universities and has lectured at more than 200 other colleges and universities across the U.S. and in Europe and Asia.

Follow @isabelwilkerson on Instagram and Twitter. Follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/IsabelWilkersonWriter/

Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5
11,753 global ratings

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Carolyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful interweaving of personal stories and historical facts
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Jess
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this
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Joan Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars History most of US citizens don't know
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 April 2020
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catherine kidd
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 February 2015
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Clem
5.0 out of 5 stars History can be ugly
Reviewed in the United States on 11 August 2019
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