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The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
 
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The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration [Format Kindle]

Isabel Wilkerson
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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

Part One
 
In the Land of the Forefathers
 
Our mattresses were made
of corn shucks
and soft gray Spanish moss
that hung from the trees. . . .
From the swamps
we got soup turtles
and baby alligators
and from the woods
we got raccoon,
rabbit and possum.
 
—Mahalia Jackson, Movin’ On Up



Leaving
 
This land is first and foremost
his handiwork.
It was he who brought order
out of primeval wilderness . . .
Wherever one looks in this land,
whatever one sees that is the work of man,
was erected by the toiling
straining bodies of blacks.
 
—David L. Cohn, God Shakes Creation
 
 
They fly from the land that bore them.
 
—W. H. Stillwell
 
 
 
1
 
Chickasaw County, Mississippi, Late October 1937
 
Ida Mae Brandon Gladney
 
 
The night clouds were closing in on the salt licks east of the oxbow lakes along the folds in the earth beyond the Yalobusha River. The cotton was at last cleared from the field. Ida Mae tried now to get the children ready and to gather the clothes and quilts and somehow keep her mind off the churning within her. She had sold off the turkeys and doled out in secret the old stools, the wash pots, the tin tub, the bed pallets. Her husband was settling with Mr. Edd over the worth of a year’s labor, and she did not know what would come of it. None of them had been on a train before—not unless you counted the clattering local from Bacon Switch to Okolona, where, “by the time you sit down, you there,” as Ida Mae put it. None of them had been out of Mississippi. Or Chickasaw County, for that matter.
 
There was no explaining to little James and Velma the stuffed bags and chaos and all that was at stake or why they had to put on their shoes and not cry and bring undue attention from anyone who might happen to see them leaving. Things had to look normal, like any other time they might ride into town, which was rare enough to begin with.
 
Velma was six. She sat with her ankles crossed and three braids in her hair and did what she was told. James was too little to understand. He was three. He was upset at the commotion. Hold still now, James. Lemme put your shoes on, Ida Mae told him. James wriggled and kicked. He did not like shoes. He ran free in the field. What were these things? He did not like them on his feet. So Ida Mae let him go barefoot.
 
Miss Theenie stood watching. One by one, her children had left her and gone up north. Sam and Cleve to Ohio. Josie to Syracuse. Irene to Milwaukee. Now the man Miss Theenie had tried to keep Ida Mae from marrying in the first place was taking her away, too. Miss Theenie had no choice but to accept it and let Ida Mae and the grandchildren go for good. Miss Theenie drew them close to her, as she always did whenever anyone was leaving. She had them bow their heads. She whispered a prayer that her daughter and her daughter’s family be protected on the long journey ahead in the Jim Crow car.
 
“May the Lord be the first in the car,” she prayed, “and the last out.”
 
When the time had come, Ida Mae and little James and Velma and all that they could carry were loaded into a brother-in-law’s truck, and the three of them went to meet Ida Mae’s husband at the train depot in Okolona for the night ride out of the bottomland.
 
 
2
 
Wildwood, Florida, April 14, 1945
 
George Swanson Starling
 
 
A man named Roscoe Colton gave Lil George Starling a ride in his pickup truck to the train station in Wildwood through the fruit-bearing scrubland of central Florida. And Schoolboy, as the toothless orange pickers mockingly called him, boarded the Silver Meteor pointing north.
 
A railing divided the stairs onto the train, one side of the railing for white passengers, the other for colored, so the soles of their shoes would not touch the same stair. He boarded on the colored side of the railing, a final reminder from the place of his birth of the absurdity of the world he was leaving.
 
He was getting out alive. So he didn’t let it bother him. “I got on the car where they told me to get on,” he said years later.
 
He hadn’t had time to bid farewell to everyone he wanted to. He stopped to say good-bye to Rachel Jackson, who owned a little café up on what they called the Avenue and the few others he could safely get to in the little time he had. He figured everybody in Egypt town, the colored section of Eustis, probably knew he was leaving before he had climbed onto the train, small as the town was and as much as people talked.
 
It was a clear afternoon in the middle of April. He folded his tall frame into the hard surface of the seat, his knees knocking against the seat back in front of him. He was packed into the Jim Crow car, where the railroad stored the luggage, when the train pulled away at last. He was on the run, and he wouldn’t rest easy until he was out of range of Lake County, beyond the reach of the grove owners whose invisible laws he had broken.
 
The train rumbled past the forest of citrus trees that he had climbed since he was a boy and that he had tried to wrestle some dignity out of and, for a time, had. They could have their trees. He wasn’t going to lose his life over them. He had come close enough as it was.
 
He had lived up to his family’s accidental surname. Starling. Distant cousin to the mockingbird. He had spoken up about what he had seen in the world he was born into, like the starling that sang Mozart’s own music back to him or the starling out of Shakespeare that tormented the king by speaking the name of Mortimer. Only, George was paying the price for tormenting the ruling class that owned the citrus groves. There was no place in the Jim Crow South for a colored starling like him.
 
He didn’t know what he would do once he got to New York or what his life would be. He didn’t know how long it would take before he could send for Inez. His wife was mad right now, but she’d get over it once he got her there. At least that’s what he told himself. He turned his face to the North and sat with his back to Florida.
 
Leaving as he did, he figured he would never set foot in Eustis again for as long as he lived. And as he settled in for the twenty-three-hour train ride up the coast of the Atlantic, he had no desire to have anything to do with the town he grew up in, the state of Florida, or the South as a whole, for that matter.
 
 
3
 
Monroe, Louisiana, Easter Monday, April 6, 1953
 
Robert Joseph Pershing Foster
 
 
In the dark hours of the morning, Pershing Foster packed his surgery books, his medical bag, and his suit and sport coats in the trunk, along with a map, an address book, and Ivorye Covington’s fried chicken left over from Saturday night.
 
He said good-bye to his father, who had told him to follow his dreams. His father’s dreams had fallen apart, but there was still hope for the son, the father knew. He had a reluctant embrace with his older brother, Madison, who had tried in vain to get him to stay. Then Per- shing pointed his 1949 Buick Roadmaster, a burgundy one with whitewall tires and a shark-tooth grille, in the direction of Five Points, the crossroads of town.
 
He drove down the narrow dirt roads with the ditches on either side that, when he was a boy, had left his freshly pressed Sunday suit caked with mud when it rained. He passed the shotgun houses perched on cinder blocks and hurtled over the railroad tracks away from where people who looked like him were consigned to live and into the section where the roads were not dirt ditches anymore but suddenly level and paved.
 
He headed in the direction of Desiard Street, the main thorough- fare, and, without a whiff of sentimentality, sped away from the small-town bank buildings and bail bondsmen, the Paramount Theater with its urine-scented steps, and away from St. Francis Hospital, which wouldn’t let doctors who looked like him perform a simple tonsillectomy.
 
Perhaps he might have stayed had they let him practice surgery like he was trained to do or let him walk into the Palace and try on a suit like anyone else of his station. The resentments had grown heavy over the years. He knew he was as smart as anybody else—smarter, to his mind—but he wasn’t allowed to do anything with it, the caste system being what it was. Now he was going about as far away as you could get from Monroe, Louisiana. The rope lines that had hemmed in his life seemed to loosen with each plodding mile on the odometer.
 
Like many of the men in the Great Migration and like many emigrant men in general, he was setting out alone. He would scout out the New World on his own and get situated before sending for anyone else. He drove west into the morning stillness and onto the Endom Bridge, a tight crossing with one lane acting like two that spans the Ouachita River into West Monroe. He would soon pass the mossback flatland of central Louisiana and the Red River toward Texas, where he was planning to see an old friend from medical school, a Dr. Anthony Beale, en route to California.
 
Pershing had no idea where he would end up in California or how he would make a go of it or when he would be able to wrest his wife and daughters from the in-laws who had tried to talk him out of going to California in the first place. He would contemplate these uncert...

Revue de presse

“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

Détails sur le produit


En savoir plus sur l'auteur

Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson is author of The Warmth of Other Suns, the New York Times bestseller that tells the universal story of three people who made the decision of their lives during the Great Migration, a watershed in American history. The book won the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the 2011 Lynton History Prize from Harvard and Columbia universities, the 2012 Stephen Ambrose Oral History Prize, among others, and was shortlisted for the Pen-Galbraith Literary Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

The book 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 Economist, The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, The San Francisco Examiner, Newsday, Salon, The Daily Beast, The Christian Science Monitor, O Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Entertainment Weekly and more than a dozen others. It made news around the world when President Barack Obama took WARMTH to read on vacation late summer 2011.

From The Wall Street Journal: "The Warmth of Other Suns is a brilliant and stirring epic. 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."

From The Los Angeles Times: "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."

From the judges of the Lynton History Prize, conferred by Harvard and Columbia universities:
"Wilkerson has created a brilliant and innovative paradox: the intimate epic. At its smallest scale, this towering work rests on a trio of unforgettable biographies, lives as humble as they were heroic... In different decades and for different reasons they headed north and west, along with millions of fellow travelers. . . In powerful, lyrical prose that combines the historian's rigor with the novelist's empathy, Wilkerson's book changes our understanding of the Great Migration and indeed of the modern United States."

As told in WARMTH, the Great Migration in the United States was one of the biggest underrecognized stories of the 20th Century and a cautionary tale that breathes life into migration movements across the world, throughout history and into current-day upheavals in countries facing influxes of migration today. The Great Migration in America lasted from 1915 to 1970, involved six million people and was one of the largest internal migrations in U.S. history. It brought us John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Toni Morrison, August Wilson, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Motown, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Denzel Washington, Michelle Obama -- all children or grandchildren of the Great Migration. It changed the cultural and political landscape of the United States, exerting pressure on the South to change and paving the way for the Civil Rights Movement.

Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for her work at The New York Times in 1994, making her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize. She has lectured on narrative writing at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University and taught at Princeton University, Emory University and Boston University. In her 15 years of working on the book, Wilkerson raced against the clock to reach as many original migrants as she could before it was too late. The result is the intimate, yet sweeping human story of people following their hearts to escape a brutal caste system in the American South and to find freedom within the borders of their own country.

Follow Isabel Wilkerson on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Isabel-Wilkerson/140162739346559 or on the web at www.isabelwilkerson.com



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0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A OK 14 octobre 2013
Par aimée m
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
The book that I ordered has arrived in time, in fact early, in perfect condition, I would order from this vendor again.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 étoiles sur 5  1.062 commentaires
558 internautes sur 572 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Deep, richly rewarding, heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. 7 septembre 2010
Par Wulfstan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Isabel Wilkerson, the Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper writer, has now come back to write a fascinating and sweeping book on what she calls ""the biggest underreported story of the twentieth century."

This is the story... no- make that the stories... of the "Great Migration", the migration of sharecroppers and others from the Cotton Belt to the Big Cities: New York, Chicago, Detroit, LA and etc in the period between the World Wars. Over one million blacks left the South and went North (or West). Of course we all know the tale of the "Dust Bowl" and the "Okies", as captured by Steinbeck in words, by Dorothea Lange in photographs, and even in song by Woody Guthrie. But this was as big or even bigger (estimates vary), and to this day the story has not been covered anywhere near as well as the "Dust Bowl" migrations.

Wilkerson's book has more than ten years of research in its making, and thus is a large and weighty volume at more than 600 pages. It is also personally researched, the author having interviewed over 1,200 people. She picked three dozen of those to interview in great depth, and choose but three of those stories to present to you here.

The title of this book is taken from Richard Wright's "Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth": "I was taking a part of the South to transplant in alien soil, to see if it could grow differently, if it could drink of new and cool rains, bend in strange winds, respond to the warmth of other suns, and, perhaps, to bloom."

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Boy-Record-Childhood-Youth/dp/0060834005

This book is a not an easy summer read, mind you. At times both heartwarming and heartbreaking, at times so riveting you won't be able to put it down- but at other times so moving that you'll need to put it down for a while.

The author peppers her book with interesting side notes and anecdotes, such as when some of the migrants, being unfamiliar with a Northern accent, would mistakenly get off at the cry of "Penn Station, Newark," the stop just before Penn Station, New York. Many decided to stay there,according to Isabel , giving Newark "a good portion of its black population."

A personal note: My Dad got his Masters on the GI Bill, then took us to Los Angeles to be a teacher. He was partnered with a more experienced teacher- a lady we called "Miz Edna" who had migrated to LA from the South. Our families became friends, as also "Miz Edna's" husband had served in New Guinea with my father (as a cook, however, remember the WWII Army was still segregated) . I remember many of her stories, and especially her rich melodic voice, with just enough of the South remaining. Thus, I "heard" many of the quotations and personal stories here in "Miz Edna's" voice.

This is a deep and great book, I highly recommend it.

Further reading:

Arnesen, Eric. Black Protest and the Great Migration: A Brief History with Documents

Grossman, James R. Land of Hope: Chicago, Black Southerners, and the Great Migration

Lemann, Nicholas. The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America
256 internautes sur 262 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Rich and Powerful Book 20 septembre 2010
Par Bookreporter - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Between World War I and the presidency of Richard Nixon, some six million black Americans fled the indignities and oppression they grew up with in the American south and headed north or west in search of freedom. Some found at least a modicum of it. Some did not. This mass migration --- unplanned, haphazard and often resented --- has affected our laws, our politics and our social relations in all kinds of ways. Some for the better, some not.

Isabel Wilkerson did a mountain of research to tell this story. She conducted some 1,200 interviews and digested a huge volume of sociological data. Wisely, she concentrated her book on just three of those six million people --- a gutsy woman from the cotton plantations of Mississippi, an orange picker from central Florida and an aspiring doctor from Louisiana. Each of them left the south in a different decade and with different motivations. They met with varying degrees of success and disappointment. While they didn't achieve everything they had hoped for, none of them in their final assessment regretted their move.

Wilkerson plays off these three protagonists against a vast chorus of others whose stories vary wildly but all come down to the determination to leave behind intolerable social oppression and at least try their luck in freer air. Wilkerson herself, a child of two black immigrants from Georgia, is a part of that chorus. Her book is valuable on several levels. It documents in gut-wrenching detail the brutal way these migrants were treated in the region of their birth. It is honest about their own personal failings and the not-always beneficial effect that northern life had on them. It challenges the popular assumption that they themselves caused the problems that have made their life up north so difficult. It documents a different idea --- that much of the problem stems from their children, born in the north and unmindful of what their parents had to suffer to give them a shot at a better life.

The book is gracefully written. Its level of personal detail gives readers the impression that its subjects had total recall as they spoke into Wilkerson's tape recorder. She has also elected to preserve the unique syntax and tone of black speech, without cleaning things up to make her subjects all sound like upper-class college graduates, though some of them are.

Some passages are riveting in their eloquence --- the automobile journey of Robert P. Foster from his native Louisiana to Los Angeles in the early 1950s, a hellish series of efforts to find unsegregated lodgings before he fell asleep at the wheel; the horrifying descriptions of lynch mobs on the rampage; the life of railroad porter George Starling serving white passengers while himself unable to escape discriminatory practices and threats against his person; the far-reaching Jim Crow laws in the south that prevented blacks from patronizing public libraries and decreed that, even after desegregation was the law of the land, they had to wait for service in stores until all the whites present had been taken care of. (In Birmingham, Alabama, for many years it was against the law for blacks and whites to play checkers together).

Wilkerson devotes major attention to the racial history of Chicago, where immigrant Ida Mae Gladney of Mississippi ended up. This may be simply because the volume of statistical and sociological data on the racial divide there is so enormous, and also because that divide persists to this day in many ways. George Starling made a decent life for himself in Harlem, but watched helplessly as one of his children slid into drugs and criminal activity.

But perhaps the most vivid story of all is that of Robert Foster, a medical school graduate and prominent Los Angeles surgeon. He achieved greater success than either of the other two major figures, but it only aroused in him a need to "prove himself" by buying an ostentatious home, spending lavishly in fine clothes and elaborate parties, and developing a gambling mania. Of Wilkerson's trio, he is the most arresting character --- a man who made it big but felt he always had to go higher up the success ladder. Wilkerson is candid about his character flaws. She seems to pity him rather than simply wax critical.

THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS is a rich and powerful book. It tells a story that for many people still needs to be told.

--- Reviewed by Robert Finn
193 internautes sur 204 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "Epic" is right 21 septembre 2010
Par Usonian33 - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
There is a page in the book where Wilkerson recounts what a single day of picking cotton in the old South entailed...it's a pretty remarkable mini essay in its own right, and you probably won't forget it. The whole book is like this, with one powerful anecdote after another, woven together with great skill. I've always been fascinated with the Jim Crow era in America, and eyewitness stories of those who lived through it...though this book only follows 3 people out of the millions who endured it, it captures America in the 2oth Century as well as just about social history I've ever read.

As a gay man, I often look to these books to be inspired by how black Americans "soldiered on" and showed such unbreakable spirit during these years. No, I personally never experienced even 1/10th of their struggle, but it still empowers me to face prejudice and avoid a lazy victimhood mentality. I am incredibly grateful for books like this, as should anyone who faces prejudice or discrimination by a majority.

Clearly a book of this scope took years to complete, and I'm rooting for this to win this year's National Book Award. I suggest you set aside a whole weekend like I did and savor every page of it.
131 internautes sur 144 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 An under reported epic 8 septembre 2010
Par James W. Durney - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
100 years ago, the majority of "colored people" lived in the rural South. Outside of the South, most major cities had a small Black population but large areas had little to no Black population. Most of the West and much of the rural Mid-West were White. A Black person was an oddity and many small children had never seen a Black person.
In 60 years, most major American cities had a large Black population. Black America is largely defined as an urban people, who spread over America. This change, from the slower pace of the rural South to the rapid pace of Northern and Western cities is one of the great stories of the 20th Century and one that few wish to tell.
This book looks at that migration as both a personal experience and as history. The author emphasizes personal experience. This migration is documented through the experiences of three participants. If you are looking for a conventional history, you will not be happy with this book. If you are looking for a very well written book chronicling Black life from the 1920s to the 1970s, this is an excellent book.
While not a fun read, it is an easy book to read and can be enjoyable. This is a story of people looking for a better life and the adjustments forced on them. Some of the adjustments are painful others are very satisfying to them. The author captures the times and the people, their joys and sorrows.
56 internautes sur 60 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 America's Great Migration 25 septembre 2010
Par Robin Friedman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
An estimated six million African Americans left the South between 1916 -- 1970 to seek a better life in the North. Historians have called this event the "Great Migration", and recognized it as a seminal movement in Twentieth Century American history. The Great Migration began during WW I as Northern industries needed a source of inexpensive labor to meet the growing economy as many workers were called into military service. It continued until the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s took hold in the South and brought an end to Jim Crow. Although aspects of the Great Migration have been covered in academic histories and in African American novels and poetry, this new sweeping book, "The Warmth of Other Suns", brought the Great Migration to life for me in a way I will be unlikely to forget. It will do so as well for many others readers. Wilkerson is herself a daughter of the Great Migration. She received a Pulitzer Prize in journalism in 1994 as well as a Guggnheim Fellowship and many other honors. She is currently Professor of Journalism and Director of Narrative Nonfiction at Boston University. The title of the book is taken from Richard Wright in a quotation, one of many, that appears on the fronticepiece:

"I was leaving the South
To fling myself into the unknown...
I was taking a part of the South
To transplant in alien soil,
To see if it could grow differently,
If it could drink of new and cool rains,
Bend in strange winds,
Respond to the warmth of other suns
And, perhaps, to bloom."

Based on more that 1200 interviews with participant in the Great Migration, Wilkerson's book is much more an oral history and a work of literature than it is an academic study. Some earlier studies of the Great Migration have focused on the years of WWI and its immediate aftermath, but Wilkerson studies the 1930s,40s and 50s. She explores in detail the lives of three people who migrated during these decades. The first migrant, Ida Mae Brandon, was a sharecropper in eastern Missippi. At the age of 16 she married George Gladney who worked on a plantation owned by a man known as Mr. Edd. When men in the neighborhood beat and nearly killed a man based on the false accusation that he had stolen Mr. Edd's turkeys, the Gladneys knew they had to leave. They took a train to Milwaukee and soon thereafter moved to Chicago where Ida Mae lived from the 1930s to her death in the 1990s. Of her various subjects, Wilkerson seems fondest of Ida Mae and tells the story of her life in Mississippi followed by her life in Chicago against the changing backdrop of American history and African American life.

Robert Joseph Pershing Foster grew up in the small town of Monroe, Louisiana where his parents taught at the segregated Jim Crow School. Ambitious, agressive, and intelligent, Foster studied at Atlanta University where he married Alice Clement, the daughter of the famous president of the University, Rufus Clement, who had fired W.E.B. DuBois. Foster became a physician and a surgeon and his ambitions were far broader than his opportunities in the Jim Crow South. After a period as a surgeon in the Army, Foster left the South on a long nightmarish drive to California in the 1950s and settled in Los Angeles. He worked himself up to a highly successful medical practice, centering upon other migrants. Foster became Ray Charles's doctor, and Charles wrote and recorded a song about him. Almost as fond of the casino and racetrack as of medicine, Foster lived lavishly and threw extraordinary parties to demonstrate how far he had come from life in the South. While admiring his drive, intellect, and success, Wilkerson is uncomfortable with the way in which Foster abandoned his roots and with his life-long insecurities not far below the surface of his material success.

The third protagonist, George Swanston Starling, lived in central Florida near the town of Eustis. Intelligent and ambitious, Starling completed two years of college. When his father could not afford further education, Starling married a young woman, Inez, on the spur of the moment and probably out of spite. The marriage proved unhappy but it endured. Starling took a number of lowpaying and difficult jobs picking fruit. He was forced to flee for his life when he tried to organize the workers and learned that the bosses were likely plotting his death. He and Inez took a train to Harlem in the late 1940 where the unfortunate marriage endured until Inez' death after 44 years. Starling worked as a porter on the railroads where he witnessed and subtly assisted many other African Americans leaving the South in purusit of a better, freer life.

Wilkerson juxtaposes the stories on these three people, who never met one another, throughout the book as they left the South and faced the America of the North, Midwest, and West. Their stories are told with flair and passion. I felt I knew Brandon, Foster, and Starling, and could share their hopes and sorrows. Much of the writing is stunning, including the long claustrophobic chapters recounting Foster's lonely drive from Louisiana to Texas and the endless instances of discrimination and rebuff he faced along the way.

Wilkerson tells the stories of her protagonists while also giving the story of the era. She describes the lynchings, discrimination, and many indignities of black life in the South which prompted her characters to leave. She also describes the more subtle discrimination in the rest of the United States. While her protagonists were able to vote, earn money, and succeed to an extent that would have been unlikely in the Jim Crow South, their lives were not easy and the transitions were severe. Her chapters describing her protagonists are interspersed with broader chapters and passages describing American life in the South and in the places in the United States in which the migrants resettled.

Wilkerson takes issue with some prior treatments of the Great Migration. She argues that in the main the migrants constituted the more intelligent and ambitious portion of the South's African American population. She maintains that their birthrates were lover and educational levels higher than African Americans who lived outside of the South, that their families tended to be more stable, and that they were less likely to be on welfare. She emphasizes individual initiative and drive, the dehumanization of Jim Crow, rather than economic factors, such as the development of mechanized cotton picking, as the primary reasons for African American migration from the South.

Wilkerson's book of about 650 pages is written with lyricism and love more than with the dispassion of the historian. It captures a people and an era. This is a wonderfully human and insightful book about a part of American history that remains too little known.

Robin Friedman
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