David Maraniss on Detroit

–submitted by Carol Toussaint

You could tell by the number of people working their way around the Inn on the Park construction site that the speaker on this Wednesday had attracted a crowd.  Indeed, one of Madison’s favorite sons was there again to share insights captured in a new book, ONCE in a GREAT CITY, a Detroit StoryDavid Maraniss was back with another great story for Rotarians and their guests.

As his talk revealed, Maraniss was more interested in why things had happened in and to Detroit than to simply chronicle the events that brought down a great city. In the author’s note to his book he wrote that “the city itself is the main character in this urban biography, though the populace includes many larger-than-life figures.”   These individuals played key roles in the drama that was Detroit in 1962-64.  We met them Wednesday and learned some surprising things about the many ways each contributed to the vibrant city.

Whether it was the story of the launching of the Ford Mustang or the touching memories that talented performers shared about the creative side of the city, Maraniss researched through interviews as well as documents.  The migration of African Americans from the South to jobs in Detroit influenced the development of the Motown music and the stories of the prominent stars, many of whom rose from modest beginnings, are well represented in the book.

Reading Maraniss’ book is a bit like receiving a postcard from your favorite cousin who visited Detroit in 1963 and reported that “it had everything!”  Rotarians got a sense of what was behind the “everything” and enjoyed the inside view of it all.

Did you miss our meeting this week?  CLICK to watch the video.

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