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Sintesi dell'editore

When we think of Detroit, we think first of the auto industry and its slow, painful decline, then maybe the sounds of Motown, or the long line of professional sports successes. But economies are made up of people, and the effect of the economic downfall of Detroit is one of the most compelling stories in America.

Detroit: A Biography by journalist and author Scott Martelle is about a city that rose because of the most American of traits - innovation, entrepreneurship, and an inspiring perseverance. It’s about the object lessons learned from the city’s collapse, and, most prosaically, it’s about what happens when a nation turns its back on its own citizens.

The story of Detroit encompasses compelling human dimensions, from the hope it once posed for blacks fleeing slavery in the early 1800s and then rural Southern poverty in the 1920s, to the American Dream it represented for waves of European immigrants eager to work in factories bearing the names Ford, Chrysler, and Chevrolet. Martelle clearly encapsulates an entire city, past and present, through the lives of generations of individual citizens. The tragic story truly is a biography, for the city is nothing without its people.

Scott Martelle is a former Los Angeles Times staff writer and author of three books of nonfiction. He has covered three presidential campaigns as well as postwar reporting from Kosovo. He is the cofounder of the Journalism Shop, a book critic, and an active blogger. He lives with his wife and children in California.

©2012 Scott Martelle (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

“Former Detroit News reporter Martelle vividly recounts the rise and downfall of a once-great city…An informative albeit depressing glimpse of the workings of a once-great city that is now a shell of its former self.” (Publishers Weekly)
Blood Passion is the definitive account of a major landmark in the American struggle for social justice. And the way Scott Martelle tells the story is splendid proof that history can both be written as vividly as a novel and also be documented with scrupulous care.” (Adam Hochschild, New York Times best-selling author on Blood Passion)
“Martelle’s excellent book captures [the Ludlow Massacre] with a journalist’s flair for narrative and a historian’s penchant for making the necessary inferences where they belong: on the page for all to see.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

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  • Rick
  • 17 03 2013

...And I'm from Lansing!

Good book! Having grown up in Michigan, it was interesting to hear the history behind the city of Detroit. With the turmoil surrounding Detroit, it's debt, the crime, the flocks who've left and the hope from those that choose to stay, it was sad to hear how great the Motor City once was.

Having grown up in Lansing, Michigan history is always something I want to read. Throughout the entire book I found myself trying to picture what it must have been like in the 20's and 30's. Those days are long gone and it may be a long time if ever before Detroit will be as respected as it once was. Sad to see.

I listened to this book twice, each time finding myself captivated. I'll probably try and buy the hard copy for my shelf.

2 su 2 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Teresa
  • 10 07 2012

A Native Detroiter

What did you love best about Detroit?

I learned a lot more about the politics that were going on when I was a child

What didn’t you like about William Hughes’s performance?

The names of local places and streets are frequently mispronounced. The pronunciation of a major street in Detroit, Gratiot was almost unrecognizable. This is so distracting that it really should be rerecorded.

2 su 2 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Carole
  • 25 04 2012

Great Hisroty of Detroit

Would you consider the audio edition of Detroit to be better than the print version?

NOOOOO. The narrator clearly knew nothing about Detroit and his pronunciation of local place names was atrocious! What a terrible oversight for a book ABOUT Detroit, and the publisher was from Chicago. Lame

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Well written and researched.

What didn’t you like about William Hughes’s performance?

He clearly knew nothing about Detroit. I got distracted part way through and started making a list of all the words he mispronounced.

2 su 2 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Joshua Kim
  • 10 06 2012

Lessons from "Detroit: A Biography"

What would Detroit look like today if the University of Michigan had not moved from the city (after the university's founding in 1817) to Ann Arbor in 1837? Imagine what U of M's $8 billion endowment and 40,000 students would mean to the city today?

Would having a flagship research university in Detroit have allowed the city to follow a path closer to that of Pittsburgh, another formerly one industry town (steel instead of autos) that re-invented itself to a center of ED'S, MED'S, and FINANCE?

These and other questions are pondered in Scott Martelle's wonderful new book, Detroit: A Biography.

We keep reading about how it is cities that drive our economy by spurring innovation. Matt Ridely, in The Rational Optimist, talks about cities as places where "ideas go to have sex." Readers of Ed Glaeser's Triumph of the City know that the world's future is an urban future, and that more people will move to cities in the 21st century than at any time in the history of the world.

The sub-title of Glaeser's book is "How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier." How then to explain Detroit?

Martelle, a long time Detroit resident and reporter (he currently lives in California) sets out to explain how Detroit went from one of our wealthier cities (with amongst the highest median incomes and highest rates of home ownership in the 1950s) to a place over one-third of residents live below the poverty line. What caused the greatest urban population crash in modern memory, with the number of Detroit city residents dropping from 1.85 million in 1950 to just over 700,000 today?

What can we learn from the story of Detroit? And is there a future for the Motor City? Martelle is stronger on the former question than the latter. He is articulate about the decisions the people of Detroit should have made to build on the city's industrial foundations. He is less certain about what Detroit can do now to turn things around.

Martelle ascribes the reasons for Detroit's fall primarily to the short-sighted and greedy decision making of the cities former elites. Rather than invest in industries outside of automobiles, politicians and corporate executives continuously doubled-down on cars. There is no Ford or G.M. University in Detroit. No Chrysler College. The failure to diversify is a lesson that other single industry towns should learn well.

Detroit: A Biography is an important addition to the growing literature on urbanism and innovation - and should be read by anyone thinking about which policies will be most effective in growing the U.S. economy in the 21st century.

3 su 4 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Tim
  • 14 05 2012

A Very Interesting Book about Detrot's History!

Would you consider the audio edition of Detroit to be better than the print version?

This was a great book especially in the beginning. I got lots of interesting facts and figures. I felt that the end of the book was not nearly the quality as the beginning. I felt it skimmed over much the "1948: 250th Anniversary!" It did give some great information on the "Henry Ford Era" but again not enough; and it didn't seem to have enough information on the revival and the 2008: 300th Anniversay!" I am glad I read the book, but it seemed to be hastened during the end!

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The Beginning History and the facts and details - the civil rights of Detroit was also interesting for me!

Have you listened to any of William Hughes’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Nope

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Early African America struggles.

Any additional comments?

It was a great book in the beginning!

1 su 1 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Jason
  • 11 05 2012

The city personified

What made the experience of listening to Detroit the most enjoyable?

The author shares the major turning points in the city's life. In it I began to feel both a vested interest and a sympathy for the people who put so much stock in it's well being.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

I think the thing that hit me strongest was the broad view with which the book was written. The cities decline was something that was set in motion many years before.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

1 su 1 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Robert J. Goodsell
  • 23 06 2012

Narrator has never been near Detroit

What three words best describe William Hughes’s performance?

Doesn't know Detroit

Any additional comments?

The reader's mispronunciation of several Detroit area names is very distracting if you are familiar with the area: "Gratiot" should be pronounced "GRASH-ut", not "GRATHio". And it's "E-corse", not "e-CORSE", and "maCOMB" county, not "MAYcom". He also often puts emphasis in the wrong places in sentences.<br/><br/>The book itself often diverges into huge amounts of largely irrelevant detail, especially distracting when listening.<br/>

2 su 3 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Daniel Lesosky
  • 23 08 2017

Excellent Examination; Interesting Pronunciation

The author does a really great job weaving together over 300 years of history into a rather streamlined retelling of the city's most defining events as well as so many little known, yet fundamentally important, ones. In order to understand how Detroit has gotten to where it is today and where it needs to go, the author concentrates on race, the auto industry and unions, politics, and psycho-sociology. After listening to this biography, one can see how all these aspects are are not only connected, but act like dominoes against one another--when one falls in some way, either figuratively or literally, all the others are in turn adversely affected. It's important to note, though, that the narrator has obviously never sat down with the author aw many of the street names and names of people or places are butchered. Gratiot (pronounced Gra-shit) or Gabriel Richard (pronounced like like the French version) is pronounced "Gra-t-oh" and Richard as in Richard Simmons. It's ironic as this French and Anglican is mixed up here. It's all rather funny and doesn't take away from the fine writing and entertaining storytelling. In fact, I kind of looked forward to hearing the next butchered word. Also, the narrator seems to get into it a bit too much at the wrong time, seemingly trying to add emphasis or excitement at inopportune times. Overall, I'll listen again as I've become a lot more educated in subject matter that I love.

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  • B. P. Sexton
  • 17 12 2015

Excellent biography of my home city

I learned a lot about the forces that forged Detroit into a powerhouse and the forces that lead Detroit into near ruins. I lived through some of the story and know how well the author captures the people on the ground of late 20th century Detroit. In the end I learned how and why life in Detroit in the 70's and & 80's was so hard. Highly recommended by a native

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  • Timothy M. Mahoney
  • 04 09 2015

Thank you

I moved to Detroit 5 years ago and have finally gotten a chance to dig in and learn more about city. I Loved this book, I look forward to investigating Mayor Pingree and the Reuther brothers more in depth. This book covers a lot quickly, I found myself having to take breaks a lot as the areas racial problems were detailed, very tough to stomach. Overall, so appreciative that this book exists.