Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Origins of the Urban Crisis Hardcover – November 25, 1996
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
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 AcademicTitles for 1997
"In this important new history of post-World War II Detroit, Sugrue solidly refutes conservative theories about welfare dependency and deepens liberal thinking about the underlying causes of urban poverty."--Jim McNeil, In These Times
"[A] first-rate account. . . . With insight and elegance, Sugrue describes the street-by-street warfare to maintain housing values against the perceived encroachment of blacks trying desperately to escape the underbuilt and overcrowded slums."--Choice
"Perhaps by offering a clearer picture of how the urban crisis began, Sugrue brings us a little closer to finding a way to end it."--Jim McNeill, In These Times
From the Back Cover
"This superb study offers a richly detailed account of the rise and fall of twentieth-century Detroit.... Must reading for ... everyone concerned about the current urban crisis."--Jacqueline Jones, author of The Dispossessed: America's Underclass from the Civil War to the Present
"Sugrue's incredibly rich, nuanced, multilayered account of the transformation of Detroit provides the historical perspective missing in virtually all accounts of the crisis ravaging today's inner cities."--Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This is a fantastic read and it is well researched. It is a must read for those interested in civil rights, labor history, and post-war history.
You dont have to agree with all of his politics but his conclusions for the most part are spot on.
Fantastic read on labor migration.
One of the good ones.
Being a social service researcher, I was disappointed in the relative lack of statistical rigor. Correlation often seems to be confused with causation, and in some places statistics are provided without context. For example, in one place the author notes that "of twelve proposed public housing sites in Detroit in the 1940s, only three were built"- yes, but these were just "proposed" projects, how does that rate compare to urban planning at large? In another place "37,382 black families and 56,758 white families applied for public housing. 41 percent of white applicants and only 24 percent of black applicants made it onto the waiting list"- yes, but is race the only variable here or could there other factors involved? Considering that this book probably didn't aspire to be a controlled trial or formal research study, though, those flaws can be forgiven, and in fact aren't so bad compared to most other books of its kind.
Overall, Sugrue clearly and convincingly makes the argument that the problems of Detroit today do not reflect inherent limitations of its current residents, but rather stem from "interconnected forces of race, residence, discrimination, and industrial decline, the consequences of a troubled and still unresolved past." He provides us with a powerful argument against those who say, "why don't they just get a job" by providing a detailed history of the forces of decentralization, deindustrialization, and automation stripping away the lowest rung of the economic ladder, chiefly low skill automotive jobs not requiring literacy. He attributes the burgeoning "alternative economy of gambling, drugs, and prostitution" to this lost economy. Most of us don't see this dynamic, but they should.
Though the work focuses primarily on describing policy and trends, it's at its most powerful when it's anecdotal. For example, the most enduring image for me is that of the presumably well-intentioned Easby Wilson becoming the first black in an all-white neighborhood, only to see his home repeatedly vandalized and his family harassed by literally an all-ages mob of neighbors.
Sugrue focuses on housing, employment and, to a lesser extent, politics, to illustrate the disintegration of Detroit. African-Americans flocked to the city around the time of WWII for the chance to escape Jim Crow discrimination and find employment in Detroit's thriving industries, primarily auto and defense. But they were met with myriad problems -- white employers either refused to hire them, barred them from apprenticeships and/or relegated them to unskilled jobs that left them barely able to scrape by and always afraid of a layoff; and white residents used violence, remarkably cohesive organization and political power to keep them out of the "white" neighborhoods as long as possible, fleeing to the suburbs when the barriers were finally broken.
The result? A city of poor blacks largely ignored by whites in power; industrial departure for suburbs or other regions; unfair stereotypes of African-Americans; insufficient tax money from the impoverished residents to support reasonable public schools or needed improvements. Surgrue breaks the book into three parts that are easy to follow and leave the reader fully understanding what went wrong in Detroit in the postwar years. If I have a criticism it's that the thematic approach occasionally makes it tough to remember the chronology of the major events. But it's hardly a concern. A thematic writing was necessary in this case.
I will also note that in the Kindle version of this book, the photographs are terrible. They look like somebody photocopied them from the book, spilled black ink on them, and then scanned them for publication. And it's disappointing because I think some of those photos would have been useful. But I can't detract from the rating of the book since photo reproduction isn't the author' fault.