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The Warmth of Other Suns summary

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

4.4 (99 ratings)
26 mins

Brief summary

The Warmth Of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson tells the story of the Great Migration, a period when millions of African Americans moved from the South to the North.
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    The Warmth of Other Suns
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    The Great Migration had many causes, origins, and destinations.

    If you’re Black American, chances are that the threads of the Great Migration are woven into the fabric of your family history. 

    From around 1915 to 1970, an estimated six million Black men and women left their homes in the American South to start a new life up North. Whether they embarked on the journey themselves or watched their relatives and friends leave, this movement affected nearly every Black American – and changed the face of the country. 

    The key message here is: The Great Migration had many causes, origins, and destinations.

    Though the Great Migration was the biggest and most significant inner-border mass migration in US history, it remains an understudied and often misrepresented phenomenon for a few reasons. The most tangible of these is the fact that it wasn’t a unified, single-purpose, organized movement. 

    Black Southerners who migrated to the Northern states didn’t consider themselves part of a movement. Ultimately, each of them had their own complex reason for leaving. They were tired of living as second-class citizens; scared of being lynched; fleeing personal problems; or lured by tales of money and freedom by job recruiters, friends, and relatives in the North.

    There was one dominant reason for Black people’s mass exodus from the South, though: Jim Crow laws. After slavery was formally abolished in 1865, Southern states came up with myriad ways to keep Black people from exercising their newly gained freedoms. 

    Dubbed “Jim Crow” after a minstrel show figure, these measures prohibited Black people from using the same facilities, shops, and services as white people. They reinforced the practice of sharecropping, which kept Black farmers indebted to white plantation owners, and they were used to justify the gruesome lynchings of Black people by white mobs.

    And so Black migrants from all over the South – from cotton plantations in Mississippi, tobacco farms in Virginia, and stifling cities across Alabama – escaped to the Northern metropolises like New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia in pursuit of a better future.

    Another key influence was war. During the First World War, the push out of the South was compounded by a pull into the North. The war had caused labor shortages in many Northern cities, which now started sending out recruiters to solicit cheap Black labor from the South. Once kicked off, the movement only gained momentum, peaking again during the Second World War. 

    In the following blinks, we’ll take a look at the real-life stories of three migrants from three different waves of the Great Migration: Ida Mae Brandon Gladley, George Swanson Starling, and Robert Joseph Pershing Foster. 

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    What is The Warmth of Other Suns about?

    The Warmth of Other Suns (2010) tells the story of the Great Migration – the biggest inner-border mass migration in US history. From 1915 to 1970, millions of Black Americans left the Jim Crow South in search of a better life in Northern cities. Focusing on the lives of three of those migrants, these blinks paint a vivid picture of the fears, hopes, and dreams that shaped the movement.

    The Warmth of Other Suns Review

    The Warmth Of Other Suns (2010) offers an in-depth exploration of the Great Migration. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides a comprehensive understanding of the factors that led to the largest internal migration in US history.
    • The book features captivating personal stories of individuals who made the journey, bringing history to life.
    • Its thorough research and historical context make it an essential read for understanding American history.

    Dive into The Warmth Of Other Suns and gain a new perspective on the Great Migration.

    Best quote from The Warmth of Other Suns

    They did not dream the American Dream, they willed it into being by a definition of their own choosing.

    —Isabel Wilkerson
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    Who should read The Warmth of Other Suns?

    • Curious minds who want to learn about an underexplored chapter of US history
    • Fans of biographical and eyewitness accounts of the past
    • Anyone interested in the social and demographic forces that shaped America

    About the Author

    Isabel Wilkerson is an award-winning American author and journalist. In 1994, she became the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. Her second and latest book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, was published in 2020.

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    The Warmth of Other Suns FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Warmth Of Other Suns?

    The main message of The Warmth Of Other Suns is the importance of understanding the Great Migration and its impact on American history.

    How long does it take to read The Warmth Of Other Suns?

    It takes approximately 22 hours to read The Warmth Of Other Suns. The Blinkist summary can be read in 19 minutes.

    Is The Warmth Of Other Suns a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Warmth Of Other Suns is a well-researched, engaging book that sheds light on a crucial period in American history.

    Who is the author of The Warmth Of Other Suns?

    The author of The Warmth Of Other Suns is Isabel Wilkerson.

    How many chapters are in The Warmth Of Other Suns?

    There are 30 chapters in The Warmth Of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, which are organized into three main parts: Part One: Beginnings, Part Two: Exodus, and Part Three: Aftermath. Each part contains several chapters detailing the experiences of the individuals featured in the book.

    How many pages are in The Warmth Of Other Suns?

    There are 640 pages in The Warmth Of Other Suns.

    When was The Warmth Of Other Suns published?

    The Warmth Of Other Suns was published in 2010.

    What to read after The Warmth of Other Suns?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Warmth of Other Suns, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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