Reading on Vacation
Once again this year I was able to get in some good reading during my vacation. One book that caught my eye and maintained my attention was Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff.
Those who know me know I was born and raised in a small rural town in northern lower Michigan. Our town (or more accurately village) was literally a blinking light and a corner store. If you blinked, you not only would miss the blinking light, you would miss the whole town. Most of the year, there was not much to do. In fact the most exciting news was when our cousins and our seasonal friends would come up from the “big city” during the summer. The big city, of course, was Detroit.
Detroit seemed like a world away, and indeed it was. It was not only separated from us by a near four hour road trip, but it was an altogether different life. When I was a boy Detroit was the embodiment of everything exciting. It was where the best music came from. It was where the big fancy cars were made. It was where Coleman Young was mayor. It was home to the Detroit Tigers. No one had to tell us that Detroit was once the richest, most prosperous city in the country. Even us country boys (as they called us) knew that Detroit was special. Back then it was.
Today, Detroit is a shell of itself. Like other parts of the country, Detroit has suffered (perhaps more than most) from government corruption; union and corporate greed; job loss; mortgage scams; out of control criminality; foreclosures; a poor educational system and much more. In fact, recently Detroit became the largest city ever to file for bankruptcy. Many have considered Detroit dead. In his book Detroit: An American Autopsy, Detroit native and news reporter Charlie LeDuff chronicles the death and destruction that envelopes his city, and yet also reminds us that the once great city still has a heart beat. Don’t count her dead just yet.
I have enjoyed reading LeDuff’s chronicles of life in Detroit. LeDuff is rough. His language and attitude is pure inner-city Detroit and he, nor his interviewees, hold back much in this regard. While the language is course in places, it is heart-breaking to read of how this once proud city has been raped and pillaged by the greedy and criminally-minded officials and executives. Yet it is encouraging to know that there are yet people in the city seeking to make a difference. LeDuff has written a provocative and a real Detroiter account of his city. Detroit may never again be what she once was. Still, LeDuff reminds us that Detroit may look like she is down, but she is still breathing. There is still hope for this once prosperous city.
Here is a brief interview with Charlie LeDuff on Detroit and his book: