Teardown by Gordon Young
Memoir of a Vanishing City

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Even casual readers who have no experience with Rust Belt cities or real estate investment will find Teardown compelling and worth their attention.
-Washington Independent Review of Books

Synopsis

After living in San Francisco for 15 years, journalist Gordon Young found himself yearning for his Rust Belt hometown: Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors and "star" of the Michael Moore documentary Roger & Me. Hoping to rediscover and help a place that once boasted one of the world’s highest per capita income levels, but is now one of the country's most impoverished and dangerous cities, he returned to Flint with the intention of buying a house. What he found was a place of stark contrasts and dramatic stories, where an exotic dancer can afford a lavish mansion, speculators scoop up cheap houses by the dozen on eBay, and arson is often the quickest route to neighborhood beautification.

Skillfully blending personal memoir, historical inquiry, and interviews with Flint residents, Young constructs a vibrant tale of a once-thriving city still fighting—despite overwhelming odds—to rise from the ashes. He befriends a rag-tag collection of urban homesteaders and die-hard locals who refuse to give up as they try to transform Flint into a smaller, greener town that offers lessons for cities all over the world. Hard-hitting, insightful, and often painfully funny, Teardown reminds us that cities are ultimately defined by people, not politics or economics.
 

About Gordon Young

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Gordon Young grew up in Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors, where his accomplishments included learning to parallel park the family’s massive Buick Electra 225. After reaching an uneasy truce with the nuns in the local Catholic school system, he went on to study journalism at the University of Missouri and English literature at the University of Nottingham. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Utne Reader, and numerous other publications. Young has published Flint Expatriates, a blog for the long-lost residents of the Vehicle City, since 2007. He is a senior lecturer in the Communication Department at Santa Clara University and lives in San Francisco.
 
Published June 28, 2013 by University of California Press. 301 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Teardown
All: 6 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Below average
on Jun 09 2013

Despite fascinating glimpses of the city’s old bar culture and its present politics, only die-hard Flintoids will stay with this story to the end. Well-written but lacks coherence.

Read Full Review of Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishi... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Above average
Reviewed by Anon on Jul 15 2013

Young shines a spotlight on a broken city and the efforts of those desperate to save it, but this is also the story of a man confronting a crisis of identity and finding hope where there seemed to be none.

Read Full Review of Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishi... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Washington Independent Review of Books

Good
Reviewed by Jim Schulman on Jul 26 2013

Even casual readers who have no experience with Rust Belt cities or real estate investment will find Teardown compelling and worth their attention.

Read Full Review of Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishi...

Lost Coast Review

Above average
Reviewed by Randall Mawer on Jul 20 2013

The style of Teardown is Rolling-Stone-style journalism, relatively informal, strongly first person, loosely organized.

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Counter Punch

Good
Reviewed by MICHAEL DONNELLY on Jul 15 2013

Gordon Young’s story, while also full of good humor, gets down to the nitty-gritty of current life in the dangerous, post-industrial, shrinking city

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Next City

Good
Reviewed by Brady Dale on Jul 03 2013

Young is at his best describing the emotional stakes for the city he calls home. In that way, it’s a lot like Roger & Me by Michael Moore

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GeeWhy 19 Sep 2013

Rated the book as 5 out of 5

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