Oh if only all books that contained photographic narratives were this good! The author did his homework for this book and clearly loves the subject. I was born in the city of Detroit and I had no idea so many of these structures and public works the author discusses and highlites even existed!
So a couple of things:
Well written and interesting with relevance to past and current events. Layout of the book is well done making it easy to read and understand the reference point(s) for the photography. The writing/authoring is well done. It does not bemoan progress or bellyache about current and past events/bureaucracy. Focused well on the "why" and history of the subjects. The book did not leave any huge logical gaps like many other pictorial historical coffee table books (time and logic gaps are typical in many other historical reference books as they try or tend to rely on the pictures for the logic and take a detour or shortcut with the research). To be fair, this really isn't a coffee table book although I wouldn't exclude it for that purpose. I would put it somewhere between a chronicle of many key public projects, architectural works of art and lost areas of the city and a historical reference and a sort of guide for the city of Detroit.
Lastly, because the book is well written, very well laid out and the photography is used as a reference point and a punctuation for the subjects, one cannot help but feel sad at the tremendous human loss of creativity, sense of community and sense of history with the gradual and not so gradual erosion of Detroit. Clearly it was a city to be reckoned with not unlike New York, Chicago, or LA. However with a confluence of events, decisions and changing policies and societies, Detroit has failed badly. It's hard to tell whether this book is going to merely be an epitaph or obituary of a once great city or a greeting card for a city that could be great once again (remember - Detroit is a substantial city on a major water way, it's a huge port that borders on another country and has a substantial land mass and access to fresh water on 3 of its four borders). It is still important.
Regardless, it is absolutely worth a read and a look. The book is worth every penny.
I am a professor of history and find this book to be excellent and to fill a need. I remember Detroit in the 1940's and this book recaptures its spirit and the nature of its architecture. The chapter on the D&C Liner City of Detroit III is superb, and does a real service. . Too few people know about this most magnificent of all the steamers that ever sailed the Lakes.