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.
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.” (
“ 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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