Reviews for Detroit : An American Autopsy

Booklist Reviews 2013 February #1
After a career as a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter with the New York Times, LeDuff answered the longing to return to his roots in Detroit, a city that was once at the forefront of American industry and growth. What he returned to was a city now more famous for its corruption and decay. LeDuff reprises the shenanigans of Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and city councilwoman Monica Conyers and others before the slow-moving justice process caught up with them. Among the other signs of decay: a police department so broke that cops take the bus to crime scenes and a fire department so bereft it sells its brass poles as scrap. He reports on surreptitious meetings with police officers to counter rosy reports of declining crime rates. He also reports on the personal toll the city's decline has taken on its citizens, including his own family, with grim stories of his brothers' chronic unemployment and his sister's and niece's deaths from drug overdoses. With the emotions of personal connection and the clear-eyed detachment of a reporter, LeDuff examines what Detroit's decline means for other American cities. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 December #2
Iggy Pop meets Jim Carroll and Charles Bukowski in this gritty downer of a Rust Belt portrait. "I threw my cigarette butt into the sewer grate. I looked up into the rain. That's when a bird shit on my face." Thus writes former New York Times and Detroit News reporter LeDuff (US Guys: The True and Twisted Mind of the American Man, 2007, etc.), and he means nothing remotely humorous by it. His Detroit is a set out of Blade Runner, and never mind all that Kid Rock and sundry entrepreneurs have been doing to revive the Motor City; LeDuff isn't convinced: The place is toast, its people what an editor of his used to spit out: "losers." "That was 80 percent of the country," LeDuff counters, "and the new globalized economic structure was cranking out more." Even the locals have pretty much given up on the place; says one hard-bitten cop, "This whole town is just a worm-infested shit pile, Charlieā€¦.It's a dead city. And anybody says any different doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about." With so much going against the place, readers can't help but cheer when something goes right, as occasionally it does. Indeed, the heart soars when things don't go absolutely wrong, as when LeDuff's scrawny brother stands up to a hoodlum in a vainglorious, near-suicidal encounter at a bus stop. Along the way, the author looks at some of the toxic ingredients that have brought Detroit to its knees, including the aforementioned globalization, the replacement of local industry with a service economy of crime and, particularly, the noxious effects of racism, which he examines through his own family history. There's little joy in these pages, and one hopes that Detroit will endure, if only to cheer LeDuff up. A book full of both literary grace and hard-won world-weariness. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 September #1
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter LeDuff returned home to Detroit and found a once rich and innovative city that now reigns supreme in unemployment, illiteracy, foreclosure, and dropouts. What happened? (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 December #1

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist LeDuff (Work and Other Sins) delivers an edgy portrait of the decline, destruction, and possible redemption of his hometown. Returning in 2008 after 20 years away, the former New York Times staff writer finds a city in its death throes. The "Big Three" car companies are months away from begging for bailouts, arsonists are burning down vacant buildings, firefighters have faulty equipment, ambulances take too long to arrive, and violent criminals walk the streets. As a reporter for the Detroit News, LeDuff tries to uncover where all the money, targeted toward municipal services, is really going. As he exposes the corruption and ineptitude of the city's government, he introduces readers to Detroit's larger-than-life former mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick; the now jailed "self-serving diva" and former city councilwoman, Monica Conyers; "political hit man" Adolph Mongo, as well as the city's long-suffering firefighters, a mother who lost two sons to random gun violence, and a corpse encased in four feet of ice. Noting that Detroit is where "America's way of life was built," LeDuff argues that the city is a microcosm of what's occurring in the rest of the country: foreclosures, unemployment, rising debt. In a spare, macho style, with a discerning eye for telling details, LeDuff writes with honesty and compassion about a city that's destroying itself--and breaking his heart. Agent: Sloane Harris, ICM. (Feb.)

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