Monday, January 6, 2014

Detroit: An American Autopsy

Many Best or Notable Books of the Year lists are made available to enthusiastic readers in December. It is always fun to find out which titles are chosen and which appear on more than one list.

One of my favorite books this year is Charlie LeDuff’s Detroit: An American Autopsy. After a twenty year absence, LeDuff, a New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, returns home to report for the Detroit News. He chronicles the abandoned homes, neighborhoods and factories of his broken city. He demonstrates the incompetence and corruption of City Hall and describes the outrageous actions of former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Council Woman Monica Conyers. He follows the trail of the auto industry from manufacturing and labor leadership to bailouts and incompetent, clueless executives. LeDuff also portrays the courage and dedication of the Fire Fighters who respond to Detroit’s systemic arson driving wrecks of fire trucks and wearing protective clothing so coated with chemicals they are a fire hazard themselves. Even the brass poles of the firehouses have been sold for scrap! LeDuff parallels the story of Detroit with that of his family, writing of their hard work, failures, tragedies and endurance. LeDuff’s fierce passion for his city and his family give readers hope for Detroit’s salvation.


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