ningerbil (ningerbil) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 22 and 23

22. The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson. This should be required reading for students of 20th century American history. This was recommended to me by a co-worker, and I'm glad he did because this was a fantastic read. Wilkerson obviously put in many years of time and effort into this. The book itself is about the Great Migration of African Americans from the south to the north and west, and the impacts of that movement even to this day. But this isn't a straight history book. The Migration, which took place from about 1915 to about 1970, is told primarily through three ordinary and different people who were part of the Migration. Through a series of interviews, Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, George Swanson Starling and Robert Joseph Pershing Foster relate their backgrounds, what prompted each to move from the south and their lives after the move. These three provide an interesting cross section: Ida Mae and her husband were sharecroppers who moved after an unpleasant incident involving a family member; George, who had some college, moved after his efforts to get his fellow crop pickers to band together and demand better wages put his life in jeopardy; Robert, the best educated, moved so he could be a practicing doctor and surgeon (he was the personal physician to Ray Charles). Each has their successes, failures, triumphs and heartaches. Peppered throughout are the surveys conducted as to why people had moved, such as the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and their reactions, as well as the stories of people like Arrington High and Henry Brown, both of whom escaped the south (at different time periods) through harrowing and unconventional methods. The book is easy to follow and read, and while it covers a lot of history, it never comes across as dry or soporific. It also, through research, seeks to dispel a lot of myths, including some about "white flight." All in all, a fantastic and informative read.

23. Timeline, by Michael Crichton. Crichton had a talent for making the science in his books sound plausible and accessible, and it's obvious he put in a lot of research in both quantum physics and the Medieval period with this fun, if not perfect, story. A man is found wandering around in an Arizona desert muttering in rhyme and dressed in strange garments. Meanwhile, on a dig site in France, a team of archeologists make a stunning discovery, which takes some of them back to the United States and to one of the buildings of a large but secretive organization that has been funding said dig. The archeologists find themselves in the fight for their lives as they attempt to rescue one of their members -- from about 600 years in the past. This nearly 500 page novel reads very quickly, and Crichton struck a good balance with explaining enough history and science without weighing down the plot. I especially found the historical aspects and the language information interesting. There's a large cast of characters, and sometimes they are a bit hard to tell apart in the beginning. One of my two nitpicks is that with a couple characters Crichton switched sometimes with calling a character by his or her first name, then last name, then back again in the story, which can get confusing. That's a pet peeve of mine. Authors should stick to either the first name or last name (I'm not referring to dialogue situations of course) with their characters, when referring to them. Also, I thought the fates of two of the characters mentioned in the beginning- a nurse and a police officer- were a bit too unresolved, although that could have been due to the necessity of keeping the story focused. Also a bit mixed on the ending, and the fate of the company president. Yes, he's a jerk and all but what happens to him just ... I don't know. I don't think the punishment fit the crime. Also, it was a bit too pat. A good book for the general storyline, though.

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