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Detroit: An American Autopsy | [Charlie LeDuff]

Detroit: An American Autopsy

In the heart of America, a metropolis is quietly destroying itself. Detroit, once the richest city in the nation, is now its poorest. Once the vanguard of America’s machine age - mass production, automobiles, and blue-collar jobs - Detroit is now America’s capital for unemployment, illiteracy, foreclosure, and dropouts. With the steel-eyed reportage that has become his trademark and the righteous indignation that only a native son can possess, journalist Charlie LeDuff sets out to uncover what has brought low this once-vibrant city, his city.
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Publisher's Summary

In the heart of America, a metropolis is quietly destroying itself. Detroit, once the richest city in the nation, is now its poorest. Once the vanguard of America’s machine age - mass production, automobiles, and blue-collar jobs - Detroit is now America’s capital for unemployment, illiteracy, foreclosure, and dropouts.

With the steel-eyed reportage that has become his trademark and the righteous indignation that only a native son can possess, journalist Charlie LeDuff sets out to uncover what has brought low this once-vibrant city, his city. In doing so, he uncovers the deeply human drama of a city filled with some of the strongest and strangest people our country has to offer.

©2013 Charlie LeDuff (P)2013 HighBridge Company

What the Critics Say

"Full of both literary grace and hard-won world-weariness...Iggy Pop meets Jim Carroll and Charles Bukowski." (Kirkus)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Karl Haecker & Sally Gilson Columbus, OH United States 09-26-14
    Karl Haecker & Sally Gilson Columbus, OH United States 09-26-14 Member Since 2014

    Karl and Sally

    ratings
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    "Gritty Elegy for a City the author loved"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Detroit to be better than the print version?

    NA


    What did you like best about this story?

    The writing is alive, it has a heart beat. You can feel the sweat and the dirt and the heartache of the author in the narrative. The author's prose borders on poetry.


    Which character – as performed by Eric Martin – was your favorite?

    The author is the main character and the favorite. Eric Martin's performance was totally life like and really made the book enjoyable even though it is about the death of Detroit.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Rook 09-01-14
    Ryan Rook 09-01-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent story and recent history of Detroit"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Detroit to be better than the print version?

    I think the narrator does an outstanding job of getting the voice of Charlie LeDuff out of the writing. For that reason, I thought it was a good version compared to the written.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The main character, Charlie, because he becomes like a friend - whether you like him or not, he seams like a real person.


    Which character – as performed by Eric Martin – was your favorite?

    Same as above


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    "Losers"


    Any additional comments?

    If you're looking for a great story about a guy who was accomplished around the world, then makes his way back to his hometown of Detroit - you'll love this story. Also, if you're looking for a recent historical account of Detroit and explanation of how things got the way they are or an explanation of how things are now in the city - this is your book. Worth the buy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W. Max Hollmann Florida 08-17-14
    W. Max Hollmann Florida 08-17-14 Member Since 2008

    Non Fiction Reader

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    "Journalist's Anecdotes About a Fromer Great City"

    The book is about one journalist's experiences dealing with the buracracy of a failing city. He sees firsthand the entrenched corruption that made Detroit fail. It's not a question of race, but most of the bad actors are African-Americans who consistently take advantage of the most poor and vulnerable of thier own race. They do this by outright stealing of money or shifting funds to favored beneficieries who then kick the money back to them. Most know they are doing it, and further, know the consequences, but they live in a world removed from public service while pledging to do good.
    We learn of firemen who have to manufacture their own alarms so they can respond to fires. Of firefighting equipment that doesn't work leading to fatalities. Of policemen who have to take buses to respond to emergency calls; that is if they even bother to show up. And ambulances that may, or may not, respond to emergency calls becasue they are so over burdened.
    The author clearly gives his perspective but in doing so he also creates important insights. There is a lesson too: this can happen to other cities. Today we talk about our crumbling infrastructure but how can it not happen when most of governments' money goes to pay for current consumption, i.e. entitlements and not on capital improvements. Today we live in a "me first" environment and point fingers when something cathastrophic occurs becasue we don't want to give up on our own selfish priorities. That what "Detroit" is all about.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret United States 06-30-14
    Margaret United States 06-30-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Testosterone-driven prose about an American icon"

    Charlie LeDuff is very, very mad. He is mad about the murder/death/disintegration of his hometown of Detroit, and he tells the gritty story of what it's like for many who still live there. Some may find his prose rather purple - I found it energized, driving - pretty full of testosterone, but the subject-matter deserved it. Firefighters losing their lives fighting chronic abandoned house fires in outdated gear that doesn't work? People living in half-populated neighborhoods where their homes aren't worth as much as their cars? Gobsmacking corruption of public officials?

    I've met some of the activists and revitalize-rs who are bringing pieces of the Big D back. People like Reverend Joan Ross, who ran a nightclub before she was ordained and is now fighting to bring solar-powered street lights into the neighborhoods Detroit has taken off the grid so kids don't have to walk home from school in pitch black conditions in the winter. People like Jacob Corvidae at the WARM Training Center, who is working every day to build a cleaner, greener economy. If you visit Detroit, you come away believing that this is a city worth fighting for.

    Charlie LeDuff focuses mostly on very negative aspects of the city - but somehow his energy and anger also make you believe that the city is worth fighting for, for its own sake, for the people who live there, and as a symbol of American recovery.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Flavius Morro Bay, CA, United States 06-20-14
    Flavius Morro Bay, CA, United States 06-20-14 Member Since 2009
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    "The Fall of a Great City"

    Returning to the once-thriving Detroit after a prolonged absence, native son Charlie LeDuff , much like the narrator in Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” encounters a ruined wonder, its former glories in tatters and serving now only to mock it. The difference is that the fabled Detroit of yesteryear is not ancient history to LeDuff, but a very real part of his memory (or perhaps social memory, as the city had already been in decline according to LeDuff), and all the more painful for the seeming impossibility of changing its course.
    There are some upbeat moments in “Detroit,” if no real happy ones, but they are few. Mostly, it is a gritty and passionate look at a doomed city, riddled with corruption, cronyism, inefficiency and despair. LeDuff manages to care enough about his subject that reading through this list of tragedies doesn’t feel too lurid The author injects himself liberally into the book, and sometimes it’s difficult (deliberately so, I suspect) to separate the author’s story from the city’s story, but it is in these comingled themes that the book is at its most personal and most powerful.
    Ultimately this book is akin to battlefield reporting. It focuses on skirmish after skirmish in a much larger and altogether more murky war. This is not a redemptive book. There are no answers, only troubling, heartbreaking pictures. LeDuff believes that Detroit is a bellwether for America in general, having signaled the nation’s postwar rise and now serving as a grim harbinger of things to come. As intriguing and provocative as this notion is, LeDuff never explores it in any depth.
    “Detroit” was informative, and kept my interest throughout. Eric Martin’s narration is great.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam Tamburelli Chicago, Illinois United States 06-13-14
    Adam Tamburelli Chicago, Illinois United States 06-13-14
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    "Amazing Story"
    Would you listen to Detroit again? Why?

    Yes. Engrossing, informative, descriptive, and gives a historical perspective on the biggest problems that exist in Detroit today.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    LeDuff


    Which character – as performed by Eric Martin – was your favorite?

    LeDuff


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

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    No

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ARG 05-21-14
    ARG 05-21-14 Member Since 2005
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    "Nailed It"
    Where does Detroit rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It is top 10% experience. The only reason I didn't want to listen to it at times was because it was so real, and so poignant that it would burn you out a bit.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The political operative who characterized the auto execs while asking for federal subsidies. For being so spot on.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It's a pretty sad and disturbing book. But it also has hope. And it is very real. This is the world we live in, whether we "see" it or not.


    Any additional comments?

    Charlie LeDuff should be commended, for the effort he has put back into his community. And for his very basic, down to earth tell it like it is effort. In a weird way, there is one big agenda here, but it isn't any of the agendas that so often dominate our world of discourse today. It is one rooted in realities, and trying to get some, any, concrete results.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Palmer Denver, CO USA 04-23-14
    Carol Palmer Denver, CO USA 04-23-14 Member Since 2012
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    "The story of a Detroit written by a native"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Detroit to be better than the print version?

    Yes, great narrator.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Adolph Mongo. Pulled no punches. Every time he was mentioned I thought of Blazing Saddles.


    What does Eric Martin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The street tough attitude.


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

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    I'm from southeast Michigan. In my memory Detroit has been going downhill for a long time. When we would "go to the city", we'd drive 6 hours west to Chicago instead of an hour east to Detroit. It was good to get the story of Detroit from someone who lived there.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa Ipswich, MA, United States 03-10-14
    Teresa Ipswich, MA, United States 03-10-14 Member Since 2011
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    "It's worse than I realized"
    What did you like best about this story?

    The raw details


    Any additional comments?

    You really have to have a connection to Detroit to understand and enjoy this book. Knowing a little of Detroit history helps too. Kudos to whoever recorded this book....you got most of the Detroit and Michigan, streets/towns/landmarks pronounced correctly.....this has been a problem in the past. Sad to think that I can never go home again, not even to visit.
    A former eastsider.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LoKey St. Louis, MO 12-16-13
    LoKey St. Louis, MO 12-16-13 Listener Since 2008
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    "Great Delivery"
    If you could sum up Detroit in three words, what would they be?

    I love the way this book was written. It's narrated like a crime fiction novel, but it's based on real life. I love stories like these, and it makes me glad as hell that I did not grow up anywhere around Detroit.

    It's important to remember that even though the politicians in Detroit are corrupt, there's political corruption everywhere in the US. From the unnecessary "Dick Cheney" war to Chris Christy's driving record and Sarah Palin's "fire my brother-in-law" power trip, you can see that no city, state or country is immune to this.

    I guess the bottom line is that when we vote clowns into office, we get a circus.


    What other book might you compare Detroit to and why?

    No comparison. I don't think I've ever read a non fiction book like this.


    What does Eric Martin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Eric Martin's style was a good match for this topic. Serious, good accents... Maybe it's a female thing, but I could listen to him all day.


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

    Yes. I was up until 4 in the morning listening to this. It's 7 hrs long, but I finished it over the weekend.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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