AdultNonFiction Teton County Library's Reviews > Detroit: An American Autopsy

Detroit by Charlie LeDuff
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's review
Mar 26, 2013

really liked it
bookshelves: current-events, true-crime

TCL Call#: 977.434 LeDuff C
Julia's rating: 4 stars

Fasten your seatbelt and lock the doors for Charlie LeDuff's tour of Motor City U.S.A. You're in for a harrowing ride. LeDuff, a journalist who worked for years at the New York Times before returning with his wife and baby girl to his hometown - Motown - to take a position with the Detroit News, introduces this "American Autopsy" by saying:

"This is not a book about geopolitics or macroeceonomics or global finance. And it is not a feel-good story with a happy ending. It's a book of reportage. A memoir of a reporter returning home - only he cannot find the home he once knew ... It is a book about a rough town and a tough people during arguably some of the most historic and cataclysmic years in the American experience ... It is about the future of America and our desperate efforts to save ourselves from it..."

This is not unbaised journalism. This is LeDuff, a character in his own right, telling the story of a city through the stories of those born there, left there, surviving there, dying there. This includes his own story and those of his family members. I found these stories to be gripping, heartbreaking, fury-inducing and ultimately full of humanity.

But, this is not a book for those who like to wear rosy glasses. It's brutal in it's descriptions of crime scenes, corruption, drug-addiction and other utterly-21st century American realities. I felt, at times, like a rubber-necker passing a car crash, wanting to turn away but unable to do so. And, while LeDuff says that this book isn't about "geopolitics or macroeceonomics or global finance" you can't tell the story of Detroit at the end of the first 21st century decade without addressing those issues. For folks interested in current events, true crime, American history or gonzo journalism, pick up this book.

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