Summer Reading List 2014: Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff
Charlie LeDuff is a Detroit native who packed up the wife and kids and left a cushy journalism job in sunny California to return to his burnt-out homeland, a place where arson is a city wide pastime, police response time is so high no one bothers to call 911, government officials are caricatures of corruption, and most citizens gave up on looking for a job a long time ago. Detroit is one of the poorest, most dangerous cities in American, and LeDuff invites his audience to go on a seedy journey with him to uncover why. This book is a real live, no bullshit film noir, but despite his pulp-novel voice, LeDuff is a damned good professional, and weaves together narratives of auto industry collapse, mayoral crime, white flight, heroic firefighting squadrons, murders of the innocent, and his own heartbreaking family history to paint a living, breathing, bleeding portrait of Detroit. His mingled disgust and love for his city in infectious, as is his world-weary bruised and battered insistence that yes, things can get better, because they’ve already gotten worse. It’s quite possible that one man has done a better job in chronicling the collapse and rebirth of America’s most infamous city in one book than most economists and sociologists have done in ten years, and it’s not something to be missed.