Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis

Detroit City Is the Place to Be The Afterlife of an American Metropolis The fall and maybe rise of Detroit America s most epic urban failure from local native and Rolling Stone reporter Mark BinelliOnce America s capitalist dream town Detroit is our country s greatest

  • Title: Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis
  • Author: Mark Binelli
  • ISBN: 9780805092295
  • Page: 319
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The fall and maybe rise of Detroit, America s most epic urban failure, from local native and Rolling Stone reporter Mark BinelliOnce America s capitalist dream town, Detroit is our country s greatest urban failure, having fallen the longest and the farthest But the city s worst crisis yet and that s saying something has managed to do the unthinkable turn the end of dayThe fall and maybe rise of Detroit, America s most epic urban failure, from local native and Rolling Stone reporter Mark BinelliOnce America s capitalist dream town, Detroit is our country s greatest urban failure, having fallen the longest and the farthest But the city s worst crisis yet and that s saying something has managed to do the unthinkable turn the end of days into a laboratory for the future Urban planners, land speculators, neo pastoral agriculturalists, and utopian environmentalists all have been drawn to Detroit s baroquely decaying, nothing left to lose frontier With an eye for both the darkly absurd and the radically new, Detroit area native and Rolling Stone writer Mark Binelli has chronicled this convergence Throughout the city s museum of neglect its swaths of abandoned buildings, its miles of urban prairie he tracks the signs of blight repurposed, from the school for pregnant teenagers to the killer ex con turned street patroller, from the organic farming on empty lots to GM s wager on the Volt electric car and the mayor s realignment plan the most ambitious on record to move residents of half empty neighborhoods into a viable, new urban center.Sharp and impassioned, Detroit City Is the Place to Be is alive with the sense of possibility that comes when a city hits rock bottom Beyond the usual portrait of crime, poverty, and ruin, we glimpse a future Detroit that is smaller, less segregated, greener, economically diverse, and better functioning what might just be the first post industrial city of our new century.

    One thought on “Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis”

    1. Refreshingly nonpartisan and presented without the author’s own ego and agenda getting muddled up in things (a flaw so common in nonfiction books that take on difficult subjects), Detroit City Is the Place to Be is simultaneously a lesson in how we got here and how we might possibly get out of here. A Detroit area native (though he now lives in New York City), Mark Binelli covers almost every angle of the problem of Detroit, including historical and current racial tensions, the explosive growt [...]

    2. People who say that Detroit is making a comeback are either a) delusional, b) never been there, c) lying or d) focusing on a very narrow portion of the city (i.e. "Midtown", a small part of Woodward Avenue). Guess what? The city is 139 square miles and most of those miles are completely decimated. There are many books about Detroit and very few of them talk about the elephant, er, Edsel (if you will) in the room: poor people. The majority of Detroit is made up of folks living below the poverty l [...]

    3. I've spent a good deal of time reading books about Detroit and after disappointments like Detroit (A Biography), this was a breath of fresh air. It's the book I'd guide people who are interested in the city to read. Other books rely on historical documents, interviews with local figures, and drive-through visits. Binelli is from the area originally and lived in the city proper, doing ride-alongs with Charles Pugh on the bus, spending a couple days with the skeletal Highland Park Fire Department, [...]

    4. Quite disappointed in this. To be honest, I didn't think it was that well written for one thing, nor was it well organised (individual chapters were okay, but the arrangement of material in there seemed haphazard). There was no overarching thesis, it was really just a collection of disjointed anecdotes and potted histories. Sometimes with some strange digressions. It all felt a bit perfunctory - as one example, the author sneaks in to watch the filming of a blockbuster movie in his old school; a [...]

    5. The city of Detroit is pretty META right now. Merely talking about Detroit and its unprecedented decline is old hat. We've all seen the ruin porn, breathlessly emailed across the internet and splashed across design and news sites to generate clicks and ad sales. We're now into the phase where we dissect why we're all so fascinated with Detroit, and mock those who spend an inordinate amount of time gaining schadenfreude or perverse thrills from watching a city that has hopelessly, helplessly impl [...]

    6. This book is as awesome as I expected it would be. Before saying anything more, I should admit upfront that I'm friends with Mark Binelli and was working at Dalkey Archive when Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die! came out. (Another excellent book that you should read.) I've also heard Mark talk about this book for the past few years, and some fo the stories he's told me over drinks show up in here. (The gun-toting priest story and its gun training follow-up is a personal favorite.) In listening to Mark [...]

    7. I consider Detroit to be my home city though I have not even lived in Michigan for 20 years. When I go back, I like to go downtown but I go as an interloper. Here, Mr. Binelli lived in the city for a year, meeting residents, politicians, artists and gathered a story of where Detroit was, where it is, but not so much on where it is going (though understandable as there have been many false hopes created in the past 20 years as to the city's future).Much of the book made me depressed. No one can a [...]

    8. This is my kind of book about a city: a fascinating, balanced investigation and analysis of how a city works (or doesn't work), from regular folks to city hall, from it's historical boomtown heyday to its contemporary daily life tragedies and resilient aspirations. Binelli, a native son returning to his hometown, does an admirable job of covering the dimensions of the city--the car industry, unions, race, pockets of arty gentrification, Detroit-as-Great-Symbol-of-[insert your pet agenda here], m [...]

    9. Detroit as a city fascinates me and I’ve never fully understood why. I’ve not been to Detroit, I’m not involved in the auto industry, or smoking crack, or setting fires to my hometown, or anything else you might relate to the place. The author explained it to me in the introduction. At one time Detroit was the equivalent of Silicon Valley. As someone who works in this software industry and in private equity, that comparison really stunned me. It’s something I knew inherently but I never [...]

    10. Ten days ago, I finished reading Mark Binelli’s Detroit City Is the Place to Be. Five days ago, Detroit declared bankruptcy. I would hardly call the series of events auspicious, but I have to admit to a sense of relief. Because of Binelli’s book, I understood.Much of the book’s content wasn’t new to me. The novelty was in Binelli’s creative rendering of Detroit’s story, which brought alive a city considered by many to be dying. So on that matter, let me begin: Binelli writes well. Hi [...]

    11. i got this book for free in a giveaway, so i will actually write a review. i read too much to write reviews for everything but if it means is more likely to give me more free books i'll write a few hundred words, why not general this is a good book. (3 stars is a good rating from me.) it has most of the things i am looking for in nonfiction, including (most importantly) an exploratory tone. the scenic narration in particular is very compelling. it has literary ideas, which is essential for me. [...]

    12. Reading this book reminded me of a line spoken by Jack Nicholson in one of my favorite movies, As Good as it Gets: "I'm drowning and you're describing the water." The author states in the introduction that analyses chronicling the demise of Detroit have been done to death, and that he is interested in understanding how a city picks itself back up. That was a story I wanted to read. However, the author then embarks on an elegiac post-mortem that piles on to the "ruin porn" he repeatedly criticize [...]

    13. Binelli's account of the Motor City is, for the most part, a fairly good read. Both informative and enjoyable, it is an accurate portrayal of a city struggling to come to terms with its past and build something sturdy for the future. But with that, Binelli brings nothing new to the table. We all know of the city's struggles with crime, corruption, and poverty. It's not news now and it wasn't news in 2012 when the book was published. For that the title is misleading. I was hoping to read how Detr [...]

    14. It's weird that a book that comprehensively illustrates just how completely screwed this city is still somehow also makes you agree that Detroit City is, in a way at least, the place to be.My family on both sides is from Ann Arbor, and they all call it DEE-troit. I grew up thinking those two were the same place, basically, like San Jose and Cupertino (we lived in the latter, literally across the street from the former). I'm a bit less ignorant now, but it felt good to have an actual perspective [...]

    15. This is the kind of book that I often lose interest in, and sometimes walk away from wishing it were a magazine article instead. But that didn't happen here, and it's a credit to Binelli's talents as a storyteller. This is a terrific portrait of a city in decline and its attempts at rebirth or redefinition. It covers everything from the history of Detroit to the downfall and quasi-resurrection of the auto industry to Detroit techno to the burgeoning arts movement to the miserable state of Detroi [...]

    16. This book was written by a writer who frequently writes for the Rolling Stone. His style is very similar to that of the magazine, fairly high on the emotional and snarky scale and pretty low on the quantifiable scale. But nothing Binelli says seems wrong in his description and analysis of the situation. I'll be visiting Detroit in about a month and I will let you know what I think about accuracy, at least from an emotional point of view.Binelli's most telling point is that Detroit is not all tha [...]

    17. Quotes/Notes:2009: Could this be a first wave of gentrification? Was Detroit the next Williamsburg? One young couple from Chicago had bought a home in Detroit for a hundred bucks. Brooklyn artists came and froze another house in a block of ice. The Scandinavian academics, the neopastoralian agriculturalists, the deep-pocketed philanthropical organizations and the free-market ideologues and the fringe-left utopianists—they all came. Did you know Detroit experienced a 97 percent decline in resid [...]

    18. I'm a little torn on this one. While an informative look at the very recent events and people attempting to make change in the city of Detroit, the title and description lead you to believe that this is a book about the good things happening in Detroit.Yes, there are good things happening in Detroit. Unfortunately, Binelli takes the route of re-telling the same stories of hard times and bad news through personal accounts of those living in and around the city. This isn't a bad thing but its not [...]

    19. As somebody who's spent most of my life in Detroit (actually Hamtramck, Detroit & now Warren) this book was fascinating to read. Every chapter brought out a range of different emotions and I would deliberitely put the book down and go over everything again in my head before moving on. The author is a native Detroiter (now living in NYC) who moved back into the city (Eastern Market area) and spent a year trying to understand how the city came to be in ths state that it is and more importantly [...]

    20. Years ago, while traveling through Canada I found myself on the river bank of the Detroit river in Windsor. Looking across to Detroit. I was tempted to cross the bridge and go have a look. The Canadians I was with looked at me as if I was crazy. I didn't know anything about Detroit. All I wanted to do was cross 'been in the USA' (Motown city!) of my list. Detroit was dangerous, they said. No-one wants to go there, they said. I put it down as them being over-cautious, and, to be honest, a bit ove [...]

    21. Biographical books about Detroit seem to paint the city in one of two ways, either A) The "Say Nice Things About Detroit" tone in which Detroit is a secret utopia that only people who have been there can appreciate or B) Detroit is a 139 square mile death trap where every time there is a gust of wind, bullets fly through the air striking anyone standing outside. Neither is accurate.This book did an excellent job of fairly detailing Detroit from a first-person perspective. The author kept a neutr [...]

    22. Discusses the struggles and triumphes of the past and present Detriot. Current efforts such as urban gardening, right-sizing (shrinking the city by incentivizing people living in virtually abandoned "neighborhoods" to move into areas that can be more efficiently and economically maintained and serviced by the city), and artist immigration (hoping a creative prescence will assist in revitilization). Most of the book, however, is not focused on these efforts, but on the current level of decay comp [...]

    23. This is about Detroit, a city of so many challenges that it just seems overwhelming while, at the same time, it is a city of magnificence. Binelli tells of Detroit as his home town and also a boom town more than once. He writes of Detroit as the future writ from the mad pages of a sci fi narrative. He describes Detroit as an urban farm, an urban forest, the urban return to the South that so many fled. There is also Detroit as murder capital of the country, and Detroit as grand possibility. Mostl [...]

    24. One of the few books about Detroit i didn't want to throw against the wall. The author grew up in St. Clair Shores, went to UM and returned and lived in detroit while writing the book. interviewed all the right people, good stuff. especially liked his interviews with Highland Park firemen and their extraordinary dedication under absurd conditions. as soon as i hit the lottery they're on my list to help out. he's a little hard on mayor bing and a little easy on kwame. it's not racist to be angry [...]

    25. I loved this book. I grew up in Detroit, but moved away a long time ago. My family is still there and I get back once a year, so I’m endlessly fascinated by the fate of my hometown. Binelli does a commendable job looking at the city’s de-evolution, trying to put what has happened to Detroit in historic, political, and cultural context. He doesn’t attempt to offer solutions to the city’s plight, but rather looks at the various forces in play shaping the current day problems. He definitely [...]

    26. The book is a mix of history and interviews with Detroiters. Binelli temporarily lives in the heart of the city and tags along on all kinds of adventures, from shadowing the fire department in Highland Park to watching modern art installations. He talks with residents about crime, walks through abandoned buildings (including his own high school), and explores some of the creative responses to the city's situation, including urban gardening and schools like the Catherine Ferguson Academy for preg [...]

    27. As a Michigander whose spent quite a bit of time in Detroit (unlike many Michiganders), I can really get behind this book. A lot of the new-found national, and even international, attention on the city is just "listen to these scary stats and look at these shocking photos and omg we must do something for these people - let's start an urban farm!" Binelli avoids most of that, and talks about several people and/or organizations in the city that are dedicated to making positive changes - and not al [...]

    28. 3.38? 3.5? 3.62? stars? Unsure of how to rate this. More than 3, less than 4. I'm not sure if this book was meant for Michiganders or more for people from outside the area. Many things talked about, I already knew, having lived in Detroit proper and its surrounding suburbs for most of my life. Many things, I did not know about. At times shocking, charming, disappointing, it's a thoughtful, pretty well-rounded book about the history of the city with special attention paid to politics, arts & [...]

    29. It was really interesting to read about the history of Detroit, as well as some of the recent troubles, but still have somewhat of an uplifting outlook. Both cool and eerie to be familiar with many of the places and events he talks about in the book. Some of the numbers are staggering and truly hard to believe. It would be even more interesting to see what the author has to say now that another few years have passed. Would definitely recommend reading this to anyone who wants to understand Detro [...]

    30. A terrific book about a once great city. Being from the Detroit area I remember taking the train from Pontiac to Detroit with my girlfriends to Christmas shop at Hudson's Department Store, cheering on the Tigers at Briggs Stadium, jazz concerts at Cobo Hall, plays at Ford Theater, nights on the Belle Isle Ferry & sailing on the river. Those were grand times that will never be experienced again by anyone, but Mark Bonelli tells us that Detroit is not down for the count she is just in a long t [...]

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