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The Last Days of Detroit: The Life and Death of an American Giant

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  115 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 10th 2013 by Bodley Head (first published January 1st 2013)
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Mar 09, 2013 Bettie☯ rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: BBC radio listeners

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Jonathan Norton
Apr 12, 2015 Jonathan Norton rated it it was amazing
Excellent survey of modern Detroit and its woes. We get the whole "Wire" boxset: schools, City Hall, drugs, crime, economic collapse. At the same time there's a critical side-glance at smug whites, whether they be elderly I-told-you-so suburban emigres, or voyeuristic hipster idiots. The best voices here aren't the overpraised, intellectually lightweight analysts and theorists, but the hold-outs working their day jobs at street-level to keep the Fire Department running or keep the AutoWorkers Un ...more
Jan 26, 2013 Richard rated it really liked it
This is a pretty comprehensive book on the history of Detroit, what went wrong, when, and what the future can hold. I liked it because it starts from the earliest days of the French settlers, through the early 20th century with just the good amount of historical facts. It also does a nice job of presenting some of the problems faced today through the personal stories of all sorts of individuals. The author clearly didn't shy away from spending time in some of the rougher parts of the city. I esp ...more
Chris Baker
Dec 29, 2016 Chris Baker rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, non-fiction
Detroit has a reputation as the city where an American dream was born and died. Once home to the Model T Ford and Motown, Motor City's biggest export in recent years has been 'ruin porn' - photographs of grand abandoned buildings and factories overgrown, neglected and on the brink of collapse. Economic emento mori. Symbols of a fall. A warning to the West. And yet the city has also been hailed as the place where a new vision for post-industrial society could be reborn from the ashes of burnt out ...more
Jakey Gee
May 25, 2014 Jakey Gee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
Well it's an easy win, isn't it. Fascinating subject, balanced unsentimental coverage and rigorous enough to give time to crime, urban planning, arts, local politics... all the right indicators. And beautiful, beautiful Americana.

I particularly like his angle on 'ruin porn'. 'Ruin porn' is, frankly, what has always drawn me to that city and I'm grateful to learn that it's actually pretty sinister and hurtful (why are Germans and Scandinavians so enamoured with it? My hypothesis is that many Eur
Edoardo Albert
May 17, 2014 Edoardo Albert rated it really liked it
The author mentions that when he told a group of Detroit firefighters that he was writing a non-fiction account of the city, one of the men responded, 'They'll never believe it.' He's right. It is unbelievable - if we didn't have the photographic evidence, the 'ruin porn', as evidence. I'm not sure what the book tells me about what went wrong - pretty well everything might be the best answer. But there is something deeply, disturbingly satisfying about the city of the future, Henry Ford's harbin ...more
Hilary Kemp
Jul 28, 2013 Hilary Kemp rated it really liked it
Wonderful book. A history told from the inside - so much would have been lost if the writer wasn't from Detroit, having grown up as the city declined. But still told with the detachment of a person who has seen the wider world as a journalist. I respected the decision not to include reams of pictures of decay ('ruin porn') - although there are still some intriguing photographs included that help provide context for each chapter. Told with compassion. And surprisingly enjoyable and easy to read f ...more
Apr 24, 2014 Gary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting read as it gives some background to the decline of one of Americas former greatest cities. Mark Binelli meets various current residents of Detroit from all walks of life and gives their views on how they got to where they are and where they think Detroit is heading.
The writer grew up in Detroit and then moved away so we see a lot of the city through his eyes and his memories. I enjoyed this book.
Marion Husband
Apr 18, 2014 Marion Husband rated it liked it
I'd been looking forward to reading this - then it came down in price on Kindle so I bought it, and whilst it kept me interested...well, it was ok, I think as an English person a lot of the US politics was lost on me and rather boring, but a good read over all....
Dec 11, 2016 Lis rated it really liked it
A nuanced and readable account of the years leading up to Detroit bankruptcy. Mark Binelli speaks to a diverse cross-section of Detroit doesn't pretend to have all the answers which makes this a refreshing read compared to other Detroit doom/revival books and articles I've read.
Apr 03, 2013 Mandy rated it it was amazing
An excellent book on Detroit's past,present and possible future by a native of the city who clearly cares about his birthplace.
Jul 27, 2014 Judith rated it really liked it
Really interesting read; a few more photos would've been a bonus though :)
Alex Fensome
Oct 09, 2013 Alex Fensome rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking, horrific and fascinating
Toby Simmons
Jun 19, 2015 Toby Simmons rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read this book
Jul 02, 2016 Marlene rated it liked it
For one who grew up in Detroit, this book evokes many memories. Unfortunately, most of them are sad ones
Jun 25, 2014 Hayley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A disturbing, saddening and yet hopeful tale of the fall of Motor City. A readable insight into the birthplace of consumerism.
James Hardy
James Hardy rated it it was amazing
Sep 08, 2013
D E rated it really liked it
Oct 12, 2014
Claire rated it really liked it
Feb 20, 2013
Leslie Felperin
Leslie Felperin rated it really liked it
Mar 02, 2016
Bob4973 Wilson
Bob4973 Wilson rated it it was amazing
Jan 13, 2013
Randy Bundel
Randy Bundel rated it it was ok
May 11, 2013
Henry rated it really liked it
Oct 12, 2015
Alexander Parkes
Alexander Parkes rated it really liked it
Apr 07, 2014
Emma rated it it was amazing
Mar 15, 2015
Mark McElroy
Mark McElroy rated it really liked it
Aug 29, 2016
Sara rated it really liked it
Mar 03, 2013
Stuart Hill
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Apr 07, 2013
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Apr 08, 2014
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Michael Scott rated it really liked it
Feb 20, 2015
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Mark Binelli is the author of Detroit City Is the Place to Be and the novels Screamin' Jay Hawkins' All-Time Greatest Hits and Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die! as well as a contributing editor at Rolling Stone. Born and raised in the Detroit area, he lives in New York City.
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