Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
Newly moved to Detroit Suburbs
on December 6, 2013
I wish I could give this book 4.5 stars, but I feel that it is closer to a 5, so I am giving it that.
Honestly, had I not moved to a city near Detroit and seen it for myself I wouldn't believe this book. I didn't believe half the things that people said about the city in general, thinking that it was a sensationalized darling of the media. I'm from a big city, and have seen a good share of them-and Detroit is like nothing I've seen before. Empty skyscrapers and high rises, some beautifully structured, gape at you, yet many of the city's cultural institutions are open and uniquely worth a visit. Huge mansions are available for the standard price of a house in Los Angeles and regular homes are available for less than a laser printer, while new condominiums are being built and sold for the same price as the historic mansions. That's in the city proper, the only part I've visited. In the living part of downtown, the new Whole Foods proudly advertises itself.
This book contains obviously contains many years of research on the history of Detroit, as well as a lot of interesting interviews and concepts. It's far from a coolly written academic text, being infused with the descriptions and opinions of the author who is often times a wry commentator and, in fact, grew up in the city himself. It's an extremely interesting, up-to-date, and raw read. In fact, I would have given it an outright five had I not disagree with a couple points regarding his treatment of racial politics, which he generally handles well throughout the book. As is widely known, Detroit's history is intertwined with the history of race in this country, and it is essential to discuss this in any book on the city-the discussions in the book about the riots are particularly interesting-and attempting to avoid controversy by avoiding the topic would be to miss a large part of the city's culture and evolution. However, I disagree with his treatment of a particular mayor. He defends him by virtue of his charisma and the continued interest of the city in him-which is obviously sort of like people's interest in reality TV-but never shows any reason why the hatred of him within the suburbs/city is connected to racial politics. Indeed, stealing, gang politics, and the other "interesting" activities he engaged in are more than enough to make people hate him, no matter his persona.
But, this one topic out of many aside, I definitely recommend this book.