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Land of Hope

Land of Hope by James R. Grossman explores the migration of blacks to the north during, and immediately following, World War I.  Grossman focuses on migration to Chicago because it was the focal point of the northward migration.  This book pursues the subject in a way different then most books have in the past.  In the past black migration was examined to show both the changes in a labor market during wartime or to illustrate that a major cause of ghettos in the north and race relation problems was black migration. Land of Hope, on the other hand, endeavors to explore this Great Migration from the viewpoint of those involved.  Land of HopeIt mainly focuses on the adjustments to an industrialized city and what they believed their place was in the new city. While an author illustrates a valid point that the dreams of the black Americans were dashed once they realized that the Northern cities such as Chicago were not ready to welcome them, he goes on to blame capitalism for the failure of black assimilation. Therefore, I do not agree with James R. Grossman and the premise of Land of Hope.

There are several interesting aspects of the book Land of Hope when one examines it.  The first interesting aspect is the continuing theme of the amazed feeling at the new freedoms when compared to their lives in the south, and then in most cases, the eventual understanding that despite many differences there was still racism in the north.  For example many blacks experienced amazement at being able to simply sit next to a white on a bus without being put down or insulted or asked to move.  Despite the progressiveness of the North, there were still many obstacles to success for blacks that migrated to the North.

In the body of the book Grossman seems to do an excellent job of presenting his ideas in a fair manner.  He presents the advantages and benefits to the black for the northward migration as well as showing the negatives and many problems still faced.  He doesn't focus only on the negative as many would. It is towards the end of the book that Grossman reveals his weakness in drawing a conclusion on why the Black migration to the North was disappointing. Grossman concludes that dreams, which inspired the migration, were not fulfilled because of continued oppression as well as "failure of industrial capitalism to distribute its prosperity as broadly as the migrants had expected". I disagree with this conclusion that capitalism was one of the two major reasons that many dreams fell short.

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