- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Metropolitan Books (July 10, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250125146
- ISBN-13: 978-1250125149
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Poisoned City: Flint's Water and the American Urban Tragedy Hardcover – July 10, 2018
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An Amazon Best Book of July 2018: Flint, Michigan, has become a byword for municipal failure. When the government switched the city's water source, residents started to complain that the water tasted strange and they were growing ill. After repeated strong statements from the city and state claiming the water was just fine, interspersed with perplexing boil-water alerts, residents finally took large-scale water testing into their own hands, and a local hospital analyzed its patient data to prove that residents were suffering levels of lead poisoning at an unheard-of scale. Detroit journalist Anna Clark deftly sets the stage for Flint's man-made disaster: the big drop in population that affected the pipe infrastructure, Flint's financial emergencies, and the long history of sidelining poor and African-American residents in Flint. As Flint's water failures cascade and the population continues to sicken, Clark provides even-keeled reporting of the crisis even as the outrages pile up despite Michigan's attempts to bury them. Those who also read A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr will wonder how we got to this point with bad water yet again…and why, this time, it’s the government who is harming its citizens. The Poisoned City will open readers' eyes to both the scary truth that most of our cities rely on equally weak water infrastructure and how a city's residents can force others to listen. —Adrian Liang, Amazon Book Review
“An exceptional work of journalism. Clark delivers a thorough account of a still-evolving public health crisis, one with an unmistakable racial subtext.... Her book is a deeply reported account of catastrophic mismanagement. But it’s also a celebration of civic engagement, a tribute to those who are fighting back against governmental malpractice.”
―San Francisco Chronicle
“It’s hard to overstate how important Anna Clark’s new book is... A taut, riveting and comprehensive account... Clark is meticulous in untangling the welter of misstatements, cover-ups and dismissals of the problem’s severity by officials convinced that staunching the red ink hemorrhaging the crippled economies of Flint and Michigan somehow was more important than children afflicted by lead poisoning.”
“A comprehensive chronicle of the crisis―with an eye for the institutional corruption and indifference that enabled it.”
―The New York Times
“An arresting and copiously documented saga of moneyed corruption… A bracing, closely reported chronicle… Clark ably pieces together the grotesque convergence of forces that transformed Flint into a byword of failed oversight and artificially induced hazard. And she rightly notes that the water crisis, as sudden and unexpected as it might have seemed, was the culmination of more than a generation’s worth of systemic neglect and cynical austerity-minded pillaging from on high.”
“A meticulously annotated, brutally honest (she names names), and compassionately narrated account of a disgraceful American crisis... The Poisoned City is a cautionary tale for every town and city across the land.”
―The Christian Science Monitor
“Searing scrutiny... Riveting... A sobering read through all the spin and cover ups... A cornucopia of history and responsibly researched details... I have yet to encounter a more thorough, accurate or readable account of the poisoning of Flint’s municipal water supply than The Poisoned City. This is an important book, for Flint, for all American cities, and for our nation.”
―East Village Magazine (Flint, Michigan)
“Gripping and packed with meticulously sourced reportage... Clark’s rich account intersperses policy and environmental science with vivid portraits of Flint and its citizens, ramping up the tension as the horror unfolds.... A must-read―not only for those interested in environmental science and policymaking, but for anyone who believes that access to clean drinking water is a basic human right.”
“Incisive and informed... In the first full accounting of the Flint water crisis, Clark combines a staggering amount of research and several intimate story lines to reveal how the Michigan city was poisoned by its leaders and then largely abandoned to its fate by state officials.... Clark takes no prisoners, naming all the names and presenting the confirming research. ‘Neglect,’ she warns, ‘is not a passive force in American cities, but an aggressive one.’”
―Booklist (starred review)
“A complex, exquisitely detailed account... A potent cautionary tale of urban neglect and indifference... Clark goes far beyond the immediate crisis―captured nationally in images of bottled water being distributed to Flint’s poor, the most severely affected―to explain ‘decades of negligence’ that had mired the city in ‘debt, dysfunctional urban policy, disappearing investment, disintegrating infrastructure, and a compromised democratic process.’ She warns that other declining American cities are similarly threatened.”
―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Compelling... A comprehensive account [that] boils down this complex tragedy... While devastating, this account is also inspiring in its coverage of the role of Flint’s ‘lionhearted residents’ and their grassroots activism, community organizing, and independent investigation... This extremely informative work gives an authoritative account of a true American urban tragedy that still continues.”
“With every heartbreaking detail, Anna Clark’s must-read and beautifully rendered account of the Flint water crisis makes clear that this horrific poisoning of an essential American city was never just an unfortunate accident. Instead, it was the tragic, and indeed tragically inevitable, result of the fiscal, as well as environmental, racism that seems to run as deeply and powerfully in this country as water itself.”
―Heather Ann Thompson, author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy
“Anna Clark’s book on the Flint water crisis rises to a great challenge: it sacrifices neither complexity nor moral clarity. And by etching this story’s outlines in decades of racist neglect, it is not just a splendid work of journalism. It is a genuine contribution to history.”
―Rick Perlstein, author of The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan
“The Poisoned City is a gripping account of a devastating, unnatural disaster. Through deep research and on-the-ground reporting, Anna Clark makes the case that Flint’s water crisis is the result of decades of disinvestment and neglect, worsened by austerity policies and governmental malfeasance. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand America’s ongoing failure to deal with environmental injustice, racial inequality, and economic marginalization.”
―Thomas J. Sugrue, author of The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit
“The story of the Flint crisis is disturbing enough even if one knows only a few details. But the entire case, as laid out by Anna Clark, is enraging. Clark has sifted the layers of politics, history, and myopic policy to chronicle the human costs of this tragedy. Flint is not an outlier, it’s a parable – one whose implications matter not just to a single municipality but to every city in the country and all who live in them.”
―Jelani Cobb, Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism, Columbia University
“The poisoning of Flint was unintentional but it was no accident. Read Anna Clark’s empathetic yet emphatic history and you will understand how this American tragedy could have been prevented – and why it wasn’t. Her book will make you mad, but it will also give you hope for the rebirth of our cities and maybe even our democracy.”
―Dan Fagin, author of Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation
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Clark's account reveals that this kind of catastrophe is a result of decaying infrastructure. The population of flint has decreased significantly over the past 50 years, but the city water system is still the same size. I was shocked to discover that people living in flint had some of the highest water bills in the country.
This is an interesting book, but I don't believe it is the definitive account of the Flint Water Crisis. That crisis is still unfolding, and I would have liked it if Clark included more first hand accounts of the daily routine that people living there faced. The book is also vary short. It is 300 pages, but 100 of those pages are notes, and there are about 50 pages worth of Flint City History, which I didn't find all that interesting. I bought the book to learn about lead in the water, not about hunting and trading in the 1700s.
What should or could we do in our communities NOW?
READ THIS BOOK!!!
With many huge cities and rural communities our costly infrastructures from 80+ year old pipes to state roads that need better management and planning on how to do this.
This book is a MUST READ for every citizen concerned about their community and the how and why we must make better decisions for our infrastructures be it water/roads that we need in our communities. Tax paying citizens pay our taxes and we trust everything is in order.
It is not until an awareness is created to address obvious unseen issues within each of our own communities. Yet we still take much for granted until a crisis situation like Flint happens.
Anna Clark unravels numerous individual decisions and factors that created tragic consequences for the individuals and families in Flint but along the way, she also eloquently opens up so much more for every individual to learn about. This book would make a great documentary or teaching tool for so many trying to understand and why we should learn from the Flint crisis.
In all the articles and movies in the past years, I have never learned so much about the politics, red tape and how and why Flint water crisis even could happen so easily understood as well as some state, city and many absorbing and interesting facts about the history of The Great Lakes of Michigan as when I read this book.
THANK YOU ANNA CLARK!
Anna Clark also has given many unsung Flint Hero’s recognition that they deserve as well as models of cities that have undertaken preventive measures by replacing there “unseen” pipes. Each statement is supported by facts and eloquently presented.
“The Poisoned City” is a book about politics, chemistry, medicine, about financial (mis-)management, environmental protection, and why it is important for a community to band together when the cause requires it, because we are indeed stronger together than when we stand alone. The story of the Flint water crisis is important because its underlying problems affect all of us living in the United States today, and simply sticking your head in the sand and hoping for favorable winds isn’t going to help. It teaches lessons that we should at least be aware of, because in the end, we are all equally responsible for ensuring that our vision of democracy is put into practice in an inclusionary manner.
I very highly recommend this book to anyone, whether you’re interested in the topics mentioned above, enjoy a good fact-based thriller, or are simply a fan of great writing.
“The Poisoned City” is published by Henry Holt & Company. I received a free copy in exchange for a review via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
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