Read Detroit



The Kwame Sutra (2009) - By M. L. Elrick and Jim Schaefer

“Through public pronouncements, candid asides, unscripted outbursts and secret text messages, "The Kwame Sutra" provides a 3-D portrait of Detroit's youngest elected mayor, from his stunning rise to power to the self-induced, cataclysmic crash that landed him in the Wayne County Jail. It's all here, in graphic detail, in the man's own words, in one handsome volume.” – Excerpt from the books website.

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Getting Ghost: Two Young Lives and the Struggle for the Soul of an American City (2008) - By Luke Bergmann, Ph.D.

“Postapocalyptic” Detroit – infamous for its abandoned buildings, empty lots, and blighted streets – may be the only American city to have earned such an epithet. As a teenager who frequently visited Detroit with his Father, Luke Bergmann saw the devastation caused by the collapse of the automobile industry. Years later, he returned to the city as an anthropologist to study the incarceration of inner-city youth, and his research connected him with two teenage drug dealers, Dude Freeman and Rodney Phelps. For nearly three years Bergmann lived on the city’s West Side, hanging out with Dude and Rodney, driving around, hearing their stories and dreams, and witnessing the intricacies of Detroit’s urban drug trade. Bergmann is soon more than an observer, as he intervenes with Dude’s probation officer when he misses a hearing and becomes Rodney’s only contact when he flees the city to escape criminal charges. Through it all, he strives to understand their lives, their families and the neighborhoods they call home.

Detroit Divided (2000) - By Reynolds Farley, Sheldon Danziger, and Harry J. Holzer

Farley, Danziger, and Holzer (sociologists from the U. of Michigan and an economist at Michigan State U., respectively) chart the rise and fall of the economic fortunes of the metropolis and analyze the area's current prospects, including signs of a nascent recovery, based on six decades of census data and surveys of employers and households. Links are examined between labor market disadvantages, residential segregation, and exclusionary racial views in the current economy.

The passing of Detroit's manufacturing heyday stranded many workers who once earned good union wages. The authors explain why white auto workers adjusted to these new conditions more easily than blacks. With better access to education and suburban home loans, white men migrated into skilled jobs on the city's outskirts, while blacks faced the twin barriers of higher skill demands and hostile suburban neighborhoods. Some blacks have prospered despite this racial divide: a black elite has emerged, and the shift in the city toward municipal and service jobs has allowed black women to approach parity of earnings with white women. But Detroit remains polarized racially, economically, and geographically to a degree seen in few other American cities.

The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Post-War Detroit (1996) - By Thomas J. Sugrue

Once America's "arsenal of democracy," Detroit over the last fifty years has become the symbol of the American urban crisis. In this reappraisal of racial and economic inequality in modern America, Thomas Sugrue explains how Detroit and many other once prosperous industrial cities have become the sites of persistent racialized poverty. He challenges the conventional wisdom that urban decline is the product of the social programs and racial fissures of the 1960s. Probing beneath the veneer of 1950s prosperity and social consensus, Sugrue traces the rise of a new ghetto, solidified by changes in the urban economy and labor market and by racial and class segregation.

In this provocative revision of postwar American history, Sugrue finds cities already fiercely divided by race and devastated by the exodus of industries. He focuses on urban neighborhoods, where white working-class homeowners mobilized to prevent integration as blacks tried to move out of the crumbling and overcrowded inner city. Weaving together the history of workplaces, unions, civil rights groups, political organizations, and real estate agencies, Sugrue finds the roots of today's urban poverty in a hidden history of racial violence, discrimination, and deindustrialization that reshaped the American urban landscape after World War II.

Violence in the Model City (1989) - By Sidney Fine

On July 23, 1967, the Detroit police raided a blind pig (after-hours drinking establishment), touching off the most destructive urban riot of the 1960s. It took the U.S. Army, the Michigan National Guard, the state police, and the Detroit police department - 17,000 men - more than a week to restore order. When all was done, the riot had claimed 43 lives (mostly black) and resulted in nearly 700 injuries. Over 7,000 individuals were arrested, with property damage estimates over $75 million. Yet, Detroit had been lauded nationally as a "model city" in the governance of a large industrial metropolis. On the 40th anniversary of this nation-changing event, we are pleased to reissue Sidney Fine's seminal work - a detailed study of what happened, why, and with what consequences.

Detroit: I Do Mind Dying (1975) - By Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin

Since its publication in 1975, Detroit: I Do Mind Dying has been widely recognized as one of the most important books on the black liberation movement and labor struggles in the United States.

Detroit: I Do Mind Dying tells the remarkable story of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement, based in Detroit, and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, two of the most important political organizations of the 1960s and 1970s.

Window 2 My Soul (2010) by Yusef Shakur

"The Window 2 My Soul" is a raw unvarnished autobiography of Yusef Shakur. It’s an epic journey of hope, triumph, redemption, and transformation. It is a look at life on the streets of Detroit and how the cycle of fatherless households, street thug mentality, and prisons perpetuate. Yusef was on that path. With his father in prison he was forced to learn what it meant to be a man from the streets and became a ‘Zone 8” Thug’. This led to him being convicted for a crime he did not commit and in prison where he met his father face-to-face for the first time.

Most of what this book offers is to other young men who are going through the same thing. Yusef’s story is one of hope and transformation from a “Zone 8” Thug to an Afrikan Revolutionary. Unlike many young men who become better criminals or more inhuman in prison, he used his time to become educated and to expand his mind.  What he learned changed the way he looked at his world.”  - Marci Savage, Detroit Entertainment Examiner

The book is a highly revealing look at the experience of many Black youth in Detroit, of institutional racism in Michigan and America, and the strength of spirit, mind and body that is required to overcome these enormous obstacles.

The Detroit Almanac (2000) - By Peter Gavrilovich and Bill McGraw

The Detroit Almanac is the most comprehensive reference book ever assembled on the metro area, with more than 1,000 photos and graphics covering Southeastern Michigan's three eventful centuries.

American Odyssey (1974) - By Robert Canot

This is a comprehensive history of the city of Detroit focused on the period from the US occupation of the city to 1967. If you are writing extensively about the city, this book is worth your time.

 –Reynolds Farley (see more at

The Rise and Fall of an Urban School System: Detroit, 1907-1981 (1994) - By Jeffrey Mirel

Detroit's public school system, lauded as a model for the nation in the 1920s and 1930s, has become one of the city's most conspicuous failures. Jeffrey Mirel draws on Detroit's experience to offer a new interpretation of urban educational decline in the twentieth century, suggesting specific answers to what ails America's public schools and how public education can be improved.

Stanford University and the American Educational Research Association awarded the book the 1994-95 "Outstanding Book Award" stating, "Mirel's documentation and interpretations serve as valuable and refreshing commentary on the current status of urban education, and by extension, all American education and society... The book is admirably written with touches of drama, pathos, and hope." The American Educational Studies Association awarded Mirel the 1994 "Critics' Choice Award" for his outstanding contribution to Educational Studies.?This new paperback edition includes a comprehensive epilogue focusing on recent events in Detroit educational reform. Detailing the formation and rapid collapse of a campaign in the late 1980s and early 1990s to radically restructure the Detroit public schools, Mirel's new analysis of this experiment illuminates both the persistence of historical trends in the school district and the possibilities for change.?

Made in Detroit : A South of 8 Mile Memoir (2005) - By Paul Clemens

This is an exceptionally thoughtful account of growing up as a white person on the east side of Detroit during the 1980s and 1990s.  If you are interested in personal memories that describe important social and racial urban issue, you will find this book exceptionally interesting. 

 –Reynolds Farley (see more at

Coleman Young and Detroit Politics: From Social Activist to Power Broker (1989) - By Wilbur C. Rich

Coleman Young (1919-1997), elected Detroit's first black mayor in 1973, was the city's longest-serving chief executive. Contentious and contradictory, he was, nonetheless, a savvy and convincing politician. Wilbur C. Rich delivers the first serious biography of this powerful and fascinating political figure.?Abandoned by many labor-organizing colleagues during the Red Scare of the 1950s, Young rescued himself from the purgatory of McCarthyism to become a major power broker in Michigan politics and in the National Democratic Party.?

Rich combines biography with political analysis. He outlines the basic strategy underlying Young's approach to policy making and traces the economic changes in the city before and after Young's rise to power. Rich challenges conventional wisdom on the limits of mayoral power and examines Young's role in three key policy areas: affirmative action, economic redevelopment, and the city's fiscal crises.

Hard Stuff: The Autobiography of Mayor Coleman Young (1994)

This is Mayor Young’s autobiography.  It is a very interesting book and provides important insights into the political development of Mayor Young and the challenges he faced while in office.

 –Reynolds Farley (see more at

(The) Quotations of Mayor Coleman A. Young (2005) - Edited by Bill McGraw

Mayor Young did not always speak in politically correct language. 

 –Reynolds Farley (see more at

This is Detroit, 1701-2001 - By Arthur M. Woodford

An illustrated history of Detroit from 1701 to the present. As it celebrates the three hundredth anniversary of its founding, Detroit can look back on its rise from frontier outpost to industrial metropolis. That evolution is captured in this book that traces the entire history of Detroit from its founding in 1701 to the present. Arthur M. Woodford takes readers back to the days of Cadillac's settlement and leads them through Detroit's transition from French village to British fort to American town. As the city's history unfolds, he describes the issues facing its inhabitants in different eras, including westward expansion, the Civil War, the Great Depression, and two world wars. He also emphasizes the many contributions of Detroit business and industry - particularly the automobile revolution - to the nation's development and establishes the city's place in the labor and civil rights movements. Woodford brings his history up to the present day by surveying Detroit's new cultural landscape, focusing on its current renaissance. Written in a brisk, engaging style and filled with historic illustrations and photographs, Woodford's work is an enjoyable and authoritative overview that captures the wide scope and great variety of a proud and multifaceted city. Published under the auspices of Detroit 300, this handsome volume is a highlight of the city's tricentennial celebration, presenting Detroit's best face to the world - and to the future...

The Detroit Riot of 1967 (1969) - By Hubert G. Locke

Hubert Locke was the administrative assistant to the chief of police during the riots. In this work, he thoroughly documents the events of that week and the immediate aftermath.





Who Killed Detroit (2005) - By Johannes F Spreen (Author), Diane Holloway Ph.D. (Contributor)

Who Killed Detroit explains how the automobile industry, migration of blacks, housing segregation, riot of 1967, rise of radical groups, and the resulting reactions since then have left this great city in shambles. No other American city has offered so much to so many in the first half of the twentieth century. And no other city has collapsed as completely as Detroit in the second half of the twentieth century. Who Killed Detroit explores what can be learned to prevent a similar fate in other cities. Former Detroit Police Commissioner Spreen reveals secret documents that explain the operations of groups that killed Detroit. Blame is laid at the feet of politicians, the press, pressure groups, the police and the people. Rumors that have floated about for 40 years are put to rest. Spreen and Holloway shed light on the forces and psychological factors that bring a city down. They examine problems that still exist and threaten the survival and progress of the city. They also list preventive actions that cities can take to avoid a similar fate.

Whose Detroit: Politics, Labor and Race in a Modern American City (2004) - By Heather Ann Thompson

Using as a pivot the spectacular riots that gripped Detroit in July 1967, Thompson casts the Motor City turned murder capital as a symbol of America's post-1945 urban crisis. She traces Detroit's fragmented civic, labor, and racial politics from the 1930s through the 1980s to argue that more than black-white racial polarization determined the transformation of American inner cities. Thompson argues that Detroit and other northern cities in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s were battlegrounds between contradictory visions of a revolutionary, uplifting Great Society and of a reactionary, repressive, law-and-order society. The clashes were no less divisive and fierce than those of the Civil Rights Movement, which were occurring in the South at that time. On city streets and shop floors and in courtrooms, the struggle for equitable housing, worker dignity, and an end to discrimination and police brutality enlisted a biracial cast of reformers, she argues, while featuring the determination of a militant black middle class. Thompson's engrossing work challenges an array of interpretations about postwar urban America, race relations, labor relations, the triumph of Reagan conservatism, and more. Essential for any collection on the history, politics, or society of post-World War II America. Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe

Detroit Perspectives: Crossroads and Turning Points (1991) - by Wilma Wood Henrickson

Using primary and secondary sources, Wilma Henrickson assembles a collection of documents related to decisive moments in the history of Detroit and the region, spanning the time from before statehood to the present. These were turning points for the region—life for the residents took a new direction, definitely closing off some options while accepting others. Some were brought about by accident; others were made by conscious decision. The consequences of some decisions were immediate; others appeared only after the accumulation of years. Among Henrickson's recurring themes are the destruction of the environment and its natural beauty, the lure of wealth, urban expansion and sprawl and civil rights.
Selections include Lewis Cass' position paper on "Indian Removal," Jorge de Castellanos' article of "Black Slavery in Early Detroit," and excerpts from the writings of historian and mapmaker Silas farmer.

-Wayne State University Press

Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age (2004) by Kevin Boyle

In the steamy summer of 1925, Detroit, like many northern cities, was in the throes of rising tension from racism as native-born whites, immigrants, and blacks, drawn by the flourishing automobile industry, jockeyed for jobs and housing in the teeming metropolis. In the jazz-age era of changing social mores and rising expectations, Dr. Ossian Sweet, grandson of a slave, attempted to move into a working-class white neighborhood. His neighbors, fanned into a panic by avaricious real-estate brokers and the growing presence of the Ku Klux Klan, threaten Sweet and his family with violent eviction. In self-defense, Sweet and his friends arm themselves and end up killing a member of the mob. The murder indictment of Sweet, his wife, and their defenders attracts Clarence Darrow as defense attorney and the newly organized NAACP, which was in the midst of a national campaign against racial restrictions in housing. Boyle, a history professor, brings immediacy and drama to the social and economic factors that ignited racial violence, provoked the compelling court case, and set in motion the civil rights struggle.

-Vanessa Bush (booklist)


The Rise and Fall of an Urban Empire (2010) by Courtney R. Brown Jr. and Anita L. Flanagan

Eddie 'The Fat Man' Jackson and Courtney 'The Field Marshal' Brown were labeled 'Kingpins' in an era where their names reigned supreme in Detroit. Accumulating more than a million dollars a month in heroin sales, these childhood friends lived lavish, privileged lifestyles.
Surrounded by some of the greatest entertainers of that time including, The Temptations, Red Foxx, Richard Pryor, The OJays and writer Donald Goines to name but a handful, their customer base was a virtual who's who. After countless Federal and local investigations, paid informants, accusations of police corruption and Grand Jury appearances, The Fat Man and The Field Marshal were finally sentenced to double-digit prison terms.

– Self described

Why our drug laws have failed and what we can do about it (2001) - By James P. Gray

As provocative and topical as the film Traffic, here's a scathing jeremiad against the war on drugs, notable both for the author's position and for the sustained anger of its argument. Following his career as a federal prosecutor and a trial judge, Gray, now a California Superior Court justice, is struck by the revelation that the so-called war on drugs was "wasting unimaginable amounts of our tax dollars, increasing crime and despair and severely and unnecessarily harming people's lives... the worst of all worlds." He effectively documents a growing coalition of often conservative lawyers, legislators and justices who view the drug war's impotent dream of national abstinence as folly and its shadow effects (from imprisonment of nonviolent offenders to diversion of law enforcement resources) as dangers to liberty. Gray writes with the courage of his convictions, bluntly addressing the most controversial elements of the drug war. For example, he asserts that politicians offer slavish loyalty to the drug war because it is "fundable," not because it is winnable. Similarly, Gray details how drug prosecutions have both whittled away at constitutional protections and corrupted many police agencies. He even takes the radical step of humanizing drug users. Without assuming a libertarian stance, he establishes that the risks to an individual who is determined to use drugs are dwarfed by the harm caused to the community by overaggressive policing and the criminal economy. Gray's crisp prose is mercifully short on legalese, and his book has the structural clarity of an accessible legal text. This quality, and the sensible passion of Gray's conclusions, will make this a crucial reference for those politicians, voters, activists and law enforcement agencies seeking to reform established policy.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

High Society (2002) - By Joseph A. Califano Jr.

It's hard to argue with Califano's thesis, that substance abuse is a huge, expensive and often tragic problem in the U.S., particularly when it affects children; best known for declaring cigarettes "public health enemy number one" as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Califano is clearly passionate, well-meaning and unafraid to think big: "We must end our denial, stamp out the stigma, rethink our concept of crime and confront this plague." His sincerity and conviction is a two-edged sword, however: he comes off big-hearted one minute ("I am calling for...acceptance of such abuse and addiction as a chronic disease"), humorless and out of touch the next ("Movies like 40 Year Old Virgin and Wedding Crashers play excessive alcohol use for laughs"). And though he does take a chapter to address the "sharp edges" of marijuana use and warn against its (non-medical) legalization, he otherwise lumps all addictive substances into a single category; specificity goes instead into the details, costs and attendant statistics of (mostly failed) anti-abuse programs and legislation. Proposed solutions tend toward the general: more and better education, standardized professional training for therapists, eliminating tobacco and alcohol money from politics and "curbing availability and attractiveness." As a wonky primer to one culture warrior's approach to America's drug problem, this volume is informative, if familiar. ?

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Raising Drug Free Kids (2006) - By Joseph A. Califano Jr.

There are so many negatives to the war on drugs, and one is that it has lead to an utter mis-education of modern drug addiction. If we are not prepared to protect the younger generation from the greatest health problem in the world, then we will undoubtedly pay for it going forward.

“Teens and college students are surrounded by drugs and alcohol, in school, at play, even at home. As a physician specializing in adolescents, I know that since they have to deal with this problem, then as a parent so do you. How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid provides the practical advice and information that every parent needs. If you read only one book, this is the one.”

-Ralph I Lopez