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The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Isabel Wilkerson

Narrated By: Robin Miles

Date: March 2011

Duration: 22 hours 0 minutes


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.


The New York Times • USA Today • O: The Oprah Magazine • Amazon • Publishers Weekly • Salon • Newsday • The Daily Beast

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.


  • Griffin C.

    This should be required reading for all schools. It defines the post war period very well. It shows that segregation didn’t just end. It was a long, drawn out, very violent process.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful.

  • Robert Tracy W

    This book provided a much needed background to the civil progress in the American experience. Bravo Isabel Wilkerson for job well done.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Teresa B.

    A brilliant book. Must read for every American. Read with convincing, compelling narration. Ms. Wilkerson provides chapters of history we should have studied but weren't taught in school nor in all the venues through which we have historically told our culture's story. Her book as an essential companion to now as what was once the Republican Party has become a cabal of America's misguided Marjorie Taylor Greens, Jim Crow, Trumped up lies and rage, in an escalating assault on democracy and decency.

  • Anonymous

    Fascinating life stories illuminate the foundations of modern America. I was stunned by how little I knew about the Great Migration.

  • Susan W.

    I am 71 years old and this is one of the mostly interesting and profound books I have read. This should be mandatory reading for all public schools. It’s much better than most of the books they made me read in school. Seriously, read this book and you will understand first hand how post civil war America developed into what it is today.

  • Renee R.

    This historical book reads like a novel! As a 55 year old black women I never read or have been told about the great migration. There were parts of this book that were hard to read. The evil that a group of humans can inflict on another group of humans is hard to take in. However, there were many parts of this book that made me laugh and smile. I am better for having read it.

  • Anonymous

    Everyone should read this book!

  • Kay S.

    Very descriptive and well written book. I am impressed with the extensive research that had to be done - and with the insights gained by traveling with these individual families through the many challenges of their lives. Very well written.

  • Danielle D.

    This book was phenomenal! Taking us into the lives of actual people who came up through the migration was brilliant! It was not a stuffy history lesson. If history was taught like this in school I would've loved it. I loved the personal, first hand stories of the actual people but I also loved the backdrop of historical events and historical climate of the times these events happened. I learned so many things that I never knew about my own people. It inspired me to learn more about my own family. They never talked about their migration and now I see why. They didn't just leave places and family behind - they left trauma behind as well. This book helped me get a window into my own family member's lives. It has helped me to develop a deeper respect for members of my family and community.

  • Lisa H

    Brilliantly written! So vivid and descriptive. l found my story within the lives of these individuals. As a child born as a result of two families migrating from Texas and Louisiana, I found the historical accounts so accurate. I came to understand the struggles they encountered and gained deep respect for my foreparents who did the best they could to give me the advantages I enjoy. I appreciate the many hours it took to seamlessly tell these stories. I so enjoyed this book and enjoyed the narrator!

Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

by Isabel Wilkerson

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Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, Isabel Wilkerson
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