Charlie Leduff, a Detroit native moves back to the city to work as a journalist for the Detroit News. He throws himself into uncovering the vast amount of plight within the city.
I knew Detroit was in a bad place. I knew that the ONLY reason it’s not in worse shape (however, maybe you could make the argument it would be better starting over entirely) is because “the big 3” begged Washington to intervene. I knew it was dangerous and literally empty/vacant, but this book really opened my eyes and blew my mind (I still can’t fathom it).
It was scary and strange to read about a well sized American city plagued with arsonists, murders, unemployment, (city-wide) corruption, poverty and a vacancy rate of nearly 40%. Leduff discovers an entire eco-system running on corruption-from an imprisoned Mayor (Kwame Kilpatrick), to a police department altering murder statistics (to make the situation appear better), to judges involved in bribery.
For a large portion of the book, Leduff is in close quarters with the fire department. Firefighters in Detroit are often combating the work of arsonists (one of the highest rates in the country) who enjoy the cheap entertainment of setting a vacant house or property on fire. The firefighters don’t have adequate equipment to do their jobs properly.
Early on in the book, he makes a really interesting and moving point: what has happened to Detroit is really symbolic of what happened to America at large. Detroit is the birthplace of mass production, high paid blue-collar jobs, and home ownership/credit. The American way of life (the “dream”) was what Detroit stood for. The city’s demise is not just about Detroit, it’s about the future of America and its people.
If you missed the last post, no worries! Check it out here, its a book review of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products by Leander Kahney.