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  • Published: 10 January 2013
  • ISBN: 9781448137701
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

The Last Days of Detroit

Motor Cars, Motown and the Collapse of an Industrial Giant

A vibrant and authoritative sweep through the history, present day and future of an iconic city and its people.

Once America's capitalist dream town, the Silicon Valley of the Jazz Age, Detroit became the country's greatest urban failure, having fallen the longest and the furthest. The city of Henry Ford, modernity, and Motown found itself blighted by riots, arson, unemployment, crime and corruption.

But what happens to a once-great place after it has been used up and discarded? Who stays there to try to make things work again? And what sorts of newcomers are drawn there?

Mark Binelli returned to his native Detroit to explore the city's swathes of abandoned buildings, miles of urban prairie, and streets filled with wild dogs, to tell the story of the new society emerging from the debris. Here he chronicles Detroit with its urban farms and vibrant arts scene, Detroit as a laboratory for the post-industrial, post-recession world, Detroit reimagined as a city for a new century.

  • Published: 10 January 2013
  • ISBN: 9781448137701
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 352

About the author

Mark Binelli

Mark Binelli grew up in Detroit. He graduated from the University of Michigan and received an MFA from Columbia University. He writes for Rolling Stone magazine. He is the author of the novel Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die!

Praise for The Last Days of Detroit

A riveting and hugely unsettling guided tour through his dysfunctional, compulsively interesting home town... Binelli, journalist with Rolling Stone magazine, is not only a native son of Detroit, but also an acute and canny observer of its bracing dilapidation. And he is never less than informative when it comes to detailing its manifold quirks and strange historical nuances… Binelli constantly shows himself to be a hugely erudite yet eminently streetwise guide to the city in which he came of age. This is a clever, endlessly inventive, passionate tour through the most down-and-out yet plausibly possible of American cities

Douglas Kennedy, Times

A story of extremes, mapped out by a restrained, clear-headed guide who loves the city as much as he is baffled by it

Sean O’Hagan, Observer

This book could easily be an epitaph but Binelli finds green shoots of optimism sprouting up amid the debris

Mick Brown, Daily Telegraph

A superb, diligent, forensic, study of the fall of a great city

Jim Carroll, Irish Times

Binelli is a gifted storyteller... this is a story told with vitality, wit and affection… the reader cannot fail to be moved by his conclusion, rooted in Detroit’s own motto. Speramus meliora. We hope for better things

Melanie McGrath, Sunday Telegraph

Binelli is a Detroit native, and if he provides an authoritative portrait of urban cataclysm, he also faithfully charts the glorious rise of the Motor City… His account is often mesmerising in its shocking detail

Peter Carty, Independent on Sunday

Deeply intelligent, sceptical, passionate and informative. An important work of contemporary cultural analysis, it is also wonderfully entertaining

Kevin Powers, Sunday Business Post

Binelli’s compelling book is a nightmare vision of a city which refuses to die

David Sternhouse, Scotland on Sunday

Looks at what can be learnt from the very different history and experience of another doomed metropolis

Barnaby Rogerson, Sunday Telegraph Seven

With the acuity of Joan Didion and the controlled hilarity of Ian Frazier, Mark Binelli investigates the portents and absurdities of America’s most infamous urban calamity. Exhilarating in scope, irresistible for its intricate, scrupulous portraiture, [The Last Days of Detroit] is the masterful performance of one of our generation’s most humane and brilliant writers

Wells Tower, author of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

Let’s face it. Detroit City is not the place to be. But if you care about America you have to see it, to walk its desolate streets, to talk to the people who make it their home, to hear what it means to live on the wrong side of the post-industrial divide. And you’re not going to find a smarter, tougher, more entertaining guide than Mark Binelli

Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice

Mark Binelli has succeeded in synthesizing the tragedy and absurdity that Detroiters face each and every day in America’s fastest shrinking city. Yes, things are dire in Motor City, but Binelli refuses to perform an autopsy on a place that still radiates rage, pride, hustle, and hope. Detroit, he discovers, is very much alive

Heidi Ewing, director of Detropia

Before turning the buffalo (or the artists) loose on the haunted prairie that was once Detroit, we should ponder why a great American metropolis was allowed to die. Mark Binelli, Motor City native returned, provides a picaresque but unflinchingly honest look at the crime scene. Like Richard Pryor, he has the rare talent to make you laugh and cry at the same time

Mike Davis, author of Ecology of Fear

[The Last Days of Detroit] is a brilliant kaleidoscope of everything that is great, broken, inspiring, heart-breaking, and ultimately remarkable about Detroit. Mark Binelli has turned the story of the city, and by extension America, into a glorious, unforgettable work of art

Dinaw Mengestu, author of How to Read the Air

At once hilarious and sharp, sweeping and intimate, [The Last Days of Detroit] is an oddly delighted warning from the recent future. With the tender scrutiny of a returning exile, Mark Binelli has written a non-fiction novel about our American experiment, and it’s the most entertaining and persuasive book about this country I’ve read in a very long time

Gideon Lewis-Kraus, author of A Sense of Direction

Mark Binelli is a first-rate reporter, gifted with the ability to get almost anybody to open up. [The Last Days of Detroit] is searching, wide-angle, honest, deeply moving, and unshakably dark. It is a vivid slice of our time and implies a disquieting prophecy of the future

Luc Sante, author of Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York

An encounter with a longstanding black resident reveals underlying tensions “Detroit isn't some kind of abstract art project." Binelli's achievement is to make that vividly apparent

Andy Beckett, Guardian

Mark Binelli’s The Last Days of Detroit is a magnificent anthem to one of America’s most significant cities. He takes you on a tour into the dark heart of this once vibrant city, the home of the Ford car. This is a beautiful prose poem to a fascinating city and to post-industrial America

Patrick Neale, The Bookseller

Succeeds in bringing out angles on Detroit that at least this casual observer hadn’t heard before

Rose Jacobs

Both a history and a thoughtful travelogue… British readers might wonder what Detroit has to do with them, but the collapse of manufacturing, its yawning unemployed, the tension generated by a usually white liberal class who seize on gentrification possibilities (and the desire to turn dereliction into abstract art) are universal modern concerns

Claire Allfree, Metro

Mark Binelli’s surprisingly joyful book

Ed Caesar, Sunday Times

A remarkable trawl through the sorry and tragic recent history of a city that was once heralded as the future of the United States

Doug Johnstone, Big Issue

Binellis shows us that a brighter economic future may be possible even in the most benighted of cities

Rohan Silva, Prospect

The value of this book lies not just in its compelling story, but in its lessons for all the West

Robert Chesshyre, Literary Review

Now the city and above all its people have been brilliantly captured

David Goldblatt, Independent

[A] wry, inquisitive survey of Detroit's troubled past and present... Surprisingly joyful

Sunday Times

This journalistic account tells an enthralling, balanced story

Daily Telegraph

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