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Getting Ghost: Two Young Lives and the Struggle for the Soul of an American City based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
This book is well written both as a scholarly anthropological-sociological study of the street drug culture in Detroit and a compassionate story about the young men involved in it, particularly two who befrinded the author. This book provides an unsentimental and unpatronizing glimpse into not just what's happening in Detroit, but also into the alternative universe that's expanding throughout the U.S.
This is a tough read because it's all too real, but it's a must read for anyone interested in the challenges and opportunities in contemporary urban America. Luke Bergmann's first-person account of the lives of African-American youth in inner-city Detroit is as illuminating as it is troubling. These young people, and especially the young men, lead lives so far out of the American mainstream as to be virtually unrecognizable to most, yet they have effectively created their own urban culture. It is a depressing place, constrained by poverty, lack of education and participation in the illegal drug trade, to name a few. But the two protagonists do share the American Dream in a way - they want a better life, but their means of achieving it differ greatly from what most of us consider "normal." In fairness, most of the book isn't particularly compelling, largely because the lives of its subjects aren't. Frankly, it's depressing and dreary being caught in the urban drug culture most of the time. The "thug life" just isn't that interesting because there's just not that much to it. And the choices that are made have a way of boomeranging back in ways that compound rather than alleviate problems. Also, Bergmann can get a little too esoteric at times with the sociological techno-jargon. But after you get through it, you will be haunted by its truth. It is an unspairing, unflinching look at an urban subculture that is all too prevalent in the major cities of our country (and, perhaps, being "perfected" in the most post-industrially apocalyptic city, Detroit). It leaves one wondering exactly what holistic set of policy prescriptions could address this situation (a subject that Bergmann only alludes to occasionally but does not address). One thing is clear - this has to be addressed, because failure to do so will only encourage its spread. It is like a societal ebola virus eating away at our country's future from the inside, specifically from inside its major cities. Bergmann's portrait is superb if troubling, rich in insight if occasionally boring due to the banality of its subjects' existence and fascinating and horrifying. It is like watching human train wrecks, and yet it is hard to turn away because you know that seeing the whole picture matters. What remains is for us to use Bergmann's insights to address the situation effectively, though this may be the even tougher task....