Book Signing with Scott Martelle at The Book Beat

Author Scott Martelle will be giving a presentation at The Book Beat (26010 Greenfield Rd. Oak Park MI 48237) on Thursday April 5th from 7pm-8pm for his new title Detroit: A Biography.  Joining him in conversation about the book will be M.L. Liebler.

Craig Fahle’s WDET interview with Scott Martelle on his new book.

Detroit: A Biography takes a long, unflinching look at the evolution of one of America’s great cities, and one of the nation’s greatest urban failures. It tells how the city grew to become the heart of American industry and how its utter collapse—from 1.8 million residents in 1950 to 714,000 only six decades later—resulted from a confluence of public policies, private industry decisions, and deep, thick seams of racism. And it raises the question: when we look at modern-day Detroit, are we looking at the ghost of America’s industrial past or its future?

“A valuable biography sure to appeal to readers seeking to come to grips with important problems facing not just a city, but a country.” – Kirkus

“Detroit has played a crucial role in American urban, industrial, and ethnic history, today it is central to any discussion of the future of the nation’s cities.  Scott Martelle has done a wonderful job of capturing the essence of Detroit from its early history on the Western Frontier to “Motor City” to today’s urban crisis.” – Dominic A. Pacyga, author of Chicago: A Biography

“[Detroit] offers an informative albeit depressing glimpse of the workings of a once-great city that is now a shell of its former self.” – Publishers Weekly

“This unsentimental assessment is rich with cold, hard facts about those responsible for what Detroit became and what it is today”  – Booklist

Scott Martelle, a third-generation journalist, was born in Scarborough, Maine, and grew up there and in Wellsville, New York, about two hours south of Buffalo. His first newspaper job came at age 16, writing a high school sports column for the Wellsville Patriot, a weekly (defunct), then covering local news part-time for the Wellsville Daily Reporter. After attending Fredonia State, where he was editor of The Leader newspaper and news director for WCVF campus radio, he worked in succession for the Jamestown Post-Journal, Rochester Times-Union (defunct), The Detroit News and the Los Angeles Times, where he has covered presidential campaigns, books, local news and features, including several Sunday magazine pieces. Freelance work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review (books in brief), Buffalo News, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Teaching Tolerance (Southern Poverty Law Center), Solidarity (United Auto Workers) and elsewhere. He also speaks occasionally at school and college classes about journalism, politics and writing.

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3 comments on “Book Signing with Scott Martelle at The Book Beat
  1. Dear Book Beat management:

    We are a husband-and-wife writing team based in the Swiss Alps and coauthors of two nonfiction books now “in press” in New York. We’re planning a signing tour of our own later this year, and it may include metro Detroit (one of us grew up in Michgan). So your signing event for Scott Martelle attracted our attention (noted on MWN Blog Archive today).

    We have one question about Martelle’s book (or at least his title): “Detroit: A Biography” baffles us. Our Concise Oxford Dictionary defines “biography” as “a written life of a person; branch of literature dealing with persons’ lives; life course of a human being.” Maybe you can ask Martelle in our absence why he chose the word “biography” in describing a a metropolis like Detroit (even if it deals with the rise and fall of a city that once housed 1.8 million people in 1950). We’d be grateful if you could relay his answer.

    With best regards,

    Lyn + Hanni Shepard
    Filisur, Switzerland

    • Dear Lynn and Hanni,
      Please keep us in mind as a stop on your upcoming promotional tour. I will pass along your question to the author this Thursday and report back with his answer.
      Thank you for your note and comments.

      Best regards,

      Cary Loren c/o Book Beat

  2. Hi, Lyn & Hanni:

    I’m happy to answer that one. 🙂 It’s not meant to be taken literally. To write a detailed history of Detroit would take volumes, not one book, so I built it around the theme of how one would approach a biography. That is, focusing on the critical junctures of a life. In this case, I focus on the critical junctures (as I see them; it’s very subjective) in Detroit’s evolution. Mixed in, of course, with some very compelling smaller moments. My intent is that by the end of the book, a reader with limited knowledge of Detroit’s history will have a grounding in how it came to be what it is today.

    Good luck with your project. 🙂


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