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Detroit: An American Autopsy

Detroit: An American Autopsy

Scritto da Charlie LeDuff

Narrato da Eric Martin


Detroit: An American Autopsy

Scritto da Charlie LeDuff

Narrato da Eric Martin

valutazioni:
4/5 (28 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
7 ore
Pubblicato:
May 21, 2013
ISBN:
9781622312054
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descrizione

In the heart of America, a metropolis is quietly destroying itself. Detroit, once the richest city in the nation, is now its poorest. Once the vanguard of America’s machine age —mass production, automobiles, and blue-collar jobs —Detroit is now America’s capital for unemployment, illiteracy, foreclosure, and dropouts.

With the steel-eyed reportage that has become his trademark and the righteous indignation that only a native son can possess, journalist Charlie LeDuff sets out to uncover what has brought low this once-vibrant city, his city. In doing so, he uncovers the deeply human drama of a city filled with some of the strongest— and strangest— people our country has to offer.

Pubblicato:
May 21, 2013
ISBN:
9781622312054
Formato:
Audiolibro


Informazioni sull'autore

Charlie LeDuff is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, formerly at the New York Times and the Detroit News, and currently on Detroit’s Fox 2 News. He is the author of US Guys and Work and Other Sins. He lives near Detroit.

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4.0
28 valutazioni / 28 Recensioni
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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (4/5)
    The author the decay of Detroit. An interesting and disturbing account of a dysfunctional city.
  • (4/5)
    While 'Mr. Charlie' (read it to get the reference) sometimes seems to be putting himself forward as a White (or is he?) Knight, following LeDuff around Detroit was a fascinating, if somewhat depressing, read in these early Trumpian days.
  • (4/5)
    Sobering, depressing, but fascinating description of Detroit in its current state.
  • (5/5)
    brutal reality.
  • (5/5)
    I love this book. I lived in Windsor and remember Detroit, it was always a hard place and Leduff shows that hammer hardness and razor sadness and just when you think it can't shock you it finds a way.
    Thanks Charlie
  • (5/5)
    Part autobiography, part history, part social commentary, part razor sharp reportage, part cautionary tale, all brilliant. Angry, tragic, and heartbreaking but full of humor. Superbly written and unyieldingly gripping.
  • (4/5)
    In Detroit: An American Autopsy, Charlie LeDuff -- a Detroit native who left for 20 or so years to travel, get a journalism degree, and work at respected newspapers on both coasts, before returning to Detroit and a job The Detroit News -- gives us a history of Detroit from its founding through its decline, including up close and personal stories of the fall of Kwami Kilpatrick, the auto company bailouts, and the crazy things that happen in a rapidly shrinking city. The book is also a memoir of sorts of his own family's history: a family who was in Detroit almost from the beginning. LeDuff is a super straight talker and doesn't pull punches. He also really knows how to tell a story in a way that grabs and keeps a reader's interest. The book starts with Charlie, in his capacity as a reporter, checking out a lead about a dead body frozen into a pool of water at the bottom of an elevator shaft in one of Detroit's abandoned buildings. Sure enough, he found the corpse frozen into a block of ice, with only feet and sneakers sticking out. Miraculously, the shoes had not been stolen. He reports that it took more than a day for the police to respond to his call about the unidentified body. And that's just the beginning...LeDuff goes on to report on the sad state of public services in the city, including fire departments with old and broken equipment, crazy and/or corrupt politicians, and how whole sections of the city lose electricity for periods of time without notice.

    I live in Michigan, and have lived in and near Detroit when in my 20s, and this book really got under my skin. It's really tragic that such a great city with so much history could fall so far because of corruption and mismanagement, and also changing times. LaDuff gives us history, plus a snapshot of some of the inner workings of the dysfunctional city in most recent times. There is some really unpleasant and graphic material, including R Rated text messages that were evidence in the Kilpatrick trial, so the book is not for the squeamish. Also, LeDuff isn't politically correct, and there's a gruff bravado that comes through in his writing that at first irritated me, but I eventually adjusted and didn't notice it because my interest in the content won out.
  • (5/5)
    Charlie LeDuff has dissected the history and psychology of Detroit and its inhabitants in this gritty analysis of a fallen city. His book is part memoir, part history lesson and part true crime but entirely an American story. He describes first-hand finding the body of a man encased in ice at the bottom of an elevator shaft which known to cops and the building owner, still went unrecovered for over 3 months, how firefighters are the last cowboys fighting a losing war when they don't even have operational trucks, yet alone toilet paper, and how a 9-1-1 call takes over 24 minutes to get an ambulance, if you're lucky. This book is a difficult read. LeDuff writes plainly, honestly, truthfully, and accurately; creating an unglaringly horrific story of a once booming town let down by the very industry that made it successful to begin with. It is a story of American society, of values that have changed . . . how people now want easy money but aren't willing to work hard for it, a story of survival.
  • (4/5)
    A fascinating anecdotal book about the collapse of a boom town. Detroit flourished when there was a demand for American automobiles made in America. When that mine ran out, the city began to die. But the classic boom towns in the Old West had a few hundred people in them; not several hundred thousand. Detroit's other problems (rampant corruption, lack of city services, crushing poverty) all stem from the end of the boom times.
  • (5/5)
    I was born in Detroit but like many families of the early 50s, mine moved to the suburbs. Even though we were in the suburbs, our lives were still shadowed by what went on in the city. Like Charlie, after college, I moved as far away from Detroit as I could get, but unlike Charlie, I never went back. I keep up with the news and knew that the city was in trouble but Charlie's book put names and faces to the troubles. I found his chapters on the fire departments to be especially touching - to know that they are risking their lives on a daily basis without proper equipment is just so wrong. At first I wondered if this book would touch people who didn't know Detroit as much as it did me. But after reading it, I think that it should be read by everyone. I think what has and is happening to Detroit is going to be replicated all over this country and people need to be prepared. Thank you for a fantastic book about a once fantastic and beautiful city.
  • (4/5)
    Detroit, LeDuff tells us over and over again, is a hellhole. He writes of his childhood on Joy Road in Livonia, a near suburb of Detroit. And the road name is basically the only joy in the book. LeDuff's Detroit is sordid, saturated with murder, corruption, cronyism, drugs, and despair. Those hipsters, urban farmers and young entrepreneurs you've heard are flocking to Detroit? LeDuff apparently hasn't met them.

    This reads like a 1940s crime noir novel, with LeDuff playing the role of hard-edged gumshoe, which in his case is reporter for the Detroit News, the job he holds for most of the story. LeDuff is the lead character in a gritty tale of frozen corpses, murdered strippers, crooked politicians, incompetent business executives, heroic firefighters, shattered families, and LeDuff's ever-present cigarette. There's even a scene with a cop in a hat and trench coat.

    In the prologue, LeDuff calls this a "book of reportage," but this is not a typical work of journalism. This is a memoir of the reporting he did in his two years with the News. He goes behind the scenes to show his work in getting the stories, with a lot of personal information thrown in. LeDuff doesn't bother with any kind of meta-analysis to explain Detroit's decline, aside from some references to the legacies of racism. There are no footnotes, and some conversations are clearly reconstructed from memory, unless it is LeDuff's habit to take notes while drinking.

    Reading this book felt a little like rubbernecking at a major accident. It offended my ideals of journalism, strained my credulity at times, and, in one chapter, made me grateful to not be married to LeDuff. Yet, I couldn't stop reading. I finished this in less than 24 hours, closing it only to eat or sleep. I can't wait to discuss it at book group.
  • (5/5)
    If you're a former Detroiter who wonders what the hell happened to drag the world-class city of 60 years ago into the gutter it now occupies, read this book. Journalist Charlie LeDuff presents a series of brief vignettes and news snippets that illustrate just how broken the city and its infrastructure. His stories vividly portray not only the corruption at the highest level of government but the frustration of the remaining police officers and firefighters who struggle to protect the 700,000 remaining residents while coping with pitifully inadequate resources.LeDuff interweaves his own family's history into this sad odyssey of a decaying city.It's not pretty, but it's well worth reading. SO READ IT!
  • (5/5)
    Journalist for the New York Times and Detroit News, Charlie LeDuff wrote this book before Detroit declared bankruptcy but he obviously anticipated it. He calls this book an 'American autopsy' and it is certainly that, analyzing the slow disintegration of the city. Once a leader in manufacturing and entrepreneurship, it is today a leader in unemployment, foreclosures, and poverty. Detroit born and raised, LeDuff returned home with his wife and daughter to reconnect with his family and the city he remembered. Perhaps that is why what he found filled him with such outrage and despair. He focuses on the Detroit fire department, so hard hit with budget cuts that they are struggling to do their job. They are often busy putting out fires in abandoned buildings set by arsonists and occasionally by locals sick of the crime the buildings attract. LeDuff also looks at the role played by the collapse of the auto industry that left so many unemployed.This is a surprisingly personal tale as LeDuff describes his childhood and how the fate of the city affected the fate of his brothers and sister who stayed there. It is written in a very journalistic style with quick metaphors and insights that go to the heart of the problem. While he stresses that Detroit is filled with good people trying to help, he describes a Detroit whose government and judicial systems became so corrupt that there is nowhere to turn for help. New officials elected on a platform to clean up corruption become part of the system or are impotent. It is a sad book that offers no solutions but offers a fascinating look at what may lie ahead for many other cities.
  • (4/5)
    This book looks at the disintegration of an American city (Detroit), as well as the disintegration of family life and the American dream.Charlie LeDuff is a journalist, and this book is not a history or an academic exploration of modern society. It's a tough, honest and personal look at a city, including street people, unemployed, corruption and decaying city services. The author provides stories about real people, and about his own family struggling in Detroit. It's an accessible book, but not easy to read because of the heartbreaking stories.The book is important because Detroit may well be the proverbial canary in the coal mine -- a signal of what is to come to more large cities as manufacturing jobs move offshore.
  • (5/5)
    LeDuff is a journalist who returns to his hometown and goes where many fear to tread. Many compelling stories as he puts a face on the immense suffering of the many victims in the declining Rust Belt City. Excellent profiles of the many corrupt elected officials who have compromised the police and fire department members who battle against hopeless odds in a city that has descended into chaos.
    An interesting added dimension is LeDuff battling with his own personal demons and tragedy within his family. Themselves victim of the inexorable decay.
  • (4/5)
    Detroit News journalist Charlie LeDuff brings an unflinching perspective to the woes of the once great industrial city of Detroit Michigan. His is a Detroit of political corruption, economic despair, woefully overworked and under supported police and fire departments, violence and grief. All of which is undeniably true. However, as a surgeon will see the scalpel as the likely solution, one suspects this city desk writer only sees the gritty underworld as the face of the city. Missing here, for the most part, are the stories of hope, determination, kindness and resurrection. As the title suggests, LeDuff came not to praise the beknighted city, but to bury her. I believe just about every major urban area has similar stories. As goes Detroit, so will go many other similarly situated communities.
  • (4/5)
    narrated by Eric MartinThe basics: Detroit: An American Autopsy is part journalism, part current events, and part memoir. Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Charlie LeDuff makes the somewhat surprising choice to return to Detroit, where he grew up, with his wife and daughter. In this book, LeDuff explores what's become of the town his family has lived in for generations with a cynical, native eye. My thoughts: LeDuff writes with a raw urgency I found infectious. The subtitle of this book gives a clue as to where Detroit stands, and as concerned as LeDuff is with the how, there's plenty of exploration as to how much really is wrong with Detroit. Part of telling that story is telling its prosperous history. Before Detroit became a sad story and a punchline, it was one of the most successful American cities. In the span of a generation, it changed drastically.LeDuff explores these issues and themes both personally, in terms of his experience and his family's history, and professionally, as a journalist covering the city itself. The combination works beautifully, at least in part due to LeDuff's no-holds-barred attitude. He's simultaneously critical and reverent of the city. He's honest about his own mistakes and shortcomings. The result is a difficult to place in a single genre book, but it's one whose reading experience I enjoyed immensely.Audio thoughts: Eric Martin was superb. He narrated with a strong emotional inflection, and I had to keep reminding myself he wasn't just telling me his own story (with passion, likely over beer and bourbon.) Martin perfectly navigated the combination of personal memoir, social commentary, and journalism in this book. I'll definitely be seeking out more of his narrations.The verdict: Detroit: An American Autopsy is a fascinating blend of journalism, family history, memoir, and current events. LeDuff's writing is infused with a richness of detail, emotion and honesty. Eric Martin's narration enhances the book, but I'd recommend it in print or audio, depending on your preference.Rating: 4 out of 5 (audio 4.5 out of 5)
  • (3/5)
    Charlie LeDuff is a native Detroiter who survived a troubled childhood to become a successful journalist, writing for the Detroit News and the New York Times and later returning to his hometown to work in television journalism for Fox News. His subtitle tells you what you need to know about his perspective on his hometown: it?s dead and his book is an autopsy of what led to its death. He writes of both the ?good guys?--the police and the firefighters who are trying desperately, and in LeDuff?s view, hopelessly, to salvage some good from the city--and the ?bad guys?-- corrupt and incompetent politicians, notably including former councilwoman Monica Conyers, ?political hit man? Adolph Mongo, and of course, former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, as well as other schemers who are out to make a buck in the city however they can. He also weaves in reminiscence of his family and their life in Detroit, a life that is full of tragedy, including the disappearance and premature death of his sister. LeDuff?s book, like the city he writes about, is rough and difficult, so rough and difficult that it takes your breathe away.
  • (3/5)
    Charlie LeDuff is a native Detroiter who survived a troubled childhood to become a successful journalist, writing for the Detroit News and the New York Times and later returning to his hometown to work in television journalism for Fox News. His subtitle tells you what you need to know about his perspective on his hometown: it’s dead and his book is an autopsy of what led to its death. He writes of both the “good guys”--the police and the firefighters who are trying desperately, and in LeDuff’s view, hopelessly, to salvage some good from the city--and the “bad guys”-- corrupt and incompetent politicians, notably including former councilwoman Monica Conyers, “political hit man” Adolph Mongo, and of course, former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, as well as other schemers who are out to make a buck in the city however they can. He also weaves in reminiscence of his family and their life in Detroit, a life that is full of tragedy, including the disappearance and premature death of his sister. LeDuff’s book, like the city he writes about, is rough and difficult, so rough and difficult that it takes your breathe away.
  • (1/5)
    This book captures a very thin layer of the Detroit I study, lived in, love, loved. Very little of its rich complexities, almost nothing of the larger forces that shape it, and reading it you'd never know things like Belle Isle, Faygo, Boblo, much less the Boggs Center and the Shrine of the Black Madonna ever existed. If you're looking for an exposé, look no further.

    If you're looking for a book about Detroit, look elsewhere.
  • (5/5)
    I am a former Detroiter (okay, a suburban Detroiter), so I find anatomy of the city books particularly compelling but it is hard to imagine anyone not finding this interesting, albeit heartbreaking. Charlie LeDuff is a great writer and this reads like a crime novel rather than reportage some of the time, but I wholeheartedly believe what he says is true, or at least presents one reliable perspective on stories that can be seen from many angles. People think LeDuff hates Detroit, and nothing could be further from the truth. He is passionate about his muse, and loves her not in spite of, but partially for her flaws. I kept thinking as I read of Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 (a favorite of mine.) My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more red than her lips’ red; If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. I have seen roses damask’d, red and white, But no such roses see I in her cheeks; And in some perfumes is there more delight Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks. I love to hear her speak, yet well I know That music hath a far more pleasing sound; I grant I never saw a goddess go; My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground: And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare. Heartily recommended.
  • (5/5)
    Great writing that kept me up until I finished. Neither thriller nor detective, but in some ways both. Detroit is the home of America’s dream – moveable living room comfort that gives you the freedom to go anywhere and the well paying job to support it. This author does not mince words. He means death. The Detroit he describes and analyzes has died. Every politician and community leader should study this body to learn. Sprawl, racism, corruption, and shifting economics know few boundaries. There are no solutions without honest confrontation of the problems.LeDuff’s family odessey weaves through the story. This is no ordinary observer. Death is too familiar.He understands its pain, its victims, and the strength it takes to continue. Reading the stories and dialogs I kept thinking, this is real, not fiction. GratiotLeDuff does his own forensic analysis of financial misuse and the attendent supporting corruption. Some of it greases the political machines of various administrations. Other parts fatten the wallets of suppliers of city services. Street level recipients and politicians are too easy to finger as causes.The author does implicate the mismanagement of the auto industry in Detroit’s death, but without the same intensity or detailed insight.
  • (4/5)
    Shows the real death of a city, which is just the first of them to go. Chilling and depressing. The inevitability of it should give pause to the whole of the US, and the grim future to come. There is a hopelessness here that ir real, and the answer to it is beyond remediation at this point. Maybe just quarantine the city and hope that the rot doesn't spread further, but even that would just share the rot.
  • (3/5)
    For years, I have told people that my family was from Detroit, but none of my family live in Southeast Michigan any more. After reading LeDuff's book, I remembered that I wasn't from Detroit, but from Dearborn which is an important distinction as it is the suburbs. Dearborn is a Ford company town and my Grandmother's home was in the shadow of both the Ford world HQ and the River Rouge complex. Even though I grew up in the southeast U.S., I have always had an interest in Detroit and the communities that surround it. I found it hard to read this book, as it forced me to re-think (a bit) my opinion of the city. Everyone knows the area has fallen on hard times. I guess my attitude about the place was colored by the rose glasses of youthful memories and the attitudes of my grandparents who had come of age in the city's golden period. Additionally, I haven't visited the Detroit area in nearly 10 years. I found this book to be somewhat fascinating, in the same way we all seem to be interested in checking out car wrecks. Still, I enjoyed reading this work and look forward to the re-birth of this essentially American city.
  • (5/5)
    The book is a hoot. Besides being a wonderful set of urban anecdotes, this is a goldmine for anyone writing or GMing cyberpunk or urban fantasy. I could write a good adventure oof each chapter.
  • (3/5)
    I am sure this is a really interesting book. I just couldn't get past the hard-boiled, tough guy voice. It seemed really affected.
  • (4/5)
    This bleak memoir revisits Detroit in its recent years, as the decades of slow collapse have come to a head and been (finally) noticed by the rest of the country. Charlie LeDuff is a native son, absent for many years, who brings his family home only to find that home is not what he remembers. A former reporter, LeDuff has a stark journalistic writing style that suits his subject and a brash voice that lights the fading city and its more recognizable citizens with an appropriately harsh brightness. In fact, all this glare might be too much for some readers -- this is not the hopeful "things will get better" novelization nor the ruin-porn with glitzy pictures that lately have been highlights of literary Detroit. This book is personal -- more personal than I expected -- it is darkly humorous, it is grimly pragmatic, and it offers only the slimmest glimpse of encouragement as it grinds through pages of broken systems and broken people. I like its frankness, even when the urban brashness and downriver hyperbole get to be a little much; not everyone will. LeDuff's book is a clear reflection of himself. After seeing him speak at a local bookstore, and hearing him read a few short passages, I recognized how authentic his writing is. It isn't perfect, not by a long shot, nor is it elegant... but it is an indelible transcription of his own speech. There is a certain beauty in that. Seeing him argue a political point and hearing his voice choke at an emotional moment in his own memoir also confirmed for me the intensely personal nature of his work; Charlie LeDuff cares about Detroit and, in many ways, the redeeming value of his book is that it might make you care too.
  • (4/5)
    Well, that was a depressing book. Or was it? Charlie LeDuff, after years of living away from his hometown of Detroit, decides to move his family there when he feels that LA is becoming too crowded to raise his daughter safely. Obviously, my first reaction was thinking why he would think Detroit is a safer city than LA? Maybe it's because I live near Detroit and have been there and have seen the decline and fall of the city over the last couple of years. It's not like I go there on a regular basis, and it's not like it's ever been a really safe city to start off with, but over the last couple of years, you can clearly see the city struggling to better itself while at the same time falling apart at the seams. Maybe LeDuff really didn't know how bad things were when he decided to move home, but he certainly got a shock with how bad things are there, and through his journalist's eye, he takes us on a tour of some of the even less savory stories coming out of the city.What he shows us is a city in far worst shape than I had imagined. There seems to be corruption at every level of government, huge corporations that can barely manage to keep themselves afloat, the police and fire departments are using outdated or damaged equipment, violence running rampant in the streets, people too poor to bury their dead and leave the bodies in the morgue until they can scrape enough money together for a cremation. One almost begins to feel that there is no hope for the city of Detroit, and I found myself wondering throughout the book why LeDuff, or anyone living in Detroit for that matter, doesn't just pack up and leave? In the end, thought, LeDuff shows us that there are still a handful of good people in Detroit, and that there is a glimmer of hope, however small, and that maybe this is why people stay. Or maybe it's because Detroit is all they know. Or maybe it's because they are too poor to move away and are simply stuck in their situation. Sounds hopeless, right? That's how LeDuff's book is: It gives us a taste of something maybe good in the town, yet there is always something bad right around the corner to take it away.Personally, there's nothing redemptive for me about LeDuff's book. I feel like they should close down the city, move the people away, and let nature continue its reclamation. But where would the people go? Would their lives be bettered in any way by moving them to a new home? It's hard to say, but much like LeDuff tries in his way to do some good, I feel something should be done to the city.Anyway, I don't know that this is necessarily a hard book to read. LeDuff writes his book in much the same way I imagine he writes his columns for various news outlets: the sentences are short, to the point, and filled with what I perceive as journalistic tropes. But LeDuff gets his point across. I'm not really sure what the point is, as there seems to be no conclusion to his narrative, but I felt like I understood Detroit a little better after reading this book.