The Origins of the Urban Crisis

The Origins of the Urban Crisis

Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit

By Thomas J. Sugrue; Ira Katznelson (Editor); Martin Shefter (Editor)

Princeton University Press, Paperback, 9780691121864, 375pp.

Publication Date: August 2005


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.

In a new preface, Sugrue discusses the ongoing legacies of the postwar transformation of urban America and engages recent scholars who have joined in the reassessment of postwar urban, political, social, and African American history.

About the Author
Thomas J. Sugrue is Professor of History and Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University, specializing in twentieth-century American politics, urban history, civil rights, and race. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Society of American Historians, and past president of both the Urban History Association and the Social Science History Association. He is author of Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race and Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North. His first book, The Origins of the Urban Crisis, won the Bancroft Prize in American History, the Philip Taft Prize in Labor History, and the President's Book Award of the Social Science History Association, among other honors. In 2005, Princeton University Press selected The Origins of the Urban Crisis as one of its 100 most influential books of the past hundred years.

Andreas Kalyvas is Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics at The New School for Social Research and the Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts. He is the recipient of the 2002 Leo Strauss Award for the best doctoral dissertation in the field of political philosophy and the author of Democracy and the Politics of the Extraordinary: Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, Hannah Arendt (2008).

Martin Shefter is a professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University. He has also written "Patronage and its Opponents, Politics by Other Means: the Declining Importance of elections in America," and "Global City: the Economic, Political, and Cultural Influence of New York,"