After living in San Francisco for 15 years, journalist Gordon Young found himself yearning for his Rust Belt hometown: Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors and "star" of the Michael Moore documentary Roger & Me. Hoping to rediscover and help a place that once boasted one of the world's highest per capita income levels, but is now one of the country's most impoverished and dangerous cities, he returned to Flint with the intention of buying a house. What he found was a place of stark contrasts and dramatic stories, where an exotic dancer can afford a lavish mansion, speculators scoop up cheap houses by the dozen on eBay, and arson is often the quickest route to neighborhood beautification. Skillfully blending personal memoir, historical inquiry, and interviews with Flint residents, Young constructs a vibrant tale of a once-thriving city still fighting - despite overwhelming odds - to rise from the ashes. He befriends a rag-tag collection of urban homesteaders and die-hard locals who refuse to give up as they try to transform Flint into a smaller, greener town that offers lessons for cities all over the world.
Hard-hitting, insightful, and often painfully funny, "Teardown" reminds us that cities are ultimately defined by people, not politics or economics.
Publisher: University of California Press
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 544 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 25 mm
"A journalist living in San Francisco decides to move back to decrepit Flint, Mich., where he was born and raised... It matters because: As cities like Flint go, so goes much of the nation. Perfect for: The amateur urbanist who wants to go to Flint without actually having to leave the backyard." -- Alexander Nazaryan Atlantic Wire "A poignant, often funny look at an iconic Rust Belt city struggling to recover." -- Vanessa Bush Booklist "Teardown is a story, readable and affecting, sad and funny, animated by human impulse and the American preoccupation with real estate values ... it is a remarkably intereting read that is likely to resonate with anyone who has ever left home." -- Philip Martin Arkansas Democrat Gazette "Young has written this love poem to his arson-prone, deindustrialized hometown and its impoverished and traumatized citizenry using a snappy yet journalistically skeptical style... Even casual readers who have no experience with Rust Belt cities or real estate investment will find Teardown compelling and worth their attention." -- Jim Schulman Washington Independent Review of Books "Young shines a spotlight on a broken city and the efforts of those desperate to save it, but this is also the story of a man confronting a crisis of identity and finding hope where there seemed to be none." Publishers Weekly "The style of Teardown is Rolling-Stone-style journalism, relatively informal, strongly first person, loosely organized. But there is modern history, too, and wide-ranging inquiry into economics and (especially) politics. The strongest narrative interest, though, springs from Gordon's contacts with Flintites old and new, people doing what he is contemplating." -- Randall Mawer Lost Coast Review "While scholars and urban planners throughout the US and Europe debate strategies for revitalising former industrial cities that are "shrinking", "forgotten" or "failing", Young reminds us that storytelling, including the kind of inconclusive ending we might find in a contemporary novel, sometimes reveals more than the most careful study can. Better yet, a good story shows us why we should care, even if it doesn't provide any solutions." -- Sherry Lee Linkon Times Higher Education "One does not have to be from Flint to appreciate this book." -- Stephen High Middle West Review