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Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage

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Overview

Suzette Kelo was just trying to rebuild her life when she purchased a falling down Victorian house perched on the waterfront in New London, CT. The house wasn't particularly fancy, but with lots of hard work Suzette was able to turn it into a home that was important to her, a home that represented her new found independence.

Little did she know that the City of New London, desperate to revive its flailing economy, wanted to raze her house and the others like it that sat along ...

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Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage

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Overview

Suzette Kelo was just trying to rebuild her life when she purchased a falling down Victorian house perched on the waterfront in New London, CT. The house wasn't particularly fancy, but with lots of hard work Suzette was able to turn it into a home that was important to her, a home that represented her new found independence.

Little did she know that the City of New London, desperate to revive its flailing economy, wanted to raze her house and the others like it that sat along the waterfront in order to win a lucrative Pfizer pharmaceutical contract that would bring new business into the city. Kelo and fourteen neighbors flat out refused to sell, so the city decided to exercise its power of eminent domain to condemn their homes, launching one of the most extraordinary legal cases of our time, a case that ultimately reached the United States Supreme Court.

In Little Pink House, award-winning investigative journalist Jeff Benedict takes us behind the scenes of this case — indeed, Suzette Kelo speaks for the first time about all the details of this inspirational true story as one woman led the charge to take on corporate America to save her home.

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Editorial Reviews

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The arresting story of how a single woman's struggle to keep a small cottage evolved into a landmark case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The little pink house on this book's cover belonged to Suzette Kelo; or at least, so she believed. In 1997, this strong-minded EMT left a troubled marriage and bought a modest cottage in working-class New London, Connecticut. She was still settling in when the city's development corporation threatened to invoke its right to eminent domain to force home owners to make way for a giant Pfizer research complex. Refusing to abandon her newfound home, Kelo joined neighbors in legal actions that eventually landed her case in the United States Supreme Court. Even a historic Court decision, however, did not bring final resolution. In fact, as award-winning journalist Jeff Benedict notes in this powerful book, the saga of the little pink house has implications that none of us can ignore.
Dahlia Lithwick
Benedict has pieced together a fascinating narrative, using e-mail messages, planning documents, interviews and personal diaries to produce a sordid account of ruthless local politicians working hand-in-medical-glove with big business to drive hard-working Americans from their homes…As a story about injustice, Little Pink House is a success. Nobody can be immune to the plucky redhead, the zany deli owner or the terrified senior citizens, battling to live quietly in the homes they love.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Benedict (The Mormon Way of Doing Business) has taken a complicated court case centered on eminent domain and turned it into a page-turner with a conscience. In 1997, an EMT named Susette Kelo left her husband, bought a cottage and started over in the economically depressed Ft. Trumbull neighborhood of New London, Conn. In February 1998, the New London Development Corporation began trying to muscle the neighborhood into selling homes to make way for a Pfizer research complex. Benedict's passionate account is rife with heroes and villains-he delights in pillorying Kelo's foil, Claire Gaudiani, the president of Connecticut College who lured Pfizer to consider New London. The fight escalated when the city tried exercising eminent domain to seize the homes of Kelo and others who refused to sell, leading to the case, Kelo v. City of New London, reaching the Supreme Court in 2005. Raising important questions about the use of economic development as a justification for displacing citizens, this book will leave readers indignant and inspired. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Investigative journalist Benedict (The Mormon Way of Doing Business: How Eight Western Boys Reached the Top of Corporate America, 2007, etc.) explores the drama behind a controversial Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain. In a country where home ownership is an unofficial article of faith, the prospect of the state seizing private property to make room for a highway or school is grudgingly tolerated at best. But Benedict's painstaking reconstruction shows the city of New London, Conn., successfully pushing the definition of "public use" to new extremes by condemning a collection of small homes in a low-income neighborhood as a means of generating more tax dollars. Once reclaimed, this prime waterfront land would become a corporate campus for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The author brings his highly technical subject to life through the passion of his central characters: two women who scarcely met but spent years locked in conflict. Goliath was Claire Gaudiani, the sexy, charismatic and manipulative president of Connecticut College who also headed the New London Development Commission. She saw the state's power of eminent domain as the perfect tool for refashioning New London into a "hip little city." That kind of city, the residents of the doomed Fort Trumbull neighborhood bitterly concluded, had room only for "higher income people." The David in this unfair fight was divorced nurse Susette Kelo, owner of the eponymous Little Pink House. After personally renovating her tumbledown historic home, she was deaf to all offers and threats, telling one reporter, "they can have my house when they take the keys out of my cold, dead hands." Local politics, public relations wars, sit-ins,Congressional hearings and a 60 Minutes feature eventually propelled the case to the Supreme Court, where the homeowners lost. "The specter of condemnation [now] hangs over all property," wrote Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in her dramatic dissent from Kelo v. New London, which remains a highly controversial decision. Capably presented account of a complex legal case that would have been even more compelling if it were shorter. Agent: Basil Kane
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446508629
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/26/2009
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 632,260
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeff Benedict is considered one of America's top investigative journalists. He has published several acclaimed books, including The Mormon Way of Doing Business, Out of Bounds, Pros and Cons and Without Reservation. His articles have been published in Sports Illustrated, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, and he has appeared on ESPN, NBC Nightly News, CBS's 60 Minutes, and ABC News.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 26 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2011

    This story needs to be read by every American

    This story is so unbelievable that if it had been fiction, I would have put it down thinking it implausible. A well written, incredible story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 18, 2011

    A REAL PAGE TURNER!

    Jeff Benedict is truly a gifted writer! He has taken an issue that could have been a very dry read and turned it into an exciting story that, while unfortunately true, reads like a novel! I couldn't put it down! I want to read more by this author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2010

    Should be required reading for all students of government!

    The Little Pink House displays the sad state of greed and power in the United States. It clearly esablishes the lengths that people, cities, and corporations will go to when desiring more money/tax dollars. And to think Pfizer gets involved because of a little pill we all know as Viagra.

    The residents of Fort Trumbell stand strong despite the threats and money waved before them.

    Eminent Domain at its very worst.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    Great Read

    I learned so much about the eminent domain laws fo this country! I can't believe this could happen in America.

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  • Posted February 9, 2011

    crazy

    It's a dumb story about a girl

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2009

    Good read of a Recent Supreme Ct decision

    This was a good read of a very controversial Supreme Court Decision. The Kelo case brought about change in Eminent Domain legislation in over 43 States.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Little Pink House Will Raise Your Blood Pressure

    This is a real story about real people. You get to know them and you care about what happens to them. This is one of those books that makes you aware of the dangers of government without oversight, the power plays that take place in communities when one person gets too much control, and how one person can really, really make a difference by standing up for what they believe in.
    The Little Pink House is well-researched and written in language we can all understand. Susette Kelo and her neighbors fought the good fight, all the way to the Supreme Court. They should have won.
    Our book club read this and had a lively discussion about eminent domain and the rights of every citizen. We learned a lot.

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  • Posted February 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Modern day David and Goliath

    Susette Kelo decides to leave her second marriage - her five sons are grown, she has had to struggle much of her life and she just wants to have a little house overlooking the water that belongs to her. She finds an older home in the working class Fort Trumble neighbourhood of New London, Connecticut. It needs some work, but the view of the water is priceless. She fixes it up slowly while studying for her nursing degree.<BR/><BR/>At the same time pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, just across the river, is looking to expand it's facilities by building a new research and clinical centre. In an effort to woo them, the city of New London, in the form of the New London Development Corporation (NLDC) offers Pfizer, free of charge, a four million dollar piece of property. Pfizer is also interested in having suitable housing, shopping and recreational facilities nearby.<BR/><BR/>And here's where two worlds collide. The NLDC decides that ninety acres, including Susette's neighbourhood, is better suited to Pfizer's needs than that of the people living there. Pfizer will generate jobs and more taxes. The NLDC invokes eminent domain and decides to take the houses.<BR/><BR/>Eminent Domain is defined as the power of the federal or state government to take private property for a public purpose, even if the property owner objects. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows the government to take private property if the taking is for a public use and the owner is "justly compensated" (usually, paid fair market value) for his or her loss. A public use is virtually anything that is sanctioned by a federal or state legislative body, but such uses may include roads, parks, reservoirs, schools, hospitals or other public buildings.<BR/><BR/>Little Pink House is the story of Susette Kelo and her refusal to let her house be taken. In a fight that went to the Supreme Court, the Kelo case is a landmark.<BR/><BR/>Investigative journalist Jeff Benedict has done extensive interviewing, providing coverage of not just Susette's view, but that of the opposing side. <BR/><BR/>The reader, Maggi-Meg Reed, does an excellent job. She captures Susette's defiance, courage and determination perfectly. Her voice also manages to capture the arrogance of the NLDC and those involved with it.<BR/><BR/>I was so captured by this true story. I listened in the car on the way to and from work and had to frequently flip back to the radio as I was so incensed by the arrogance, indifference and downright cruelty shown to the people of the Fort Trumble neighbourhood. Susette, her friends, supporters and their story are such an inspiration, choosing to stand up for their beliefs in a long, protracted ten year battle.

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  • Posted January 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An inspirational story.

    When Susette Kelo's five boys grew up and moved out of the rural house she shared with her husband it became apparent that their marriage was no longer working. Susette made the decision to leave him and move out on her own. Having also made the decision to use no money from their joint account all Susette was able to afford was a small fixer upper on the waterfront in New London, Connecticut. <BR/><BR/>Around the same time Susette purchased her new home and began to fix it up. The New London Development Corporation was formulating a plan to re-develop the waterfront which included the Ft. Trumbull area where Susette's house was located by selling the land to the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. <BR/><BR/>When Susette and more than a few of her neighbors refused to sell, the city and the NLDC tried to take their homes using eminent domain, the law which allows the state to seize a citizen's private property for public use. What resulted was court case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court and a fight that lasted over 9 years. <BR/><BR/>Blurb: "In Little Pink House, award-winning investigative journalist Jeff Benedict takes us behind the scenes of this case -- indeed, Susette Kelo speaks for the first time about all the details of this inspirational true story as one woman led the charge to take on corporate America to save her home." <BR/><BR/>The amazing spirit of Susette Kelo and the other families that refused to leave is so moving. They refused to back down when it seemed impossible that they would ever win. I admire they way Susette showed no sign of weakness in front of the big corporation and the rest of her opposition. <BR/><BR/>The news stories about the case became national news and the Supreme Court ruling became one of the most unpopular rulings of all time. Since this case states either have or are considering amendments to the eminent domain law which prohibit the state turning over land seized under the guise of public use over to private corporations. <BR/><BR/>My review is based on the abridged audio version which was read by Maggi-Meg Reed. I think that listening to this as opposed to reading gave me a better mental picture of Susette as fighter and a strong woman to admire. I highly recommend this book to readers of all genres as it is an inspirational story.

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    Posted April 29, 2011

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