Once in a Great City

Once in a Great City

A Detroit Story

By David Maraniss

Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781476748382, 464pp.

Publication Date: September 15, 2015

Description
* Winner - Robert F. Kennedy Book Award (2016) *
Elegiac and richly detailed... Maraniss] succeeds with authoritative, adrenaline-laced flair...evocative. Michiko Kakutani for "The New York Times"
As David Maraniss captures it with power and affection, Detroit summed up America's path to music and prosperity that was already past history.
It's 1963 and Detroit is on top of the world. The city's leaders are among the most visionary in America: Grandson of the first Ford; Henry Ford II; influential labor leader Walter Reuther; Motown's founder Berry Gordy; the Reverend C.L. Franklin and his daughter, the amazing Aretha; Governor George Romney, Mormon and Civil Rights advocate; super car salesman Lee Iacocca; Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, a Kennedy acolyte; Police Commissioner George Edwards; Martin Luther King. It was the American auto makers best year; the revolution in music and politics was underway. Reuther's UAW had helped lift the middle class.
The time was full of promise. The auto industry was selling more cars than ever before and inventing the Mustang. Motown was capturing the world with its amazing artists. The progressive labor movement was rooted in Detroit with the UAW. Martin Luther King delivered his I Have a Dream speech there two months before he made it famous in the Washington march.
"Once in a Great City" shows that the shadows of collapse were evident even then. Before the devastating riot. Before the decades of civic corruption and neglect, and white flight. Before people trotted out the grab bag of rust belt infirmities from harsh weather to high labor costs and competition from abroad to explain Detroit's collapse, one could see the signs of a city's ruin. Detroit at its peak was threatened by its own design. It was being abandoned by the new world. Yet so much of what Detroit gave America lasts.


About the Author
Born in Detroit, David Maraniss is an associate editor at "The Washington Post". Maraniss is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and bestselling author of "Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story"; "First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton"; "Rome 1960: The Olympics that Stirred the World;" "Barack Obama: The Story"; "Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball s Last Hero"; "They Marched into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967"; and" When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi", which was hailed by "Sports Illustrated" as maybe the best sports biography ever published. He lives in Washington, DC, and Madison, Wisconsin.


NPR
Thursday, Jan 14, 2016

David Greene talks to journalist David Maraniss about a key moment when Detroit seemed to rule the world. Maraniss has written a history of Detroit's commerce and culture called Once in a Great City. More at NPR.org

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