The Last Days of Detroit by Mark Binelli

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It is a story of extremes, mapped out by a restrained, clear-headed guide who loves the city as much as he is baffled by it. The book is sprawling in parts as befits its subject, and the most enthralling parts are the most journalistic...
-Guardian

Synopsis

By the end of the nineteenth century, Detroit, founded by the French as a fur-trading post, was thriving. In 1913 Henry Ford began mass-producing cars at his Model T plant, transforming the area into the Silicon Valley of its day. By 1920 it was the fourth largest city in America and by the mid-1950s General Motors had become the single biggest employer on earth. Here indeed was 'the most modern city in the world, the city of tomorrow'. But by the time Berry Gordy founded Motown Records in 1960 - thereby creating twentieth-century Detroit's other great assembly line - the cracks were already beginning to show: big industry was looking elsewhere for cheaper sites, cheaper labour and better tax breaks; urban planning was in meltdown; corruption was rife; racial tensions were running high. The 1967 riots - at the time the worst in US history - left 43 dead, more than 7,000 arrested and 3,000 buildings destroyed. Detroit, a former beacon of the capitalist dream, had degenerated into an urban wilderness where unemployment ran at 50 per cent. With more guns in the city than people, the murder rate was the highest in America - three times that of New York. Mark Binelli returned to live in his native Detroit after a break of many years. He tells the story of the boom and the bust - and of the new society to be found emerging from the debris: Detroit with its urban farms and vibrant arts scene; Detroit as a laboratory for the post-industrial, post-recession world. Here's what an iconic rust-belt city now looks like and how it might transform and regenerate itself in the twenty-first century.
 

About Mark Binelli

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Mark Binelli grew up in Detroit. He graduated from the University of Michigan and received an MFA from Columbia University. He writes for Rolling Stone magazine. He is the author of the novel Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die!
 
Published January 1, 2013 by London: Bodley Head 2013..
Genres: History.
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Critic reviews for The Last Days of Detroit
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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Sean O'Hagan on Jan 13 2013

It is a story of extremes, mapped out by a restrained, clear-headed guide who loves the city as much as he is baffled by it. The book is sprawling in parts as befits its subject, and the most enthralling parts are the most journalistic...

Read Full Review of The Last Days of Detroit | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Andy Beckett on Jan 04 2013

Initially, this volume reads less like a book than a good book proposal, authoritative but self-conscious, switching restlessly between past and present, scene-setting and summary, energetic promotion of the topic at hand...

Read Full Review of The Last Days of Detroit | See more reviews from Guardian

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