Mark Binelli’s brilliant, but disturbing, portrait of Detroit explores the city’s history and its future. Binelli grew up in Detroit and his familiarity with the city shows on every page. Here’s a sample of Binelli’s acute analysis:
More often, anti-crime measures in Detroit did not resemble para-military raids so much as containment policies. A certain degree of crime could be ignored as long as the fulcrum of change in Detroit (downtown, the university district, and the handful of other neighborhoods where the city’s elite actually live) remained safe and relatively unaffected. Short of fundamentally changing the underlying conditions producing such high levels of violence and illegal activity in the first place, policing could do ony so much, so the best-case scenario amounted to hoping the criminals stuck to killing one another and kept the collateral damage to a minimum. (p. 223)
Throughout his narrative, Binelli sprinkles in a sample of horrific Detroit crimes: the dismemberment of a barber, the car jacking of white students, the Chief of Police mugged while mowing his lawn. A crack-addict and his girl friend argue about which channel to watch on Valentine’s Day. The crack-head kills his girl-friend, takes her to an abandoned building (90,000 of them in Detroit), and burns the body. The crime is discovered when a 911 call reported a dog running around with the burnt arm in its mouth.