Once America's "arsenal of democracy," Detroit over the last fifty years has become the symbol of the American urban crisis. In this reappraisal of racial and economic inequality in modern America, Thomas Sugrue explains how Detroit and many other once prosperous industrial cities have become the sites of persistent racialized poverty. He challenges the conventional wisdom that urban decline is the product of the social programs and racial fissures of the 1960s. Probing beneath the veneer of 1950s prosperity and social consensus, Sugrue traces the rise of a new ghetto, solidified by changes in the urban economy and labor market and by racial and class segregation.
In this provocative revision of postwar American history, Sugrue finds cities already fiercely divided by race and devastated by the exodus of industries. He focuses on urban neighborhoods, where white working-class homeowners mobilized to prevent integration as blacks tried to move out of the crumbling and overcrowded inner city. Weaving together the history of workplaces, unions, civil rights groups, political organizations, and real estate agencies, Sugrue finds the roots of today's urban poverty in a hidden history of racial violence, discrimination, and deindustrialization that reshaped the American urban landscape after World War II.
This Princeton Classics edition includes a new preface by Sugrue, discussing the lasting impact of the postwar transformation on urban America and the chronic issues leading to Detroit's bankruptcy.
Thomas J. Sugrue is the David Boies Professor of History and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race (Princeton) and Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North.
Praise for Princeton's previous edition:"[Sugrue's] disciplined historical engagement with a complex, often inglorious, past offers a compelling model for understanding how race and the Rust Belt converged to create the current impasse."--America
Praise for Princeton's previous edition: "A splendid book that does no less than transform our understanding of United States history after 1940."--Labor History
Praise for Princeton's previous edition: "[A] first-rate account . . . . With insight and elegance, Sugrue describes the street-by-street warfare to maintain housing values against the perceived encroachment of blacks trying desperately to escape the underbuilt and overcrowded slums."--Choice
Praise for Princeton's previous edition: "Perhaps by offering a clearer picture of how the urban crisis began, Sugrue brings us a bit closer to finding a way to end it."--In These Times
Praise for Princeton's previous edition: "[T]he most interesting, informative, and provocative book on modern Detroit."--Detroit Free Press
Praise for Princeton's previous edition: "Superbly researched and engagingly written."--Reviews in American History
Praise for Princeton's previous edition: "[A] devastating critique of the currently fashionable 'culture of poverty' thesis. Must reading for anyone concerned about the current urban crisis."--Jacqueline Jones, Lingua Franca
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Thomas J. Sugrue: