March is National Reading Month and what better way to celebrate than catching up on some good reads? If you are from Detroit, this list of books may look familiar. If you are not from Detroit, it may make you wish you were.
A city full of history, beautiful architecture and an unwavering spirit, this list of page turners will be sure to strengthen your knowledge on the resurgence of Detroit as well as its hidden gems and lost treasures.
First, is a book that tells the tale of Detroit during its early years. “Detroit: A Biography,” discusses the city and its French roots. Written by author Scott Martelle, this book takes the reader on a historic ride to Detroit’s foundation 75 years before the formation of the United States.
Originally published by the Chicago Review Press in 2012, “Detroit: A Biography,” dives deep into topics such as British rule, the 1943 Riot, the automotive and industrial industries, as well as the competition for employment during the Great Depression. In 288-pages, this book will take you on a ride through the ups and downs of the city from a historical perspective and provide an in-depth look at some of Detroit’s most notable players such as John C. Lodge and Walter P. Chrysler.
Next, is a book that highlights Detroit’s former treasures. These buildings may still stand, long since been demolished, or may have even been repurposed. “Lost Detroit: Stories Behind the Motor City’s Majestic Ruins,” tells a story, mostly through pictures, of 12 of Detroit’s most iconic, but forgotten architectural landmarks. Although the structure still may exist, the hustle and bustle in these lost gems have vanished.
Written by Dan Austin, with photography by Sean Doerr, buildings such as the Belle Isle Casino, the Pontchartrain Hotel and the historic Michigan Theater come to life in this new-age picture-book. Each building tells a story of its era in this 176-page turner. Originally published in 2013 by The History Press, this book provides readers with a full history of each structure as well as vibrant images of the old Detroit.
Detroit is a city on the rise and “Detroit: The Dream Is Now: The Design, Art and Resurgence of an American City,” tells that story. Through pictures, author Michel Arnaud outlines the rebuilding of a city thought to be lost. The book is broken down to give each portion of Detroit the attention it deserves; the arts, food and famous Detroit staples such as The Renaissance Center and The Fox Theater.
The most recently published book on this list (April 2017), “Detroit: The Dream Is Now: The Design, Art and Resurgence of an American City,” is able to give a current account of an ever-changing city. The 272-page book provides colorful photos of Detroit’s rebirth and even highlights dPop, who’s been responsible for the interior design aesthetic of many downtown properties..
Author, Richard Dauch, offers a remedy for Detroit’s economic downfall in this next book. “American Drive: How Manufacturing Will Save Our Country,” lets the reader in on the automotive industry and how it helped to turn Detroit around. This book explores automaker super giants General Motors as well as Chrysler. The author also introduces a new player, which he purchased and turned into a multi-million dollar company – American Axle and Manufacturing.
With beginnings in GM and Chrysler, Dauch takes his knowledge and begins to build what he believes will rival the big three. With 349-pages, published in September 2012 by St. Martin’s Press, the book lets the reader in on one of the automotive industry’s CEOs through his successes and failure building American Axel Manufacturing.
Lastly, the following book is written by those who make Detroit the city it is – the residents. “A Detroit Anthology,” is comprised of stories from teachers, students, new Detroit dwellers as well as established residents. In addition to a collection of stories, there are also essays and poems by activist Grace Lee Boggs and Michigan-born Tracie McMillan.
Edited by Detroit journalist Anna Clark, the 240-pages are filled with personal accounts of the city told by those who would know it best. In her introduction, Clark explains to the reader how stories outlined in the book are gathered from personal conversations at coffeehouses, porches and city bus stops, which gives the book a unique feel.
Each of these books will give a behind-the-scenes look into a city with a rich history and ever growing future. What are your favorite Detroit books? Let us know in the comments below!