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The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton Studies in American Politics: Historical, International, and Comparative Perspectives) With a New preface by the author Edition

25 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691121864
ISBN-10: 0691121869
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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 1998 Bancroft Prize in American History

Winner of the 1997 Philip Taft Prize in Labor History

Winner of the 1996 President's Book Award, Social Science History Association

Winner of the 1997 Best Book in North American Urban History Award, Urban History Association

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1997

Praise for Princeton's previous edition:"[Sugrue's] disciplined historical engagement with a complex, often inglorious, past offers a compelling model for understanding how race and the Rust Belt converged to create the current impasse."--America

Praise for Princeton's previous edition: "A splendid book that does no less than transform our understanding of United States history after 1940."--Labor History

About the Author

Thomas J. Sugrue is Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Professor of History and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Studies in American Politics: Historical, International, and Comparative Perspectives
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; With a New preface by the author edition (August 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691121869
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691121864
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lionel S. Taylor on September 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since Detroit declared bankruptcy there have been all manner of reasons put forward as to why this happened. Everything from political incompetence and corruption to failed liberal policies and the decline of the industrial sector in the United States. This book argues that all of these theories are both right and wrong and that in many respects, Detroit was set up to be a poster child of urban rust belt decay decades ago. The author starts with Detroit during WWII at its height. Event then he argues that the seeds of the eventual troubles were evident. One reason is the housing patterns in the city. Detroit had a sever shortage of housing during the war but due to racist policies for housing, high density apartments were not constructed due to fears that they would house the growing black population in the city that was being attracted in due to high paying defense jobs. Instead what was built was a series of low density neighborhoods that consisted of white only single family houses. The black population was left in horribly overcrowded substandard housing in certain parts of the inner city. This caused the city to sprawl out for miles and to have a large number of aging houses that would begin to be abandoned with the move to the suburbs and the decline in the city's population in subsequent decades. Detroit would eventually be hemmed in by surrounding suburbs that filled up with a white flight population that followed industry that was leaving the city center to get away from aging industrial infrastructure and unions. The city proper would be left industry less with a mostly black population that due to discrimination was not allowed t move out to the suburbs in the same way and would have fewer and fewer job opportunities in the city.Read more ›
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Daniel A. Stone on August 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
In 2005, Detroit looks more like a city awaiting reconstruction after a series of aerial bomber raids than the dynamo of manufacturing it was at the close of the Second World War. The combinations of white flight, race riots, massive deindustrialization by the automotive industry and the industries attached to it coupled with chronic unemployment and discrimination and racism in nearly every facet of life did a great a deal to make Detroit the wasteland it is today.

Thomas J. Sugrue's short study of Detroit, from the late 1930's through the 1970's is an attempt to understand the structure of Detroit's decline in racial, political, economic, and sometimes spatial terms. Through analysis of all these factors, Sugrue creates a cogent explanation of why so many formerly industrial cities of the United States are increasingly poorer, blacker, and more hopeless about their future with every passing year.

Sugrue sees the problems of Detroit stemming from a multiplicity of conscious and unconscious decisions made on the part of local and national government officials, corporate boards, union leadership, neighborhood associations, and self-interested individuals in day to day life. This is nothing new in the study of post-war urban and industrial decline. What is new, and rather eye opening, is that Sugrue traces the beginnings of Detroit's economic woes to be nearly co-terminus with the war and not after the disastrous riot of 1967. This analysis is incredibly important for understanding how a massive black underclass with only minimal connections to the job market came into existence, and expanded, in the 1950's.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By wjb VINE VOICE on February 22, 2013
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The after effects of racism and inequality is something that all of us human beings, regardless of skin color or station in life, will have to deal with. When you take away a man's right to live where he pleases, or keeps him from earning a living and be able to take care of his family, when you thwart his every attempt to rise above his circumstances and try to keep him where you believe he should be, you will have to deal with the consequences. Sustained mistreatment breeds anger that seethes and becomes consuming. The adject racism was too much to read about at times. To think that people have such a high opinion of themselves where they feel justified to discriminate against a whole culture of people is mind-boggling. The decline of Detroit is just the beginning. I always believed that America could be so much greater if people would realize that we are all human beings. We all think the same, we all want the same things - safe neighborhoods, safe schools, no violence, shelter, access to healthcare, good food and good paying jobs to take care of our families and educate our children. The city of Detroit is a sad reminder that man is its own worse enemy. I had wondered for years what exactly happened to cause such a vibrant city like Detroit to now look like a small third world country within the United States. I understand it now and it is so sad. America can do so much better.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Maya on June 9, 2013
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I had to buy this book for my Race and the Law class at my law school. It was very informative and I learned a lot more than I thought I would. It provides you with so much information that you could basically give a informational tour of Detroit, solely based on reading this book.
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