The Warmth of Other Suns

  • by Isabel Wilkerson
  • Narrated by Robin Miles, Ken Burns (introduction)
  • 22 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

National Book Critics Circle Award, Nonfiction, 2011
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.

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What the Critics Say

"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)
"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)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Enjoyed every single minute

So powerful, so moving, so life affirming
Outstanding narrator brought everyone to life - -
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- williams

A story that should be universally known

If you could sum up The Warmth of Other Suns in three words, what would they be?

Erudite Revealing Captivating


What did you like best about this story?

I have been aware of the Great Migration for a few years but found it difficult to get any details. This book not only gives those details but does it in a way that brings this time and the motivations behind it to life


Have you listened to any of Robin Miles and Ken Burns (introduction) ’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No


If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The Great Migration, 70 years of black people's search for freedom within USA


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- Dr. E. Draper

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-03-2011
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio