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The first book to explore the historical role and residual impact of the Green Book, a travel guide for black motorists  Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was hailed as the “black travel guide to America.” At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldn’t eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned b The first book to explore the historical role and residual impact of the Green Book, a travel guide for black motorists  Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was hailed as the “black travel guide to America.” At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldn’t eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned businesses. The Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses that were safe for black travelers. It was a resourceful and innovative solution to a horrific problem. It took courage to be listed in the Green Book, and Overground Railroad celebrates the stories of those who put their names in the book and stood up against segregation. It shows the history of the Green Book, how we arrived at our present historical moment, and how far we still have to go when it comes to race relations in America. 


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The first book to explore the historical role and residual impact of the Green Book, a travel guide for black motorists  Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was hailed as the “black travel guide to America.” At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldn’t eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned b The first book to explore the historical role and residual impact of the Green Book, a travel guide for black motorists  Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was hailed as the “black travel guide to America.” At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldn’t eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned businesses. The Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses that were safe for black travelers. It was a resourceful and innovative solution to a horrific problem. It took courage to be listed in the Green Book, and Overground Railroad celebrates the stories of those who put their names in the book and stood up against segregation. It shows the history of the Green Book, how we arrived at our present historical moment, and how far we still have to go when it comes to race relations in America. 

30 review for Overground Railroad: The Green Book Roots of Black Travel in America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    "Carry your Green Book with you . . . you may need it!" -- the admonishment often listed on the cover About a year ago a film called Green Book (starring Mahershala Ali, an actor who is lately receiving a lot of well-deserved accolades; I thought he was just outstanding in the third season of HBO's True Detective anthology series) was released in theaters. I had no idea what the title meant, and I have not yet had a chance to watch the acclaimed film. But it spurred me on to select Taylor's Overg "Carry your Green Book with you . . . you may need it!" -- the admonishment often listed on the cover About a year ago a film called Green Book (starring Mahershala Ali, an actor who is lately receiving a lot of well-deserved accolades; I thought he was just outstanding in the third season of HBO's True Detective anthology series) was released in theaters. I had no idea what the title meant, and I have not yet had a chance to watch the acclaimed film. But it spurred me on to select Taylor's Overground Railroad: The Green Book & Roots of Black Travel in America from my local library's new release shelf. Sometimes it's kind of amazing about the relatively recent but little-known / remembered or forgotten history a reader can learn about via a book. For thirty years - 1936 to 1966, with only a break during WWII - a mail carrier named Victor Green self-published an annual advisory guide for African-American travelers in the era where vacationing by automobile became more commonplace with the early state routes and highways. His 'The Negro Motorist Green Book' (meaning both his surname and the color of ink used on the covers) listed establishments - hotels, restaurants, taverns, night clubs, repair garages, dry cleaners, hair care, etc. - that were often owned by and would cater to customers of African-American descent. His intent was to assist in safe travel and promote friendly enterprises in that less-enlightened time of 'whites only' postings and Jim Crow laws. Author Taylor does an excellent job documenting and detailing a number of the businesses and the involved personalities (I would love to have a conversation with the motherly Ms. Leah Chase - who is still with us at 97 years old - about the time Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall had a strategy meeting/dinner at her New Orleans diner) that simply no longer exist for many reasons. There are also numerous historical and current-day photographs of the locations and folks. Much less interesting were the author's politics and beliefs which begin to grind on me because it felt like being lectured. I thought it became heavy-handed at times as I did not agree with all of her opinions.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kusaimamekirai

    Living in Japan for the past decade or so, I always find it difficult to express to people what life was and is like for black men and women in America. There is always a kind of shock and horror at the endemic racism in America’s history and that it lives on even after a black president. At this point I’m often asked, “How did people survive under these conditions? How did they have families and lives?” Not having lived through some of the truly horrible history, I can only imagine that one Living in Japan for the past decade or so, I always find it difficult to express to people what life was and is like for black men and women in America. There is always a kind of shock and horror at the endemic racism in America’s history and that it lives on even after a black president. At this point I’m often asked, “How did people survive under these conditions? How did they have families and lives?” Not having lived through some of the truly horrible history, I can only imagine that one develops coping mechanisms to deal with the everyday horror. One learns where and where not to go and what to do if all else fails. “Overground Railroad” is a fascinating book that deals with one particular way black people dealt with the very real danger of being black in America while trying to live the semblance of a normal life. In 1936, US postal worker Victor Green would publish the first in a series over more than two decades of travel books called “The Negro Traveler’s Green Book”. It was not the first of its kind but it was unique in its thoroughness and ubiquity in the lives of those who used it. Filled with black friendly hotels, restaurants, and entertainment spaces, the Green Book was much more than simply a travel guide. It was in a very real sense a lifesaver when driving through unfamiliar areas. “Overground Railroad” is filled with anecdotes, particularly from the author’s stepfather, about instances where travel was deadly serious and not knowing where was safe could have disastrous consequences. Right from the beginning we are told a story of the police pulling over her stepfather in an unfamiliar Southern town: “ ‘Don’t you dare say a word’ Ron was sitting in the back seat as his father pulled the car to a stop at the side of the road. His father had told him to be quiet before, but this was the first time Ron felt the words reverberate to the pit of his stomach. Moments later, the sheriff stood over the well-appointed 1953 Chevy sedan complete with all the modern features you read about in the magazines. ‘Where did you get this vehicle? What are you doing here? And who are these people with you?’ the sheriff asked. Ron’s father answered, It’s my employer’s car. He pointed to his wife, sitting upright and expressionless in the passenger seat. He pretended that she wasn’t his wife and said, ‘This is my employer’s maid, and that is her son in the back. I’m taking them home. The sheriff took a long, hard look at Ron’s mother and then angled his eyes to the back seat. A young Ronald sat tight-lipped, too afraid to turn his head or even take a breath. ‘Where’s your hat?’ the sheriff barked at Ron’s dad. ‘Hanging up right behind me in the back seat, officer.’ The sheriff waved. ‘All right. Move on.’ As they drove north across the Tennessee border, a sad, eerie silence hung in the air. The jovial conversation they were having right before the sheriff pulled them over had stopped dead. And although there was no discussion about what had just happened, the gravity of the situation was clear. Ron watched Daddy and Mama exchange knowing glances and then turned his head to look at the black, unassuming cap that had been hanging next to him in the back seat ever since he could remember. It wasn’t until that moment that he realized why he had never seen his father wearing it. Mama wasn’t a maid, and Daddy wasn’t a driver. He had a good job with the railroad, and this was their family car. Until that day, Ron never paid attention to that cap, but now he realized that it wasn’t just any hat. It was a chauffeur’s hat. A ruse, a prop, a lifesaver. During the Jim Crow era, the chauffeur’s hat was the perfect cover for every middle-class black man pulled over and harassed by the police. If Ron’s father had told the sheriff the truth that he was driving his own car and that they were a family on vacation the sheriff wouldn’t have believed him. He would have assumed the car was stolen. In the event that the sheriff did believe it was Ron’s father’ s car, the rage and jealousy he might have felt at the thought of a black man owning a nicer car than a police officer might have triggered a beating, torture, or even murder. From that day on, Ron noticed these hats strategically placed, like unarmed weapons, in the back seat of nearly every black man’s car. With stories like this being part of everyday life, perhaps it is no wonder that Green would always append the tag live to his guide “Carry your Green Book with you-you may need it”. It was no idle suggestion. Despite the ever present dangers to black travelers and that vaguely ominous sentence however, the Free Book did not trade in fear. Along with the listings travelers would need on the road, the guide was often filled with articles about upwardly mobile black men and women, the latest in cars and household appliances, and generally celebrating a good life. It was also for most of its life generally apolitical until its later editions in the 1960s. As the author attempts to visit many of the sites however, she discovers that most of them have either fallen into disrepair or long since been destroyed. Taylor ties this in brilliantly to the seeming unquenchable desire to establish white historical landmarks while black ones are more often than not ignored or destroyed. Looking at the broken communities today where many of these sites once stood, it is hard not to feel despondent, if not angry, that two different Americas have been allowed to exist side by side for so long. As she points it, this degradation in black communities was by design. Be it through the practice of ‘redlining’ where real estate agents specifically underlined properties that were not to be rented or sold to blacks (she references James Loewen’s research into this practice in his fantastic book “Sundown Towns”. I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in this), or the interstate highway system built in the 1950’s which ruthlessly bisected black communities while leaving white ones intact. As she writes: “So, when we look at places such as Chicago and wonder why there is so much violence there, perhaps that is the wrong question. Given this history, why would we expect it to be any different? If you have two plants and you give one everything it needs (sunshine, food, and water) and barely water the other one, you won’t expect the neglected plant to be as robust as the one that received nourishment, kindness, and attention. From this perspective, isn’t it obvious that the flagrant neglect by state and federal governments bears significant responsibility for the dire condition of inner-city neighborhoods throughout America?” Looking at America in 2020, it is difficult to argue with her thesis. While there is no longer a need for a “Green Book”, it is clear with police brutality, discrimination in housing, and the resegregation of schools, that America remains a country that has yet to live up to its ideals for all of its citizens.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    Between 1936 and 1966 a guide called the “Green Book” was published to assist black people in finding accommodations when traveling in America. Through most of this time, it was published by Victor Hugo Green, a postal worker from Harlem. The fact that such a guide was needed is shameful, but without it there would not have been a way to find food, housing, gas or bathrooms in most of this country. The book featured black-owned businesses and black-friendly ones. This was no small task consideri Between 1936 and 1966 a guide called the “Green Book” was published to assist black people in finding accommodations when traveling in America. Through most of this time, it was published by Victor Hugo Green, a postal worker from Harlem. The fact that such a guide was needed is shameful, but without it there would not have been a way to find food, housing, gas or bathrooms in most of this country. The book featured black-owned businesses and black-friendly ones. This was no small task considering the prevalence of segregation. We shouldn’t be under the impression that this was a “southern problem”, many businesses on 125th Street in Harlem refused to serve negroes. “A huge concern for black motorists was getting stranded in a ‘sundown town’, an all-white enclave that banned black people from entering after dark.” “...sundown towns were largely a northern construct, starting in about 1890 and lasting well into the 1960s in fact, he found hundreds of sundown towns in Illinois alone.” Sometimes drivers would have to travel hundreds of miles to find accommodations. They knew to bring food, water and camping equipment if they were traveling on Route 66. This book is wonderfully thorough. The author actually traveled to the “Green Book” sites. It is arranged chronologically so it permits the author to trace social progress. “By the 1960s “...the ‘Green Book’ had grown from a ten-page pamphlet to a 128-page book. And although it was still sold at Esso stations, it could be purchased also on newsstands and in Gimbels department store in New York City. By the 1960s, the ‘Green Book’ had subscribers from all over the world, including Canada, Mexico, the West Indies, England and West Africa.” The vibrancy in the listings seemed to diminish when they were redesigned in 1956. Some types of listings disappeared, like music venues, gas stations, drugstores, hair salons and sanitariums. The “Green Book” was then more like a AAA travel guide. The 1963-64 edition published an article that outlined anti discrimination laws for 30 states, provided information for what recourse readers had if they were refused service or treated poorly and listed every US Civil Rights Commission office by state. “This is not a book about the history of road-tripping and black travel. It’s more of a pilgrimage toward understanding a country so blinded by symbolism that it can’t or won’t tackle the pervasive, relentless forces that created the environment for the “Green Book” to thrive in the first place. It is a book that I hope will show how we got here and why, after all this time, we still have so far to go.” There are so many interesting tidbits here. I bet you don’t know who patented the first golf tee. It was George Grant, an African American dentist in 1899. The book has a picture of the patented tee. Also, many black men kept a chauffeur’s cap in their cars, so when the police pulled them over they could claim that they were driving their employer’s car. Otherwise, the cop would either assume that if a negro was driving a nice car either the car was stolen or that the driver was uppity for having dared to own a car better than the cop owned, either way a beating was likely to ensue. My, how times have changed. The cap trick doesn’t work anymore. There are lots of pictures in this book (including a picture of every cover other than the first one). I have ARCs of both the physical book and the audiobook so I got to see the pictures. I really hope that the final version of the audiobook comes with a pdf. The narration by Lisa Reneé Pitts of the audiobook was excellent. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    full post here: http://www.nonfictionrealstuff.com/20... This book is a must read. An absolute must read. I'd first heard of the Green Book while reading Matt Ruff's novel Lovecraft Country a couple of years back. In the novel, set in the 1950s, one of the characters was the editor/publisher of something called The Safe Negro Travel Guide. I remember at the time thinking what a crap thing it was that something like The Safe Negro Travel Guide had to even exist, and wondering if there was some unde full post here: http://www.nonfictionrealstuff.com/20... This book is a must read. An absolute must read. I'd first heard of the Green Book while reading Matt Ruff's novel Lovecraft Country a couple of years back. In the novel, set in the 1950s, one of the characters was the editor/publisher of something called The Safe Negro Travel Guide. I remember at the time thinking what a crap thing it was that something like The Safe Negro Travel Guide had to even exist, and wondering if there was some underlying truth to it I looked it up, and sure as s**t there it was, The Negro Motorist Green Book. I was appalled, actually, a) that this was a real thing and b) at my own ignorance -- I had no clue that it existed. However sad the fact of its existence, it turned out to be, as author Candacy Taylor notes, "an ingenious solution to a horrific problem," representing "the fundamental optimism of a race of people facing tyranny and terrorism." In Overground Railroad, the author (who has visited over four thousand Green Book sites, and provides some of the photos she's taken in the book) offers an across-the-decades overview of the Green Book, published from 1936-1967, setting her work within both historical and geographical contexts of American history. In doing so, she examines racism and other forces at work in this country that led to the necessity of creating such a guide. Victor Green, who founded the Green Book in 1936, most likely made no money from it, but as the author notes, "his reward was much more valuable than money, because for every business he listed, he may have saved a life." As she also states, "real change can come from simple tools that solve a problem," which is what made the Green Book so powerful. What Henry Lewis Gates, Jr. says about this book on the back-cover blurb sort of sums it all up: "If 'making a way out of no way' is a theme that runs throughout African-American life, few things encapsulate that theme more powerfully that the Green Book. A symbol of Jim Crow America, it is also a stunning rebuke of it, born out of ingenuity and the relentless quest for freedom." It is unforgettable, compelling and a book that is not only beyond relevant but also critical reading in our own times, one that should be on the shelves of every library everywhere including the one in your home. It is worthy of winning any book award nomination that may come its way. Brava, Candacy Taylor, just brava. documentary: https://www.smithsonianchannel.com/sh... available on the Smithsonian Channel or via Amazon prime video.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie DeMoss

    Overall this was not as expected. I thought it was about the history of the Green Book and stories of the brave business owners who opened their doors to people of color, even when they were taking a risk to do so. There is a little bit of that in the book. But the author spends a lot of time on current political topics and their opinion of the President. I have been avoiding current political books and reviews by choice, so I don’t like it when a political book is represented as something else. Overall this was not as expected. I thought it was about the history of the Green Book and stories of the brave business owners who opened their doors to people of color, even when they were taking a risk to do so. There is a little bit of that in the book. But the author spends a lot of time on current political topics and their opinion of the President. I have been avoiding current political books and reviews by choice, so I don’t like it when a political book is represented as something else. I did appreciate the author's well written description of what it was like to live under the Jim Crow laws, and the horrific treatment of black people during that time. Unfortunately she kept referring back to 2020 politics constantly. If I had been warned this was a book about current politics I would have passed it by. There was a period of almost 30 minutes early in the book that was strictly about current politics, and I almost stopped listening at that point. This book was not really as described, but is well written and will appeal to others who don't mind all the current political commentary. The narrator of the audiobook did a good job. I received a free copy of the audiobook via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cam

    Very interesting and informative book to read. I learned about things I never thought about reading the book. Green Book was hailed as the “black travel guide to America.” At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldn’t eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned businesses. The Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses that were safe for black travelers. It was a resourceful and innovative solution Very interesting and informative book to read. I learned about things I never thought about reading the book. Green Book was hailed as the “black travel guide to America.” At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldn’t eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned businesses. The Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses that were safe for black travelers. It was a resourceful and innovative solution to a horrific problem. It took courage to be listed in the Green Book, and Overground Railroad celebrates the stories of those who put their names in the book and stood up against segregation. It shows the history of the Green Book, how we arrived at our present historical moment, and how far we still have to go when it comes to race relations in America.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Never Without a Book

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B685NFrAD... This is a MUST READ. https://www.instagram.com/p/B685NFrAD... This is a MUST READ.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kimba Tichenor

    Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was a travel guide for African Americans, providing potentially life-saving information about at what restaurants, hotels, boarding houses, tourist sites, countries, auto dealers, and even colleges they would be welcomed. Author and documentarian Candacy Taylor uses the history of the Green Book as a gateway into a much larger story about how black bodies in the United States have been surveilled, censured, and violated since the end of the Civil War a Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was a travel guide for African Americans, providing potentially life-saving information about at what restaurants, hotels, boarding houses, tourist sites, countries, auto dealers, and even colleges they would be welcomed. Author and documentarian Candacy Taylor uses the history of the Green Book as a gateway into a much larger story about how black bodies in the United States have been surveilled, censured, and violated since the end of the Civil War and the emancipation of slaves. Drawing on interviews, archival documents, newspapers, and of course the Green Book, she offers a powerful indictment of the legacies of institutional racism: decades of government indifference and disinvestment, red lining and the devaluation of black real estate, a modern policing and prison system that evolved from slave patrols, and years of unequal schools. But what makes this narrative truly compelling is its seamless incorporation of firsthand accounts of what it meant and means to be black in the United States. For example, the book opens with a testimonial by the author's stepfather Ron of what it was like to travel as an African American in the 1950s. A small boy at the time, he vividly recalls one night when his family was pulled to the side of the road by a sheriff. Suddenly a trip that had been filled with joy turned into a nightmare as the sheriff inquired of his father, "Where did he get that car?" The fully-loaded 1953 sedan belonged to his father, but his father knew better than to claim ownership. Instead, he answered that it was his employer's car and that he was a hired driver. He was taking home his employer's maid and her son. The sheriff then asked, "Where's your chauffeur's cap?" And at that moment the father pointed to a cap on a hook just behind the driver's seat -- something that the young Ron had seen in the car but never really understood its presence. Now, he realized that it was a prop, carried specifically for the purpose of ensuring his family's safety when out on the road. These types of stories found throughout the book ensure that the reader never forgets that the abstract concept of institutional racism has real world consequences for individuals of color, who like their white counterparts, have dreams, goals, aspirations, and human dignity, but who because of the color of their skin don't have the same opportunities to realize them. The narrator for the audio version of this book does an impeccable job. This is no small feat given the book runs the gamut from historical narrative to personal horror stories to moments of humor. Through the intonation of her voice, she communicates the author's impassioned plea for change and the moments of humor and horror, while at the same time using a more objective tone to communicate the historical arc of the Green Book's evolution over the years and how ironically integration, for which African Americans had fought so hard, inadvertently led to the demise of many of the businesses that advertised in the Green Book. I would like to thank the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for an advance copy of this audiobook in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Haider

    It is important to learn from history to get a better understanding of where society is at today. The year 2020 has helped shine a spot light on our continued need for equal treatment of all people. Overground Railroad talks about a very specific niche of Black history in America. Starting in the 1930's and continuing for several decades, the Green Book was published letting Black travelers know which businesses supported and welcomed Black people. This was important in a time when Jim Crow was It is important to learn from history to get a better understanding of where society is at today. The year 2020 has helped shine a spot light on our continued need for equal treatment of all people. Overground Railroad talks about a very specific niche of Black history in America. Starting in the 1930's and continuing for several decades, the Green Book was published letting Black travelers know which businesses supported and welcomed Black people. This was important in a time when Jim Crow was very much still in effect and Sundown Towns were a thing. Black people could have been in danger if they wandered into the wrong town after dark. The author did an excellent job of relaying the history of the Green Book and how it related to the cultural landscape at the time. I highly recommend this book to American History buffs or anyone interested in doing some anti-racist reading. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was engaging and definitely captured my attention throughout. Thank you to the publisher for the audio book in exchange for an honest review!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Naia Pard

    This audiobook was given to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. When I first read the title, I was a little uneasy because I thought that I will be listening to a nine hour narration about somebody describing another book (the Green Book). I WAS SO WRONG. And I am glad that I was, I am glad that I did not give up and kept listening to it, anyhow. Because this is not a book about a book this is a step by step immersion into why the Green Book had been needed in the first place in Jim This audiobook was given to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. When I first read the title, I was a little uneasy because I thought that I will be listening to a nine hour narration about somebody describing another book (the Green Book). I WAS SO WRONG. And I am glad that I was, I am glad that I did not give up and kept listening to it, anyhow. Because this is not a book about a book this is a step by step immersion into why the Green Book had been needed in the first place in Jim Crow`s America. This is a history lesson that punches you in the gut in the most refined possible way. It holds you on the edge of you seat, it makes you afraid and it sparks anger. It was like a ballad that sung the black experience in segregationist America. It is a good material to understand better the current situation. It is a good beginning to start paying attention to your surroundings. \\Instagram\\my Blog\\

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stacia

    As with all the race-related reading I've done over the past couple of years, this book continues to teach me, to open my eyes, to make me understand.... I am so grateful to have access to these books, these accounts, these shared stories. This book is an eye-opening & fascinating view of Black road travel (& its many related problems) from the 1930s through the 1960s. While the book is serious & obviously addresses horrific systemic & personal racism, it also remains upbeat in many ways, reflect As with all the race-related reading I've done over the past couple of years, this book continues to teach me, to open my eyes, to make me understand.... I am so grateful to have access to these books, these accounts, these shared stories. This book is an eye-opening & fascinating view of Black road travel (& its many related problems) from the 1930s through the 1960s. While the book is serious & obviously addresses horrific systemic & personal racism, it also remains upbeat in many ways, reflecting the original Green Books in that they helped make safer Black travel an accessible reality. The book is presented chronologically through the editions & is not only a micro look at travel, but also a macro look at the race issues of the time throughout the US. Many wonderful photos of the Green Book covers, content, locations, & people are included. Sadly, lynching photos were popular at one time (I daresay with social media, they are heartbreakingly & horrifyingly still all too common) & one is included, as well as some examples of racist advertising. America needs to face & explore its racist soul. "The Green Book was a formidable weapon in the fight for equal rights. It gave black Americans permission to venture out onto America's highways and enjoy the country they helped build. Victor Green probably didn't set out to create a weapon for change, but it's also likely that when Steve Jobs put a video camera in a phone, he didn't plan to trigger a new civil rights movement, either. The point is that real change can come from simple tools that solve a problem. That is why the Green Book was so powerful." A must-read for a piece of history that too many Americans know little to nothing about. Taylor, the author, is also a cultural documentarian & has worked with the Smithsonian to create a traveling exhibit in conjunction with the book. I'm not sure how the exhibit is being affected by covid, but it looks like the exhibit is currently in Memphis until Jan. of 2021. Her webpage has more info, as does the Smithsonian page. http://www.taylormadeculture.com/the-... https://www.sites.si.edu/s/topic/0TO3... Taylor mentions in the Author's Note that she is working on a children's edition aimed for 9- to 12-year-olds. I'm looking forward to seeing what she publishes.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alli

    If it's possible to admire a book alone for its font, I do so wholeheartedly, along with a massive collection of fascinating photographs and mementos detailing the history of the Green Book travel guides. This compendium offers a viewpoint of this historical periodical that correctly researches it from within the author's culture as opposed to imposing a Hollywood shine on it, they of the ill-received Oscar-winning film of the same name. If it's possible to admire a book alone for its font, I do so wholeheartedly, along with a massive collection of fascinating photographs and mementos detailing the history of the Green Book travel guides. This compendium offers a viewpoint of this historical periodical that correctly researches it from within the author's culture as opposed to imposing a Hollywood shine on it, they of the ill-received Oscar-winning film of the same name.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    The story of America is often the story of people moving -- migrating, pioneering, or just taking a vacation to see someplace new or visit relatives. But for Black Americans, moving is not the carefree Route 66 roadtrip that it is for white people. During Jim Crow, many hotels, restaurants, and even gas stations were off limits to Black travelers. The Green Book was one of several guides for Black motorists (as well as those traveling by train or bus) to let them know where they were welcome to The story of America is often the story of people moving -- migrating, pioneering, or just taking a vacation to see someplace new or visit relatives. But for Black Americans, moving is not the carefree Route 66 roadtrip that it is for white people. During Jim Crow, many hotels, restaurants, and even gas stations were off limits to Black travelers. The Green Book was one of several guides for Black motorists (as well as those traveling by train or bus) to let them know where they were welcome to eat, sleep, and stop. Candacy Taylor's Overground Railroad could have been just a terrific coffee table book with its colorful photos of featured hotels and diners along with pages from the iconic Green Book. But she went much further and also made it a riveting history of the Green Book, of Jim Crow, and -- most important -- she emphasizes with examples how this era is not really over. Really eye-opening and I look forward to more by Taylor.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    5⭐️ My copy of this was an audiobook and I loved the narrator. She is one of my favorites in the audiobook world. And to be honest I probably wouldn’t of enjoyed it as much if I had read it. Now about the book. It’s a story of race in America. The green book was a guide-map that was created to allow African Americans safe travel. The first book was only 10 pages long. While writing this, the author visited 30 sites a day. These “green books” also represented survival. This book is a historical ac 5⭐️ My copy of this was an audiobook and I loved the narrator. She is one of my favorites in the audiobook world. And to be honest I probably wouldn’t of enjoyed it as much if I had read it. Now about the book. It’s a story of race in America. The green book was a guide-map that was created to allow African Americans safe travel. The first book was only 10 pages long. While writing this, the author visited 30 sites a day. These “green books” also represented survival. This book is a historical account and pilgrimage. The author shows her dedication in her words and it was a piece of history I knew nothing about. I highly recommend it and hope you take the time to unpack it. Let the telling teach you something about our America. The good news is that it isn’t to late to start doing the right thing. Thank you NETGALLEY and the publisher for this ARC, in exchange for my honest review. ♥️

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    I can't say enough about how wonderful this book is. Not only does it explain the history of something that I'm going to say most people don't really know about, and not only does it have amazing photography to add to the story, but it uses real people's testimonies to give a personal element and help the reader feel the emotions that all the people affected by Jim Crow and segregation must have felt. It was a very emotionally taxing book, making me really think critically about all the history I can't say enough about how wonderful this book is. Not only does it explain the history of something that I'm going to say most people don't really know about, and not only does it have amazing photography to add to the story, but it uses real people's testimonies to give a personal element and help the reader feel the emotions that all the people affected by Jim Crow and segregation must have felt. It was a very emotionally taxing book, making me really think critically about all the history that this country keeps quiet. I guarantee it will do the same for other readers. But at the same time, through all the heartbreaking stories and realities, you can see the strength of a community of people to fight and work to overcome a prejudiced society. That in itself is inspiring.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dee Dee G

    I thought this book would just cover the Green Book but it’s full of history. There’s so much I didn’t know and learned about. Great read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Panda Incognito

    This book describes the history of the Green Book traveling guide for African Americans, chronologically exploring this project's development and impact from the mid-30s through integration. However, this book is also a guide to the author's personal thoughts about a variety of different political and social issues, and the Green Book is often just a backdrop to what she wants to say about later decades' events and contemporary problems. I ended up being very disappointed, because even though th This book describes the history of the Green Book traveling guide for African Americans, chronologically exploring this project's development and impact from the mid-30s through integration. However, this book is also a guide to the author's personal thoughts about a variety of different political and social issues, and the Green Book is often just a backdrop to what she wants to say about later decades' events and contemporary problems. I ended up being very disappointed, because even though this book covers a lot of great material, its title, cover, and size deceived me into thinking that this would provide far more substantial history about the Green Book and black travel than it actually did. I wanted more stories about the experiences that black individuals and families had on the road, and less detail about how different geographic areas' racial makeups and politics changed over time. Even though systemic racism is very relevant to the story, the author couldn't decide between writing about the Green Book and writing about the history of US race relations. Much of this material was already familiar to me, and even though I learned a lot of new and interesting things, like about how some northern cities limited access to public recreational parks and beaches by making highway overpasses too low for public transit vehicles to pass under them, there were also lots of facts included here that had nothing to do with travel, and were just serving as a primer on why black people have been socially and economically limited throughout American history. Most of the material in here was really good, so I don't want to criticize the author for providing important educational background for people who aren't familiar with these issues. Still, I believe that this book would have been much stronger if she had chosen between actually focusing on the Green Book and putting together a general primer on systemic racism. I was here for "The Green Book & Roots of Black Travel in America," not for pages and pages of explanation, issues, and anecdotes that had nothing to do with either of these things. Also, the author gets preachy on multiple occasions, providing social commentary instead of documenting history. I enjoyed the personal elements of the book when she shared stories about her stepfather's experiences with travel, and I appreciate the ways that she showed how she learned and grew throughout researching this project, coming to a deeper understanding of survival tactics and thought processes that once just seemed paranoid to her. However, some of the personal elements of the book weakened it, because she frequently soap-boxed about current issues and related tangents from her specific political perspective, rather than talking about the Green Book and the roots of black travel in America. Even when she is directly focused on the advertised topic of this book, it still wasn't everything that I wanted. Sometimes, when she wrote about a former Green Book location, she shared specific anecdotes about people's experiences there, but at other times, she just listed various black luminaries who had visited that hotel or eaten at that restaurant. This may truly have been all the information that she had access to, but I was interested in a more story-driven approach to the subject, and I wanted to know about family trips and business travel, not who ate or slept where, or how an area has been gentrified since. At the end of the book, the author shares a photo-illustrated directory of locations advertised in the Green Book that still exist. I enjoyed looking through this, but I had skimmed a lot to get to this point, because this is a very long book. It could have been cut down to be so much shorter without all of the elements that weakened it, and even though I learned a great deal and know that this was worth my time, it isn't something that I would strongly recommend. Someone who isn't familiar with black history in America may want and need all of the extensive background information that the author includes, but for someone who specifically wants to learn about the Green Book, this is best read by skimming the extraneous parts.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Barb

    I first learned about The Green Book from a picture book I borrowed from the library to read to my kids when they were little. The whole idea that people of color needed something like The Green Book, to be safe driving in America, is...sad, awful, horrible, and unfortunately necessary. I'm so glad they had it. What an incredible effort Victor and Alma Green put into making The Green Book a comprehensive guide. And this book, this look at The Green Book, 'Overground Railroad', is an amazing trib I first learned about The Green Book from a picture book I borrowed from the library to read to my kids when they were little. The whole idea that people of color needed something like The Green Book, to be safe driving in America, is...sad, awful, horrible, and unfortunately necessary. I'm so glad they had it. What an incredible effort Victor and Alma Green put into making The Green Book a comprehensive guide. And this book, this look at The Green Book, 'Overground Railroad', is an amazing tribute to the Greens and their work but also an enlightening examination of the awful hatred of racism. It really is a must read. I loved this book, even while it was bringing me to tears. I especially love the photos Candacy Taylor included. I would strongly encourage Social Studies teachers to get a copy for their classroom. The format of this book makes it very accessable to young people and adult readers who might not typically (or willingly) pick up a work of non-fiction. There are full color photos, illustrations, as well as excerpts and black and white photos from the original Green Book. Movie stars, rock stars, jazz greats, and sports heros all make their way into the book. One of my favorite stories is that of Leah Chase, who ran the Dooky Chase restaurant in New Orleans, for over seventy years. There's a photo of her in the kitchen at the restaurant and her bright personality shines through. I love the story about her gumbo. Not going to spoil it, read it yourself. This one is a favorite that goes on the keeper shelf. I was going to borrow it from the library but when I learned it had photographs I decided to buy it instead. I'm glad that I did. This is a book to peruse, dip into, and flip back and forth in, as you're reading. This one gets counted for the 2020 Book Bingo square 'A Book That Scares You'.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This was a great examination of the extent of the racial terrorism black people had to face through well into the 20th Century. Too many people think their hardships ended when slavery did, and nothing could be further from the truth. The author uses the Green Book as a guide to take us through the decades of "The Greatest Generation" and beyond to show us exactly how opposite of "great" this time period was for black people. Segregation, discrimination and racial violence were still rampant for This was a great examination of the extent of the racial terrorism black people had to face through well into the 20th Century. Too many people think their hardships ended when slavery did, and nothing could be further from the truth. The author uses the Green Book as a guide to take us through the decades of "The Greatest Generation" and beyond to show us exactly how opposite of "great" this time period was for black people. Segregation, discrimination and racial violence were still rampant for DECADES during this so called "Greatest Generation". The atrocities and literal murders taking place during this time period make that label so deeply ironic to me. So much of this is still a problem today and we still have so far to go. This is a great read to help fill in the blanks that the white supremacist public education system in this country has gone to great lengths to ignore and erase. I'll never get over learning about every single atrocity committed during the Holocaust in school, but never talking about the atrocities happening in our very own country at the exact same time and beyond.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I honestly think I favor reading nonfiction some days over jumping into a well-written fantasy novel. Civil Rights in America remains one of my favorite topics to learn about because you will never reach the end of all the lives and events that transpired. This is primarily because segregation and Jim Crow continually impact the country, despite legal and cultural shifts every few years. Overground Railroad delves deep into the history of the Green Book, an African American guide to travel and e I honestly think I favor reading nonfiction some days over jumping into a well-written fantasy novel. Civil Rights in America remains one of my favorite topics to learn about because you will never reach the end of all the lives and events that transpired. This is primarily because segregation and Jim Crow continually impact the country, despite legal and cultural shifts every few years. Overground Railroad delves deep into the history of the Green Book, an African American guide to travel and establishments open to their patronage from 1936 to 1966. There is so much history embedded with its publication that readers who are interested in any part of American history will likely find some enjoyment out of reading this well-researched analysis of African American life and travel within the United States for the last ninety years. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    This book is more than just a review of what the Green Book was and the role it played in combating racism and giving dignity to black travelers. It also examines that history against current events, discussing the dismantling of those same black communities and businesses due to mass incarceration, as well as how, despite legal advances, black people are still not safe to travel, eat, and drive in safety. An excellent look at how history is never over and is never really past.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nicki

    Picked up in my quest to learn more about experiences outside my own. Heartbreaking overview of what it was like to travel as a black person or family in the early to mid 20th century. The Green Book was published between 1936 and 1966, and served as a guide to establishments around the country that were safe and friendly to black travelers. It not only included hotels, restaurants, and entertainment, but also hair dressers, mechanics, tailors, insurance salesmen, as well as the locations of gue Picked up in my quest to learn more about experiences outside my own. Heartbreaking overview of what it was like to travel as a black person or family in the early to mid 20th century. The Green Book was published between 1936 and 1966, and served as a guide to establishments around the country that were safe and friendly to black travelers. It not only included hotels, restaurants, and entertainment, but also hair dressers, mechanics, tailors, insurance salesmen, as well as the locations of guest houses - private homes that rented out rooms in areas where hotels were not friendly to black customers. The book is full of stories of the hardships black travelers faced. For example, in many areas it was illegal for black motorists to pass white motorists. The country was full of "sundown towns", which did not allow black people to stay overnight or even drive through the town after sundown. Many black families traveled with props (such as chauffeur caps) because when they were (inevitably) stopped by white policemen, the police would not believe that the black family had purchased and owned the car they were driving. There was a case of a man sent to court for not carrying liability insurance on his car. He told the (white) judge that no companies would insure him because he was black. The judge was skeptical but decided to do a little investigating. He was astonished to find that of the almost 50 insurance companies he called, only four would insure black motorists. What was even more heartbreaking is that many of these same problems still exist today. The NAACP issued a travel advisory in 2017 (yes, 2017!) for the entire state of Missouri, warning black travelers to use extreme caution when in the state, citing racial discrimination events as well as state government policies unfriendly to black people. The author traveled around the US to many of the sites listed in the Green Book to find out what became of them. She found that after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many black travelers began using white-owned services that had been denied them before. While this was a step forward for equal rights, it meant that many of the thriving black businesses that had been the only option for black travelers before lost much of their customer base. Most closed for good not long after the Civil Rights Act. The author says "We got what we wanted, but we lost what we had". She found that most of these sites - so important to the black history and culture of the early decades of the century - had been knocked down and paved over, or had fallen into disrepair after the neighborhoods around them crumbled. The history is literally being lost daily. This is a book I would highly recommend to anyone and everyone.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jazzy Lemon

    Imagine wanting to go on a trip and having to pack petrol, lots of food, blankets, pillows, towels, water for drinking and washing... and not knowing where it was SAFE for you to stop. Could you buy petrol? Food? Use the toilet? For several decades the Green Book listed safe places for black people to travel in America and was a staple no one left home without. This is a history of the book Victor Hugo Green envisioned and printed for decades. Now there is no Green Book, and yet it is still unsa Imagine wanting to go on a trip and having to pack petrol, lots of food, blankets, pillows, towels, water for drinking and washing... and not knowing where it was SAFE for you to stop. Could you buy petrol? Food? Use the toilet? For several decades the Green Book listed safe places for black people to travel in America and was a staple no one left home without. This is a history of the book Victor Hugo Green envisioned and printed for decades. Now there is no Green Book, and yet it is still unsafe to be black and live in America, and what can be done about it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sherrese Holder

    I found this book well written and informative. I plan on getting the children's version and teaching it as a part of our homeschool curriculum. I found this book well written and informative. I plan on getting the children's version and teaching it as a part of our homeschool curriculum.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jerrika Rhone

    DNF @ 33%- Very little about the green book and more about Jim Crow.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This book should be SOLD OUT everywhere. If you are interested in Geography, History, Culture, and Social Justice, this book weaves all of these as it covers every edition of the Green Book from 1936 to 1967. The history of the Green Book reflects the history of the US during those decades.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dominique

    4.5 stars. Extremely interesting & quite frankly, a necessary book that everyone should have to read. I really didn’t know much of anything about the Green Book until I looked it up upon hearing there was going to be a movie with the same title a couple years back. It completely took me by surprise, because I hadn’t ever thought about how bad traveling must have been for Blacks back then - though given our terrible history, I know I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was. I just had no idea. 4.5 stars. Extremely interesting & quite frankly, a necessary book that everyone should have to read. I really didn’t know much of anything about the Green Book until I looked it up upon hearing there was going to be a movie with the same title a couple years back. It completely took me by surprise, because I hadn’t ever thought about how bad traveling must have been for Blacks back then - though given our terrible history, I know I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was. I just had no idea. This book really delves into just HOW bad it was and how necessary the Green Book was for Black travelers. I listened to the audiobook version & the narrator, Lisa Reneé Pitts did an incredible job. But I also borrowed the e-book version from the library, which I highly suggest if you choose to read this book - there are so many amazing pictures! Thank you to Tantor Audio & NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Extremely well researched and written in a way that felt conversational, this book should be essential reading. The photos included are worth the purchase alone (my ARC copy only provided black and white photos but the finished book prints in full color) as there are many. There is also a site tour guide for buildings and former sites that were included in the Green Book, although many are gone now.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    There is much to appreciate in this book, but frankly, it's a bit of a mess. It's not a professionally written history book. In the end, I wasn't sure if the project of documenting The Green Book prompted the author's diversion of focus away from it, or if it was the other way around, the project was used as a structure to get at the issues she really wanted to talk about all along. What did I appreciate? Certainly, reading about a number of "facilities" from the not so distant past that provide There is much to appreciate in this book, but frankly, it's a bit of a mess. It's not a professionally written history book. In the end, I wasn't sure if the project of documenting The Green Book prompted the author's diversion of focus away from it, or if it was the other way around, the project was used as a structure to get at the issues she really wanted to talk about all along. What did I appreciate? Certainly, reading about a number of "facilities" from the not so distant past that provided comfort and safety to those of America who had no expectation of getting what all Americans should be able to get regardless of their race. This book certainly gives much depth to what a white reader, and maybe even some younger black readers, might have first been introduced to in the recent movie, Green Book. A dimension of the social dynamics that even made The Green Book necessary in the first place were the "sundown towns" in which blacks were banned from being in for any reason after sundown. Not just on the other side of the tracks, so to speak, but not in town at all. This book makes it perfectly clear this was not an issue only in Southern states, as the movie mentioned earlier might suggest. It's in a chapter about Route 66, the notable U.S. highway where it became crystal clear to me how much my own connection to past racist towns was so obvious. To start, my younger brother was born in a former sundown town in Illinois. My older brother went to college in a different town where barbershops had been segregated. My wife was born in another town where the Klu Klux Klan had held cross-burning rallies in a popular tourist location, and a cousin lives in a former sundown town in California. None of these places were in former Confederate states. My, my, weren't we white folks wide spread in our American racism? On the negative side, there are a number of little things -- which I will not itemize here -- that show a lack of professionalism in producing this book, but the one that really floored me was the author's error on knowing when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and when Richard Nixon took office as U.S. president. I mean google it, why not, even if you weren't alive yet, like I was. Ultimately, that leads me to the final impression I ended up with, that the author approaches the information she has on issues very much like too many people on social media do, i.e. not knowing what they don't know, but assuming they know all that is needed to be known.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    Not what I expected. I wanted to learn more about the places in The Green Book and the TRAVELING experiences during the times of its publication. There was some of that but lots more personal (bitter) opinions and political viewpoints by the author.

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