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

Written by:
Isabel Wilkerson
Narrated by:
Robin Miles

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
March 2011
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.
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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.

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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.

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

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Chauna J.

A must read.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Everyone should read this book!

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ivie a

very enlighting history book to listen to. Put a great deal of enlightenment in my mind, as I grew up as,a white baby boomer in texas away from the black conflicts. would recommend this to anyone who Will just open their minds to history and people. make no judgements. listen and ponder the facts.

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Nadia R

Best book I have read on Black American history after emancipation.

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Bruce Green

This was an extraordinary book. Beautifully read, always engaging and informative. It's like three biographies woven together to create a picture of American history I was never taught. In the end it forced be to reject some of the history I had been taught. Further it's enabled me to be more critical and more empathic when confronted with social and political issues of peoples from other cultures moving about the world looking for a better life. And it was entertaining, made me laugh at times, brought me to the edge of my seat and allowed me to transcend my life and enter into another world. Thank you.

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Alberto O.

This was a great listen. I know I will never know what it’s like to be a black person, but listening to this book is the closest I will ever come to walking a mile in a black mans shoes. Thank you for the enlightenment.

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Annemarie K.

The way the individual stories are woven together, along with historical events, makes for an epic read. The narrator's tone and tempo perfectly represent the authors words.

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Gloria B.

One of the most important books I’ve ever read. I am thankful for the amount of research, time and devotion that Ms Wilkerson dedicated to this book and for relating to us so eloquently the experiences of 3 migrants, their families and our country at the time of the great migration.

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Daryl O.

This is a must read (listen) for anyone really wanting to understand our nation's history. It's not always easy to hear the shameful chronicles of racism, but confronting this history is nonetheless cathartic in a sense, and leads to a fresher, more honest view of our culture, which lays the groundwork for a more equitable and joyful future. Excellent journalism.

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My grandparents lived this experience in a unique way as they came from the Caribbean to the North. My parents in the 1980s came back South but both told us the stories of their lives. Listening to this book helped me understand them better and learn more about why they raised me as they did. Thank you Ms. Wilkerson and Ms. Miles.

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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.

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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.

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Jackie Vance

I thought this would be a more general topic of the migration across America, but turns out to be focused on the drama of one black family. Disappointed to say the least.

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