Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Review: Detroit: An American Autopsy - Charlie LeDuff

Its 11:22 pm

Detroit: An American Autopsy
Charlie LeDuff
The Penguin Press
287 pages

    I have often written on how lucky we Metro Detroiters are to have such great journalists. Each TV station here has several elite reporters who have won countless Emmy's and Pulitzer's. They are not afraid to write the truth or expose it and often go in harm's way to get the truth,no matter what.

 Sometimes in going after the monster a journalist must often ask themselves,am I becoming what I set out to expose? This is the central recurring theme in Charlie LeDuff's expose of Detroit,what is more broken,the city or myself?
  To say this was a hard and uncomfortable read is putting it lightly. Charlie opens the book with how he came to land back home in Detroit after stints with major newspapers in New York and Los Angeles.
His opening story is a pretty telling...trying just to get some gas and he almost gets robbed. If it wasn't for a fellow reporter's gun that Charlie (while not knowing if it was even loaded) pulls out,he would have been become the victim,just as so many people are in the city.
  Reading Charlie's book....three things become clear,the vein of corruption run deep in the city,there are some very dedicated men and women who fight fire and violence with the least amount of support and equipment and that Detroit is beyond saving,it really is the worst hell hole in America. The politicians who are supposed to be running this city are ripping it off by either stealing from it or worse,just don't care about the people.
   And the average citizen,they almost have no chance unless they move out from the city. They stay,they get caught up in the pure hopelessness that is Detroit.
 What really makes this a stunning read is Charlie himself,he is a true son of Detroit and his family reflects that...they are pretty a totally fucked group trying to hang to their sanity. Sadly,many of them don't..he writes how both his sister and her daughter both died horrible,empty deaths.His brothers are fighting to keep the American dream and not getting it.He is fighting his own demons,he knows he is slipping into alcoholism and he even writes about a drunken fight he has with his wife that lands him in jail.
  He rides along with the brave men of the Fire Department and writes of the heartbreak when one his friends  dies because a building falls on him. The fire was a arson that the building owner paid a man 20 bucks to set.
There are many other stories of sadness....there really isn't any Hollywood ending for Detroit.
Finding dead bodies half frozen in ice,following a strange case that sees a little girl get killed and how destroyed that family becomes. There are a few bright spots,the way the city sometimes will rally around a person who really needs it the most.
   But one comes away is the sense of hearing the death knells of once was the most important and richest city in America. And if we don't LEARN the lessons of Detroit,it could spread elsewhere.
Since this book has been published,we have seen even more corruption,more fire houses shut down,equipment stolen,police officers killed and a rampant,racist killing culture sweep the city. The so called "Men of God",the so called religious leaders have been shown to be just as greedy,vile and dishonest as any city leader.
  This is a powerful read book and I urge you all to check it out.

You can get this book at Amazon and most major bookstores (those that are left).

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