From the critically acclaimed author of Motor City, Detroit comes alive in a powerful and thrilling novel set amid the chaos of the 1960s race riots and the serenity of baseball's opening day.
Willie Bledsoe, once an idealistic young black activist, is now a burnt-out case. After leaving a snug berth at Tuskegee Institute to join the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he has become bitterly disillusioned with the civil rights movement and its leaders. He returns home to Alabama to try to write a memoir about his time in the cultural whirlwind, but the words fail to come.
The surprise return of his Vietnam veteran brother in the spring of 1967 gives Willie a chance to drive a load of smuggled guns to the Motor City - and make enough money to jump-start his stalled dream of writing his memoir. There, at Tiger Stadium on Opening Day of the 1968 baseball season - postponed two days in deference to the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr. - Willie learns some terrifying news: the Detroit police are still investigating the last unsolved murder from the bloody, apocalyptic riot of the previous summer, and a white cop named Frank Doyle will not rest until the case is solved. And Willie is his prime suspect.
Bill Morris' rich and thrilling novel sets Doyle's hunt amid the history of one of America's most tortured and fascinating cities, as Doyle and Willie struggle with Detroit's deep racial divide, with revenge and forgiveness, and with the realization that justice is rarely attainable - and rarely just.
If you could sum up Motor City Burning in three words, what would they be?
Our Boomer Adolescence
Who was your favorite character and why?
Both the main characters, Bledsoe and Doyle, were favorites. However, all the characters were truly well drawn
What about Richard Small’s performance did you like?
I thought Mr. Small did a great job except for his mispronouncing Mickey Lolich's name. The name was in the story a few places and it was jarring to hear it pronounced in such an unfamiliar way - it detracted from what was a wonderful performance
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
The truth that walked the path between white and black Detroit.
Any additional comments?
I was sixteen the summer of the 67' riots. We lived in a mixed area a few miles north of Detroit. The book brought back a flood of memories about the reaction from our neighbors, both white and black to what was going on a few miles from our door steps. The book also follows the fortunes of the 1968 Tigers. That was such a big deal for those of us who were (and are) Tiger fans. It also took me back to the general opinion of our black neighbors that cheered for St. Louis because they felt the Tigers organization was racist. That was a shock to me at the time and made me understand we may have lived in the same place, but we didn't all share the same world view. The book was a thoroughly enjoyable listen. I will be looking for other Bill Morris books.