'Once in a Great City' Explores Detroit at its Peak

Oct 8, 2015

Maraniss' new book explores Detroit at its peak in the early 1960s.
Credit Simon & Schuster Publishers

Detroit was once the industrial heart of America, the giant of the world’s auto industry, and the driving beat of Motown.  As the city narrative goes, those days have passed and the city sits like a veritable ghost town on the left bank of the Detroit River.

However, Pulitzer Prize winning writer David Maraniss wouldn’t have you throw that narrative out completely. The Madison writer was born in Detroit and explored the city's pivotal time in history - the early 1960s in his new book called, Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story. Maraniss weaves together the complicated tapestry of the time, and relates it to where Detroit and America are today.

"I think Detroit is emblematic of both the promise of America and the problems of this country," says Maraniss. "(The city shows) all the things that it gave to us and then the urban ailments that are sort of exaggerated in Detroit."

David Maraniss will talk about his new book, Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story, Thursday evening in Centennial Hall at the Milwaukee Public Library.