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Once in a Great City : A Detroit Story
by David Maraniss


Overview - * Winner - Robert F. Kennedy Book Award (2016) *
"Elegiac and richly detailed... Maraniss] succeeds with authoritative, adrenaline-laced flair...evocative." --Michiko Kakutani for The New York Times
As David Maraniss captures it with power and affection, Detroit summed up America's path to music and prosperity that was already past history.
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More About Once in a Great City by David Maraniss
 
 
 
Overview
* Winner - Robert F. Kennedy Book Award (2016) *
"Elegiac and richly detailed... Maraniss] succeeds with authoritative, adrenaline-laced flair...evocative." --Michiko Kakutani for The New York Times
As David Maraniss captures it with power and affection, Detroit summed up America's path to music and prosperity that was already past history.
It's 1963 and Detroit is on top of the world. The city's leaders are among the most visionary in America: Grandson of the first Ford; Henry Ford II; influential labor leader Walter Reuther; Motown's founder Berry Gordy; the Reverend C.L. Franklin and his daughter, the amazing Aretha; Governor George Romney, Mormon and Civil Rights advocate; super car salesman Lee Iacocca; Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, a Kennedy acolyte; Police Commissioner George Edwards; Martin Luther King. It was the American auto makers' best year; the revolution in music and politics was underway. Reuther's UAW had helped lift the middle class.
The time was full of promise. The auto industry was selling more cars than ever before and inventing the Mustang. Motown was capturing the world with its amazing artists. The progressive labor movement was rooted in Detroit with the UAW. Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech there two months before he made it famous in the Washington march.
Once in a Great City shows that the shadows of collapse were evident even then. Before the devastating riot. Before the decades of civic corruption and neglect, and white flight. Before people trotted out the grab bag of rust belt infirmities--from harsh weather to high labor costs--and competition from abroad to explain Detroit's collapse, one could see the signs of a city's ruin. Detroit at its peak was threatened by its own design. It was being abandoned by the new world. Yet so much of what Detroit gave America lasts.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781476748382
  • ISBN-10: 1476748381
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publish Date: September 2015
  • Page Count: 464


Related Categories

Books > History > United States - State & Local - Midwest
Books > History > United States - 20th Century
Books > Music > History & Criticism - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-07-06
  • Reviewer: Staff

Using a combination of historical eyewitness reports and sketches of larger-than-life figures, Pulitzer-winning reporter Maraniss (Barack Obama: The Story) draws a sprawling portrait of Detroit at a pivotal moment when it was “dying and thriving at the same time.” Given its current turmoil, it is easy to forget the Detroit that once was. Between the fall of 1962 and the spring of 1964, Detroit was at its peak. It was a front-runner in the bid for the 1968 Summer Olympics; its local civil rights leaders organized the Walk to Freedom, where Martin Luther King Jr. workshopped his famous “I Have a Dream” speech; Ford Motor Co. released the Mustang; Berry Gordy was honing the soon-to-be famous “Motown sound” on West Grand Boulevard; and Walter Reuther, head of UAW, was guiding labor towards progressive reform. But even in this golden age, all was not well in Detroit. Discriminatory housing practices, intended to prevent minorities from entering the toniest neighborhoods, were exacerbating existing racial tensions, and the city’s organized crime could not be cleaned up despite the police commissioner’s best efforts. But for all his exhaustive research and evocative scene-setting, Maraniss never seems to find the zeitgeist of the historical moment he covers, the essential spirit that lifted up but ultimately ruined the Motor City. Maps & photos. Agent: Rafe Sagalyn, ICM/Sagalyn. (Sept.)

 
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