Whose Detroit?: Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City

Whose Detroit?: Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City

by Heather Ann Thompson

Paperback(With a New Prologue)

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Overview

Whose Detroit?: Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City by Heather Ann Thompson

America's urbanites have engaged in many tumultuous struggles for civil and worker rights since the Second World War. In Whose Detroit?, Heather Ann Thompson focuses in detail on the struggles of Motor City residents during the 1960s and early 1970s and finds that conflict continued to plague the inner city and its workplaces even after Great Society liberals committed themselves to improving conditions.

Using the contested urban center of Detroit as a model, Thompson assesses the role of such upheaval in shaping the future of America's cities. She argues that the glaring persistence of injustice and inequality led directly to explosions of unrest in this period. Thompson finds that unrest as dramatic as that witnessed during Detroit's infamous riot of 1967 by no means doomed the inner city, nor in any way sealed its fate. The politics of liberalism continued to serve as a catalyst for both polarization and radical new possibilities and Detroit remained a contested, and thus politically vibrant, urban center.

Thompson's account of the post-World War II fate of Detroit casts new light on contemporary urban issues, including white flight, police brutality, civic and shop floor rebellion, labor decline, and the dramatic reshaping of the American political order. Throughout, the author tells the stories of real events and individuals, including James Johnson, Jr., who, after years of suffering racial discrimination in Detroit's auto industry, went on trial in 1971 for the shooting deaths of two foremen and another worker at a Chrysler plant.

Bringing the labor movement into the context of the literature of Sixties radicalism, Whose Detroit? integrates the history of the 1960s into the broader political history of the postwar period. Urban, labor, political, and African-American history are blended into Thompson's comprehensive portrayal of Detroit's reaction to pressures felt throughout the nation. With deft attention to the historical background and preoccupations of Detroit's residents, Thompson has written a biography of an entire city at a time of crisis.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501709210
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 05/02/2017
Edition description: With a New Prologue
Pages: 322
Sales rank: 621,243
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Heather Ann Thompson is Professor of History at the University of Michigan. She is the Pulitzer- and Bancroft-winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Time, The Atlantic, Salon, Dissent, New Labor Forum, and The Huffington Post.

Table of Contents

Prologue to the 2017 Printing

Introduction: Reassessing the Fate of Postwar Cities, Politics, and Labor

1. Beyond Racial Polarization: Political Complexity in the City and Labor Movement of the 1950s

2. Optimism and Crisis in the New Liberal Metropolis

3. Driving Desperation on the Auto Shop Floor

4. Citizens, Politicians, and the Escalating War for Detroit's Civic Future

5. Workers, Officials, and the Escalating War for Detroit’s Labor Future

6. From Battles on City Streets to Clashes in the Courtroom

7. From Fights for Union Office to Wildcats in the Workplace

8. Urban Realignment and Labor Retrenchment: An End to Detroit’s War at Home

Conclusion: Civic Transformation and Labor Movement Decline in Postwar Urban America

Epilogue

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