Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was the 'black travel guide to America,' offering tips to African Americans for safely navigating the nation's highways and byways during the virulently racist Jim Crow era. Here Taylor traces the history of the Green Book—traveling and visiting some of its listed stops—and explores how we arrived at our present historical moment that is still so rife with racial tension.
Taylor assiduously retraces the Green Book’s history ... This was a grueling, faith-testing journey of loss and heartbreak that enlarges and shapes her book’s vision ... In scope and tone, Overground Railroad recalls Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns ... Taylor creates a vivid, multi-voiced travelogue, drawing on interviews, archival documents and newspaper accounts. Historic photographs provide context. Her contemporary images drawn from her travels...also play a dynamic, before-and-after role in storytelling. At its center, the book is a nuanced commentary of how black bodies have been monitored, censured or violated, and it compellingly pulls readers into the current news cycle.
... [an] electrifying deep dive into the history of the Green Book ... amazing ...Taylor generated so much fascinating material in working on this book ... Overground Railroad is an eye-opening, deeply moving social history of American segregation and black migration during the middle years of the 20th century.
... make[s] powerfully clear the magnitude of the injustices and harrowing encounters endured by African-Americans traveling by 'open' road, as well as of their quiet acts of rebellion and protest, which went far beyond having to find alternative places to eat, sleep and buy gas ... deeply researched ... a fascinating history of black travel as chronicled in the Green Book, the popular and essential guidebook for African-Americans founded by Victor Green in 1936 ... equally the story of vital black businesses that became safe havens and refuges along 'lonely stretches of America’s perilously empty roads' .. Taylor is not interested in presenting the Green Book as a time capsule. She wants to situate it within America’s 'ongoing struggle with race and social mobility,' and makes the disheartening yet persuasive argument that the problems African-Americans face today are 'arguably just as debilitating and deadly as the problems the Green Book helped black people avoid more than 80 years ago.' To prove her point, in an extraordinary feat of research, Taylor went on a nearly 40,000-mile road trip to visit 5,000 Green Book sites and photograph many of them.