The Last Days of Detroit by Mark Binelli

Detroit. Bankrupt, abandoned, and perhaps dying. Yet once it was one of the great cities in the USA. I have never been there, perhaps I never will. But I have a long-lasting fascination with cities being reclaimed. Both by nature and by people.

In his book, Binelli briefly describes a few others with similar interests. Some are Europeans and Scandinavians coming to live in Detroit to study it first hand. Young, well-educated, interested in the new city. Others are urban explorers; sometimes foolishly searching out abandoned buildings. Then there are the artists, and the hipsters. But this is just a small part of the book, and not all of these archetypes gets painted in the best light. Because Detroit still have many Detroiters living there, and The Last Days of Detroit is about them. About Firemen, politicians, and mostly everyday people. Those who still live and work there; and, about the city itself of course.

Binelli grew up in Detroit and the book is also about the city's recent history, where it is heading, and why. He doesn't judge but does his best to present the situation as complex and strange as it apparently is. What emerges is a fractured picture, but to me also the message that if Detroit is going to be a great city again it will not happen exclusively by inviting the art scene to move up there, nor by politicians privatising everything in sight, but by some other way yet not perceived clearly.

Perhaps as with most such things it is only seen as a road in hindsight. This is a decent book if you are interested in the fate of Detroit and probably several other great cities.