In this 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.
In her first book, “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” (Vintage, $16.95), Wilkerson compares this epic movement 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 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.
Wilkerson won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for her reporting as Chicago bureau chief of The New York Times. The award made her the first Black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African American to win for individual reporting. She won the George Polk Award for her coverage of the Midwest and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for her research into the Great Migration. She has lectured on narrative writing at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University and has served as Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University and as the James M. Cox Jr. Professor of Journalism at Emory University. She is currently Professor of Journalism and Director of Narrative Nonfiction at Boston University. During the Great Migration, her parents journeyed from Georgia and southern Virginia to Washington, D.C., where she was born and reared. Her debut book is scheudled for release in early October.
Both a riveting microcosm and a major assessment, “The Warmth of Other Suns” is a superb account of an “unrecognized immigration” within our own land.
Most every woman has found herself with a closet full of too many clothes or surrounded by brand-new items that somehow never get worn. Instead she gets stuck wearing the same few familiar pieces from a wardrobe that just doesn’t feel right. In the new self-help guide, “You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You” (Lifelong Books, $16), Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner argues that all those things are actually manifestations of deeper life issues.
What if you could understand your appearance as a representation of your inner, unresolved conflicts and then assemble a wardrobe to match the way you wish to be perceived? Baumgartner explains how our appearance — and specifically, our wardrobe — reflects our inner struggles, fears, desires and dreams. The book is divided into nine chapters and diagnoses nine distinct shopping complaints and wardrobe mistakes, including everything from “over shopping” and stagnant closets, to baring too much skin and failing to dress your age, to living in “mom jeans” and being a slave to labels.
Not only does Baumgartner give an analysis of the problem from a stylistic and psychological perspective, she offers a treatment plan and fashion remedies. Her psychological fixes run the gamut: from examining the message your clothing sends to others, to determining (and then accentuating) the attribute you love most about yourself, to learning the importance of deflecting would-be fashion critics.
In this fashion guide that is like no other, readers begin to recognize their own fashion ruts and errors — and make positive changes in all areas of life with a true inside-out makeover.
People say that summer colds are the worst, but that’s not entirely true. A cold stinks no matter when you catch it. The sneezing, the stuffiness, the raw throat and hacking cough are no fun at any time, and they always seem to arrive just when you least need them.
But what if the virus was targeted directly at you? What if someone — or something — meant for you to sicken and die, as is the case in the new novel “My Soul to Take” by Tananarive Due (Washington Square Press, $13).
Phoenix Harris never planned on returning to the stage. Once an award-winning singer-songwriter, she was enjoying retirement and motherhood, her son, Marcus, now the center of her life.
Or at least that is until John Wright turned up on her driveway.
Wright represented Clarion, the makers of Glow, a substance banned in the U.S. Phoenix knew Glow was dangerous but she also heard that it saved lives. With recent deadly plagues dotting the planet, how could she refuse one more show?
Fana Wolde listened to Phoenix’s voice, and it made her want to perform healings. Though so many of the Immortal were disdainful of them, Fana was sympathetic to human vulnerability. Mortals fell ill, they suffered and they didn’t live very long at all; Fana knew this because her own mother was once mortal.
But the freedom to heal wouldn’t last. Fana was betrothed to Michel, leader of another branch of the family, and he could be cruel. His interpretation of The Letter, the foundation of their beliefs, was that ritual Cleansing of humanity needed to be performed on a regular basis. Fana knew how much he relished Cleansing — and the screams that accompanied it.
So many of Fana’s Life Brothers were against the betrothal, but it had been prophesied. The best Fana could do was to merge with Michel and hope for a compromise. Perhaps this marriage could temper his cruelty. Fana was willing to sacrifice herself for it.
But others weren’t so eager to let her…
“My Soul to Take” starts out gangbusters, then suddenly drops into confusion. Readers unfamiliar with author Tananarive Due’s other books will wonder who these people are, but Due quickly quashes the lack of clarity with a little backstory before she continues. When that happens, hang onto your seat.
From Washington to Ethiopia, Texas to Mexico, Due doesn’t give her readers one second to catch their breaths as her characters move easily from one world to another in a scheme to save humanity or ruin it. I was surprised by how easy it was to follow such complexity in this story. I also appreciated that Due allows us to sympathize with even the most reprehensible of her characters, which makes them seem more human — or not, as the case may be.
If you need to immerse yourself in another sphere for the weekend, or if you’re up for a good Armageddon novel, “My Soul to Take” won’t disappoint you. Missing this book, in fact, may leave you cold.
You don’t need to be a genius; you just need to be yourself — that’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere and is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, “Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative” (Workman, $10.95), is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.
When Kleon was asked to address college students in upstate New York, he shaped his speech around the 10 things he wished someone had told him when he was starting out. The talk went viral, and its author dug deeper into his own ideas to create “Steal Like an Artist,” the book.
“When it was clear that the talk should become a book, I took my own advice from point three — ‘write the book you want to read’ — and just tried to write a book that I could stick in a time machine and send back to a younger version of myself,” recalled Kleon.
The result is inspiring, hip, original, practical and entertaining. The book is filled with new truths about creativity: Nothing is original, so embrace influence, collect ideas, and remix and re-imagine, to discover your own path. Follow your interests wherever they take you. Stay smart, stay out of debt, and risk being boring — the
creative you will need to make room to be wild and daring in your imagination.
“The biggest response I get from people is something like relief — they thank me for assuring them that they don’t have to live this insane artistic life in order to be creative. They realize that the way we portray ‘the creative genius’ in our culture is a myth — you don’t have to starve for your passions, but rather, can live for them. You can take care of yourself, you can have a good day job, have a nice family and still do the kind of work you want to do. You just surround yourself with the right influences, work hard and play nice.”
While exploring the hidden conversation on race unfolding in America in the wake of President Barack Obama’s election, Michele Norris discovered that there were painful secrets within her own family that had been willfully withheld. These revelations — from her father’s shooting by a Birmingham police officer to her maternal grandmother’s job as an itinerant Aunt Jemima in the Midwest — inspired a bracing journey into her family’s past, from her childhood home in Minneapolis to her ancestral roots in the Deep South. “The Grace of Silence: A Memoir” (Vintage, $14.95), is an exploration in self discovery as the acclaimed reporter examines her own racial legacy and what it means to be an American.
Norris began to write, through original reporting, a book about “the hidden conversation” on race that is unfolding nationwide. She would, she thought, base her book on the frank disclosures of others on the subject, but soon she was forced to confront the fact that “the conversation” in her own family had not been forthright.
“For me it should say ‘an accidental memoir’ because this isn’t the book I set out to write,” explained Norris. “I wanted to listen to people around the country as I traveled around and listened to the way people talk about race — an issue that people talk about in the public sphere, but in private sometimes we're afraid to talk about it. They’re afraid that they might step on a landmine or that they might say something that would lead people to think that they were insensitive. I felt that if I listened to the hidden conversation, the way people talked about it in private spaces, I could put together a book of essays that would reveal something about how we talk and think about race. The problem was when I tried to tune in the frequency and pick up this conversation I started to pick up on things in my own family. I realized that there was a hidden conversation about race among the people who raised me — the people I loved — the people I thought I knew so well.”
As a media veteran, Norris has received scores of accolades and was chosen in 2009 as Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. Norris’ informed curiosity is on display daily in her role as a popular host of NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Her role on the flagship afternoon radio program subtly reveals to the breadth of her award-winning new career: ABC News correspondent; contributor to The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times and guest commentator on “Meet the Press,” “The Chris Matthews Show” and “Charlie Rose.”
In her exploration of the “things left unsaid” by her father and mother when she was growing up, “The Grace of Silence” discloses a reporter's discovery of how her character was forged by both revelation and silence.
Your customer base is changing.
You’ve been noticing it for the past few years: the face of your average client isn’t what it used to be, not surprisingly. These new customers are savvier, they’re men and women of all age groups, they’re smart about where they shop, and they look like they’re coming from around the world.
Let’s face it: Doing business today isn’t like it was even thirty years ago. Your customers are different, but what about your staff? In the new book “The Diversity Index” by Susan E. Reed (Amacom/$27.95), you’ll see how you can strengthen your workplace by letting go of certain archaic practices in hiring.
It doesn’t take a leap of thinking to understand that a business that implements diversity is stronger in a global marketplace. Still, says Reed, almost “50 percent of the Fortune 100 companies employed no African, Asian, Hispanic or Native American men as executive officers in 2009.” Furthermore, even today, workers are stymied by a “white ceiling” that may or may not exclude women in places of power.
So why aren’t we doing better?
Fifty years ago, the President and Vice President of the United States thought we could. Called the Plans for Progress, several contracts were signed by Lyndon Baines Johnson and the presidents of several large defense corporations including Lockheed, Boeing, and others. The contracts stipulated that the contractors would make efforts to locate, train, and employ minority workers and put them in management positions.
The NAACP dismissed the idea as “nothing but hype.”
As you might expect, politics got in the way of progress but the companies involved did succeed in integrating their all-white management teams. Consumers always helped the effort a little: when African Americans learned that there were no Black salesmen at Coca Cola, they boycotted the product.
So what can you do to promote diversity in your business?
Fuse diversity goals with business strategy and provide diversity training to all employees. Create a global feedback system, affinity groups and a way of measuring all managers. Cultivate new talent by encouraging education. Invest in the local community, promote people based on talent and never stop trying new ideas.
Looking for a few solid ideas on readying your business for the global future? You’ll find it here, but not til the end of the book. “The Diversity Index” is really more of a history of how we attained the progress we have.
By mixing politics and the past, author Susan E. Reed shows that the road to a less-homogenous workplace has been a struggle that almost rivals that of the Civil Rights Movement (which it paralleled, to some extent). This history is important — albeit dry as sandpaper — but I was nevertheless disappointed. I wanted more hands-on, make-it-happen information, and it’s barely there.
Don’t read this book for its instruction; instead, look at it for its cautionary peek back in time. If you can manage to do that, then “The Diversity Index” may help you see this issue in more than black and white.
You’re a good kid.
You are. You’re smart, decent, and loyal but every now and then — especially when you’re not asking for it — it seems like trouble jumps on your back for a ride and there ya go. You hate that because it’s times like those that just about ruin your life. Times like those make people think badly about you.
They’d learn different, though, if they’d just give you a break. It’s what everybody needs, but in the new book “On the Come Up” by Travis Hunter (Dafina Teen/$9.95), that break had better come soon.
That’s a high number, even higher when DeMarco Winslow considered it. That’s how many times he’d been locked in juvie before he promised himself that there wouldn’t be a number thirty-three.
Mr. P, a volunteer at the jail, knew that DeMarco could do better but Mr. P didn’t know what it was like to live with an alcoholic mother. Mr. P had no idea that sixteen-year-old DeMarco was the man of the house, or that he watched out for his twin sister, Jasmine, and their three-year-old brother, Devin. No, Mr. P rocked a fancy truck and he was livin’ large. He’d probably never been locked up.
Still, juvie looked pretty good compared to what awaited DeMarco back home.
Jasmine had changed in the seven months that DeMarco was away, and she was running with a girl gang. Sophia, DeMarco’s mother, had a boyfriend, and Otis’ eyes were on Jasmine. The only good thing was that the ’hood was upgrading, and Devin had made a friend of the white lady next door.
Then Jasmine disappeared just before Sophia was arrested for attempted murder, and the school board refused to let DeMarco back in class because of his record — a record he wanted to erase and forget — but the ’hood had other ideas: A cross-town gang was hoping to settle a score, and the gang’s women were claiming that Jasmine owed them serious money.
Yep, it would be hard to resist trouble, but DeMarco was not going back to jail.
Looking for a young adult book that doesn’t include profanity, blood-and-guts, sappy romance or magic and is totally without vampires? Then you want “On the Come Up” because it lacks all of the above and is written just for teen boys.
Author Travis Hunter knows young men because he’s a father of one and a mentor for others. He knows how they talk, how they dress and how they roll, so this book is filled with dialogue and language that isn’t stiff or fakey. What’s best, though, about Hunter’s characters is that they’re basically decent kids who struggle to find a way out of their circumstances. They’re inspiring, responsible, and they’re the kind of people you’d want as friends.
While there’s no reason a teen girl can’t love this book, “On the Come Up” is definitely recommended for boys ages 14–18, as well as adults who want a genuinely decent novel to read. If that’s you, then grab this book and take a break.
The holiday season is a special time in the Delaware Valley. The area is transformed with lights illuminating from every neighborhood nook and cranny and annual favorties — like the holiday light show at Macy’s — regale visitors new and old. From the day after Christmas until the day after New Year’s Day, Dec. 26, 2011, through Jan. 2, 2012, there are plenty of entertaining things for families, couples, singles, sports fans, culture vultures and everyone in between to do, day and night, in the Philadelphia region.
A Philadelphia tradition since 1956, the “Christmas Light Show” at Macy’s Center City illuminates a large wall inside the Wanamaker building, a National Historic Landmark, with almost 100,000 LED lights and finishes with sounds from the Wanamaker Organ through December 31. (Location: 1300 Market St., (215) 241-9000, wanamakerorgan.com). It’s year four for Philadelphia’s high-tech holiday show, “The Comcast Holiday Spectacular,” at the 57-story Comcast Center. Onlookers stand in awe of the original holiday imagery set to the music of a 64-piece orchestra and shown on the 2,000-square-foot, 10 million-pixel LED wall in the building’s lobby. The 15-minute show occurs at the top of the hour, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. (not 5 p.m.) through Jan. 2. (Location: 17th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard, visitphilly.com/Comcast).
Remember the “Enchanted Colonial Village” which made its home at the Lit Brothers department store from 1962 until 1975? The refurbished villiage is now on display at the Please Touch Museum with intricately restored Colonial scenes depicting the Bakery, Blacksmith Shop, Toymaker, Tailor Shop, Watchmaker and others through January 2. The Museum also celebrates 2012 early with “Countdown to Noon” on December 31. The museum opens at 9 a.m. and holds “Noon Year” party activities with music and confetti. Countdowns take place two times this year at noon and 1 p.m. (Location: 4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181, pleasetouchmuseum.org).
Those with early bedtimes can still enjoy an evening New Year’s Eve party at Franklin Square’s “Kids’ New Year’s Eve Countdown,” with festivities and a 6 p.m. “square” drop, topped off with the early fireworks show from Penn’s Landing on December 31. (Location: 6th & Race Streets, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org) The Independence Seaport Museum stays open late for the “Annual Family Fireworks Viewing Party” from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on the museum’s second-floor balcony, complete with a sparkling cider toast and panoramic views of the sparkling sky. The seascape celebrations continue at 8:30 p.m. with the New Year’s Eve Fireworks Gala, featuring dinner, dancing and a brilliant view of the second Penn’s Landing fireworks show on December 31. (Location: 211 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-8655, phillyseaport.org).
Kwanzaa is a celebration held annually in the United States which honors African heritage and culture and the African American Museum in Philadelphia has teamed up with The Gallery at Market East to host a free Kwanzaa Celebration on December 31. (Locations: The Gallery at Market East, 901 Market Street; The African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street. For more information, visit aampmuseum.org or call (215) 574-0380).
The Mummers Parade welcomes 2012 with sequins, feathers, music and revelry. Dating back to 1901, the only-in-Philly celebration is a lively and colorful parade of costumed men, women and children who strut, dance and play music up Broad Street. The parade begins at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Broad Street and Snyder Avenue and proceeds to City Hall, followed by a ticketed competition at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Spectators should purchase tickets ahead of time to sit in the judging stand or get there early to find a spot along the parade route on January 1. (Locations: South Broad Street; Convention Center, 12th & Arch streets, phillymummers.com; tickets for bleacher seating outside City Hall available at the Independence Visitor Center, 6th & Market streets, (215) 965-7676, independencevisitorcenter.com; tickets for the competition at the Convention Center available at (800) 298-4200, comcasttix.com).
For more information about events in Philadelphia, visit visitphilly.com or uwishunu.com, where you can listen to HearPhilly, an online radio station about what to see and do in the region. Or, call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Historic Philadelphia, at (800) 537-7676.
Upon hip-hop artist T.I.’s latest released from jail he announced that he had a new lease on life and was preparing to write a book. “When I touch down, I’m going all the way back to square one, like I’m fresh in the game and never sold a record,” said the Atlanta-based artist. This month marks the release “Power & Beauty: A Love Story of Life on the Streets” (William Morrow, $23.99), a novel of a fictional tale about two childhood friends torn apart by dangerous dealings on the streets of Atlanta.
Clifford Joseph Harris Jr., better known by his stage name T.I. or T.I.P., co-wrote the book with acclaimed writer David Ritz. Ritz, who the New York Times named “the first-call celebrity collaborator,” has written about the lives of many celebrities including Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin. His teaming up with Harris reveals another side of each artist, as the rapper draws on his experiences as a young drug dealer to bring to life this interesting tale.
The Grammy-winning rapper sets his talents to the world of fiction with a gritty street-lit epic. The story chronicles the lives of Paul “Power” Clay and Tanya “Beauty” Long — two kids facing tough odds on the streets of Atlanta. Charlie “Slim” Simmons is the powerful gangster who threatens their relationship. Slim makes his intentions known to the couple by introducing Power to the glamor and danger of Atlanta’s dark side, while showering Beauty with lavish gifts to buy her affection. Eventually, their lives take different paths, yet neither can forget their love — or their powerful affection.
Harris knows the excitement, danger and pain of which he writes. As a teenager, he sold drugs and later served time on federal weapons charges. He and his wife (and fellow music artist), Tiny, are involved in a variety of charities, but their back story of life in the music business has served as the backdrop for several reality programs. Harris, who is internationally known for his work as a film producer, entrepreneur, recording artist and actor, is now reinventing himself as an author. “Power & Beauty” tests his ability to bridge social and generational gaps through art.
President Franklin Roosevelt declared December 7, 1941 to be “a date which will live in infamy.” And so it has. As the 70th anniversary of the tragic events is recalled, the little known events of the era comes to light in historian Stanley Weintraub's “Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941 (Da Capo Press, $24.99).”
Christmas 1941 came little more than two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The shock — in some cases overseas, elation — was worldwide. While Americans attempted to go about celebrating as usual, the reality of the just-declared war was on everybody’s mind. United States troops on Wake Island were battling a Japanese landing force and, in the Philippines, losing the fight to save Luzon. In Japan, the Pearl Harbor strike force returned to Hiroshima Bay and toasted its sweeping success.
Across the Atlantic, much of Europe was frozen in grim Nazi occupation. Roosevelt wanted a few weeks to get his thoughts in order and prepare the nation for what lay ahead, but British Prime Minister Winston Churchill — who for months had pleaded with the U.S. to enter WWII — surprised Roosevelt with an unprecedented trip to Washington. Fortified with Mothersills Seasick Remedy, Churchill set out across a rough Atlantic at great personal risk (the waters were a shooting gallery for German submarines). When he reached dry land on Dec. 22, Roosevelt was there waiting for him, propped up by his locked leg braces and leaning across his black limousine (which the Treasury Department had confiscated from Al Capone). As Weitruab explains, to be met by FDR himself was “an unusual honor for a head of government, especially when proffered by a long-incapacitated president.” The action in and of itself spoke volumes.
Just three days before Christmas, the two Allied leaders jointly lit the White House Christmas tree and then mapped out a winning wartime strategy, the most remarkable Christmas of the century played out across the globe. “Pearl Harbor Christmas” documents the week of discussions that ensued between the president and the prime minister.
It is also the story of the guest who wouldn’t leave — Churchill not only attended the tree lighting on the South Lawn, he accompanied FDR to church on Christmas morning (sitting with the president in his pew, of course), and staying at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. through the holiday for Christmas dinner (turkey, served “using gold-plated flatware from the Grover Cleveland administration”).
Weintraub is an award winning scholar, serves as the Evan Pugh Professor Emeritus of Arts and Humanities at Penn State University and the author and co-author of over 50 notable histories and biographies including “11 Days in December,” “Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce” and “ A Stillness Heard Round the World: The End of the Great War.” “Pearl Harbor Christmas” juxtaposes the diplomatic entreaties of two men dealing with a world at war.