The birth, near demise, and current struggle for survival of the Motor CityAt its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, Detroit's status as epicenter of the American auto industry made it a vibrant, populous, commercial hub—and then the bottom fell out. Detroit: A Biography takes a long, unflinching look at the evolution of one of America's great cities and one of the nation's greatest urban failures. This authoritative yet accessible narrative seeks to explain how the city grew to become the heart of American industry and how its utter collapse—from nearly two million residents in 1950 to less than 715,000 some six decades later—resulted from a confluence of public policies, private industry decisions, and deeply ingrained racism. Drawing from U.S. Census data and including profiles of individuals who embody the recent struggles and hopes of the city, this book chronicles the evolution of what a modern city once was and what it has become.
Reviews"Scott Martelle has the rare ability to bring alive a patch of history from several hundred years ago as skillfully as he does a present-day Detroiter in his living room. This is an extraordinary riches-to-rags story that raises big questions for national policy." —Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918
“The world can learn much from this bittersweet history of urban grit and strength that has now become a 21st-century symbol for industry, loss, and renewal.” —M. L. Liebler, award-winning Detroit poet and editor of Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams
“Detroit has played a crucial role in American urban, industrial, and ethnic history, today it is central to any discussion of the future of the nation's cities. Scott Martelle has done a wonderful job of capturing the essence of Detroit from its early history on the Western Frontier to "Motor City" to today's urban crisis.” —Dominic A. Pacyga, author of Chicago: A Biography
"[Detroit] offers an informative albeit depressing glimpse of the workings of a once-great city that is now a shell of its former self."—Publishers Weekly
"[Martelle's] unsentimental assessment is rich with cold, hard facts about those responsible for what Detroit became and what it is today." —Booklist
"A valuable biography sure to appeal to readers seeking to come to grips with important problems facing not just a city, but a country." —Kirkus
"While the book focuses on Detroit, readers everywhere will find his analysis useful in understanding what many cities are experiencing." —Solidarity
"[Detroit] offers an engaging, provocative introduction." —Los Angeles Times
Author BiographyScott Martelle is a professional journalist who has written for the Detroit News, the Los Angeles Times, and the Rochester Times-Union. His previous books include Blood Passion and The Fear Within. He lives in Irvine, California.