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Detroit: An American Autopsy Hardcover – February 7, 2013
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After a career as a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter with the New York Times, LeDuff answered the longing to return to his roots in Detroit, a city that was once at the forefront of American industry and growth. What he returned to was a city now more famous for its corruption and decay. LeDuff reprises the shenanigans of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and city councilwoman Monica Conyers and others before the slow-moving justice process caught up with them. Among the other signs of decay: a police department so broke that cops take the bus to crime scenes and a fire department so bereft it sells its brass poles as scrap. He reports on surreptitious meetings with police officers to counter rosy reports of declining crime rates. He also reports on the personal toll the city’s decline has taken on its citizens, including his own family, with grim stories of his brothers’ chronic unemployment and his sister’s and niece’s deaths from drug overdoses. With the emotions of personal connection and the clear-eyed detachment of a reporter, LeDuff examines what Detroit’s decline means for other American cities. --Vanessa Bush
"LeDuff returns, by the books end, to the bar where his sister was last seen, only to find it unrecognizable. A black man outside explains the changes. 'they trying to put something nice up' in this hellhole he says, speaking of the bar specifically, though his words spread across the city and pay tribute, in equal measure, to its dreamers, its pessimists and to those, resigned and wrung out, who love it despite all. 'Can't say it's working. But what you gonna do? You ain’t gonna be reincarnated, so you got to do the best you can with the moment you got. Do the best you can and try to be good.' LeDuff has done his best, and his book is better than good."
—Paul Clemens, New York Times Book Review
"One cannot read Mr. LeDuff's amalgam of memoir and reportage and not be shaken by the cold eye he casts on hard truths... A little gonzo, a little gumshoe, some gawker, some good-Samaritan—it is hard to ignore reporting like Mr. LeDuff's."
—The Wall Street Journal
“Pultizer-Prize-winning journalist LeDuff (Work and Other Sins) delivers an edgy portrait of the decline, destruction, and possible redemption of his hometown…LeDuff writes with honesty and compassion about a city that’s destroying itself–and breaking his heart.”
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“A book full of both literary grace and hard-won world-weariness…. Iggy Pop meets Jim Carroll and Charles Bukowski”
“This is our pick for a sleeper nonfiction hit next year. Charlie LeDuff is a remarkable journalist, and this book is filled with incredible writing as he witnesses his home city crumble through neglect and corruption.”
“What to do when you’re a reporter and your native city is rotting away? If you’re LeDuff, you leave The New York Times and head into the wreckage to ride with firemen, hang with the corrupt pols, and retrace your own family’s sad steps through drugs. Others have written well about the city, but none with the visceral anger, the hair-tearing frustration, and the hungry humanity of LeDuff.”
Advance Praise for Detroit:
"You wouldn't think a book about the stinking decay of the American dream could be this engaging, this irreverent, this laugh-at-loud funny. But not everyone can write like Charlie LeDuff. I'm tempted to say he's the writer for our desperate times the way Steinbeck and Orwell were for other people's desperate times, except he's such an original he's like no one but himself."
—Alexandra Fuller, author of Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness and Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
"Charlie LeDuff is a drunkard, a blowhard, a Fox News Reporter -- and a brilliant writer. Detroit is full of righteous anger and heartbreaking details. It's also funny as hell. Hunter S. Thompson would've loved every page of this book."
—Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation and Reefer Madness
"In Detroit: An American Autopsy, Charlie LeDuff brings alive the reality of our beloved city. The city where I was shot at eight times during my twenty six year police career. Yet, Detroit has survived in spite of corruption, political ineptness, poor education, and decades of unemployment. Detroit: An American Autopsy is a must read for all of America."
—Detroit Police Chief Ike McKinnon (retired); Associate Professor of Education, University of Detroit Mercy
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In the light of our current political climate, the fate of these people in the cities has an impact that should resonate with all of us comfortably ensconced in the suburbs. We need to listen to these voices, and, we as a people should take action to solve it.
In the best tradition of journalists who use fiction techniques to bring their stories alive, Charlie LeDuff makes you feel as if you are right there, on these streets, meeting these people and getting a vivid sense of what they're experiencing. Make no mistake: LeDuff is not interested in covering the positive things that are happening in Detroit right now (and yes, there are many positive developments). That's not his beat. I'm guessing that it doesn't inspire him the way the down-and-outers do. LeDuff introduces you to people you wouldn't want to meet outside of the pages of a book: dangerous criminals, crooked politicians and people so caught in the grip of poverty, violent crime and hopelessness that their pain is hard to think about.
LeDuff is no objective journalist; he inserts himself into his stories, interacting with the people he's supposed to be covering, giving himself a role. There is an ego at work here, but it's what gives his writing such a strong, distinctive voice. He mercilessly turns his attention on his own family's troubles as well, letting us in on broken relationships, substance abusers and a surprise bit of genealogy.
You don't have to be a Detroiter to find this book compelling. It's riveting. It's also a cautionary tale. The circumstances that have brought Detroit to its present condition exist in other cities. The outsourcing of industrial jobs, shifting demographics and government corruption have altered great swaths of the American landscape. Detroit holds an uncomfortable mirror up to America - and Charlie LeDuff, with this book, brings that mirror even closer.
I have always had an interest in Detroit and how a major American city and manufacturing powerhouse can collapse. Charlie gives an inside look at what killed Detroit. He also gives insight into his own life and what Detroit means to him.
This book reminded me of sitting across the table from your best friend at a bar about 8 beers into the conversation. All the veneer is off when you click down that 7th long-neck on the Formica and really talk trash about the wretches you've encountered. The kind of conversation where you both wind up raging or crying, but it's impossible to walk away from the table with anything left in your guts except the beer and popcorn. You've spilled all the rest and you're emotionally drained.
That's what Charlie has done in this book about the decline of Detroit.
He's the best of the genre and it's a blessing to read his work. Gritty, profane, loud, angry, and honest. Thanks, Mr. LeDuff for buying the 5th round.
Most recent customer reviews
Love Charlie LeDuff, he's from my hometown and I miss him as one of our reporter's!!Read more