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The promised land : the great Black migration and how it changed America /
Nicholas Lemann.
1st ed. --
New York : A.A. Knopf, 1991.
410 p. ; 24 cm.
0394560043 :
More Details
New York : A.A. Knopf, 1991.
0394560043 :
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [363]-401) and index.
A Look Inside
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Helen Bernstein Book Award, USA, 1991 : Won
Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, USA, 1992 : Nominated
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1991-01-11:
As cotton farming became increasingly mechanized, an estimated five million blacks migrated from the rural South to the urban North between 1940 and 1970. Lemann, Atlantic contributing editor, re-creates this vast migration in microcosm by focusing on a handful of blacks who left the Mississippi Delta for Chicago's slums. Intertwined with their personal stories are several subplots: high-level wrangling in JFK's and LBJ's war on poverty; Chicago Mayor Richard Daley applying the ?? brake to integration efforts; the raging debate over the root causes of the persistence of an underclass; the crumbling of an interracial, nonviolent civil rights movement and its replacement by the furtherance of black programs as a black cause. One of Lemann's main aims is to refute the widespread belief that all the federal government's past efforts to help the black poor failed. He sketches a framework for a wholesale assault on poverty. This compellingly dramatic, vivid document speaks to the nation's racial conscience. 40,000 first printing; BOMC, History Book Club and QPB alternates. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 1991-02:
Focusing on the larger post-1940 complement of the black South-to-North movement--the ``Great Black Migration''--that created New York's Harlem and similar black quarters in every major northern city, Lemann traces the roots of Ameri ca's rotting ghettos. Moving between Clarksdale, Mississippi, Chicago, and the nation's capital with skill, Lemann (a contributing editor at The Atlantic ) particularizes and personalizes in life stories the forces that shifted five million blacks North after 1940 and then trapped most of them and their progeny in poverty. His essay in social causation and consequences rings as a manifesto of public policy for the 1990s with the clear theme that the nation can and must undo what its racism has done. It is highly recommended for all collections on contemporary America. Quality Paperback Book Club alternate.-- Thomas J. Davis, Univ. at Buffalo, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 1991-09:
Lemann has written a very human, narrative history of the African American migration to the North that covers the period from WW I to the present. Although he treats the 5 million migrants who moved after 1940, they come alive in his use of the personal history of one migrant, Ruby Lee Hopkins, and others from Clarksdale, Mississippi. Machines that picked cotton pushed this vast migration out of the South, and jobs, better pay, and the vote pulled them North. But Lemann emphasizes the effects rather than the forces of change. Blacks deserted Clarksdale, Lemann's choice as the point of departure from the Delta, for Chicago, where the promises were limited by white racism, union discrimination, the political machine, and the deline of manufacturing. Social disorganization in the form of loose sexual practices, unstable families, crime, gangs, and a crumbling ghetto followed. Efforts by the fedeal government and by community action programs could not do everything that was needed. Ruby returned to Clarksdale in time, but, although Mississippi had changed considerably for the better from the viewpoint of African Americans, social disorganization was evident there as well. Lemann argues that new, as yet unseen forces will change the ghetto and he suggests that a strong federal program could do what the Great Society had hoped to do. College, university, and public libraries. -L. H. Grothaus, Concordia Teachers College
Review Quotes
"A compelling and powerful book that should be read by anyone interested in the continuing history of racial oppression and conflict in the United States. Lemann successfully interweaves personal narratives of African-American migrants and their families with the discouraging story of politics and public policy in Chicago and Washington."-- David Brion Davis, Yale University "A fascinating and deeply moving book, a masterpiece of social anthropology. Lemann's account of the political history of the War on Poverty ranks with the very best contemporary history."--David Herbert Donald, Harvard University
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, January 1991
Library Journal, February 1991
Booklist, March 1991
Choice, September 1991
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Description for Library
Focusing on individual experiences, the author traces the movement of blacks from the rural South to the promise of a new life in the urban North during & after World War I.
Main Description
A New York Times bestseller, the groundbreaking authoritative history of the migration of African-Americans from the rural South to the urban North. A definitive book on American history, The Promised Land is also essential reading for educators and policymakers at both national and local levels. From the Trade Paperback edition.

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