The Craig Fahle Show

'Detroit through the Decades': Help Us Pick a Book for WDET's First Book Club

by: WDET Staff

Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014

Here we go folks. We're starting a book club. And our first go is themed "Detroit through the Decades".

Here's how it works:

• We've picked five books around the theme of "Detroit through the Decades".

• Vote now for the book you'd like to read via the quick survey below, which will run for the next two weeks. Scroll down to read a description of each book and why we picked it. You'll also find links to reviews and excerpts from the book

• Voting will close on Feb. 4 and we will announce the chosen book on Feb. 5.

• We'll then spend the next four weeks reading and discussing it on The Craig Fahle Show, online and on Facebook.

Interviewing the authors:
Monday, Jan. 27: Author Mark Binelli and "Detroit City Is The Place To Be"
Tuesday, Jan. 28: Author Jean Alicia Elster and "The Colored Car"
Wednesday, Jan. 29: Author Peter Hammer and his Judge Damon Keith biography "Crusader for Justice"
Thursday, Jan. 29: Author D.E. Johnson and "Detroit Shuffle"
Friday, Jan. 30: Peter Leonard, Elmore Leonard's son, and "Freaky Deaky"

This is our first round of The WDET Book Club and with your help there will be many more. And don’t forget to share the survey on Facebook and Twitter to let your friends join the fun.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Click on a title below for details about the book, why we choose it and our book club interviews on The Craig Fahle Show.
Crusader for Justice | Detroit City Is the Place To Be | Freaky Deaky | Detroit Shuffle | The Colored Car

Crusader for Justice

Author: Compiled, written, and edited by Peter J. Hammer and Trevor W. Coleman. Foreword by Mitch Albom Category: Non-fiction/Biography
Length: 368 pages
Available: Wayne State University Press, Amazon
November 2013

What the book is about: The Honorable Damon J. Keith was appointed to the federal bench in 1967 and has served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit since 1977, where he has been an eloquent defender of civil and constitutional rights and a vigorous enforcer of civil rights law. In Crusader for Justice: Federal Judge Damon J. Keith, authors Peter J. Hammer and Trevor W. Coleman presents the first ever biography of Detroiter Keith, surveying his education, important influences, major cases, and professional and personal commitments. Along the way, the authors consult a host of Keith's notable friends and colleagues, including former White House deputy counsel John Dean, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and industrialist Edsel Ford II for this candid and comprehensive volume.

Why we choose it: Judge Damon Keith is an icon, not only in metro Detroit but also throughout the world. The man’s heart is always in the right place, and his mind is as sharp as a tack as he enters his ninth decade on this earth. He has not only seen an immense amount of history, he’s been smack in the middle of the action. He scrambled over obstacles in his life on his way to sitting as a judge in Federal Court and has had an indelible impact on civil rights. When he visited WDET in the fall, he told us he really wanted to reach the children of our region, and help teach them about the importance of equality in our world.


Detroit City Is the Place to Be

On-air interview with Craig Fahle:
Author: Mark Binelli
Category: Non-fiction
Length: 318 pages (illustrated).
Available: Macmillan, Amazon

What the book is about: With an eye for both the darkly absurd and the radically new, Detroit-area native Mark Binelli has chronicled this convergence. Sharp and impassioned, Detroit City Is the Place to Be is alive with the sense of possibility that comes when a city hits rock bottom. Binelli does not shy away from exploring the violence, economic devastation, political corruption and physical ruin that have ravaged his hometown, but he also offers a glimpse of a long-shot future Detroit that is smaller, less segregated, greener, economically diverse, and better functioning (which could be the boldest reimagining of a post-industrial city in our new century).

Why we choose it: First of all, Binelli is a great writer. He makes Detroit’s story compelling and often uplifting but he isn’t a cheerleader. In a New York Times article he was quoted explaining what he wanted to find out about Detroit when he wrote the book. He said: “Who sticks around and tries to make things work again? And what sorts of newcomers are drawn to the place for similar reasons?” This book got national attention and we thought maybe we should read it and discuss it among ourselves. Also, Detroit City Is the Place to Be is one of Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Best Books of 2012.

New York Times

Freaky Deaky

Author: Elmore Leonard
Category: Fiction
Length: 448 page
Available: Amazon

What the book is about: He used to be on the bomb squad but it's not until he transfers out that Chris Mankowski really begins juggling with dynamite. Rape and revenge are just the tip of the iceberg in a twisty tale that brings Detroit's denizens to life -- and occasional death -- in all their seedy glory. Electrifying, explosive and unexpected -- this is Elmore Leonard at his suspenseful best.

Why we choose it: When we lost Leonard last year, we lost one of Metro-Detroit’s greatest legends; one of our finest and most prolific authors and an incredibly sincere, generous and fascinating man. Leonard wrote 45 novels and nearly as many western and crime short stories during his six decades of writing. We choose this particular book because it is set in Detroit and explores a different era than the others on our list. It was hard to pick just one Leonard novel but the owner of Book Beat in Oak Park said Leonard told him this may have been his personal favorite.

Book Beat remembers Elmore Leonard
More about the book from the Elmore Leonard website

Detroit Shuffle

Author: D.E. Johnson
Category: Fiction (mystery)
Length: 336 pages
Available: Amazon

What the book is about: Will Anderson and Elizabeth Hume get caught up in the political turmoil over women’s suffrage in Detroit Shuffle, the fourth book in D. E. Johnson’s critically acclaimed 1910s Detroit series. In this book, Will has to unravel a complicated tapestry of blackmail, double-dealing, conspiracy and murder. Johnson’s immaculate plotting and high-tension writing make for a spellbinding read set in early 20th Century Detroit.

Why we choose it: One of our staffers saw D.E. Johnson speak and thought he was exceptionally knowledgeable about the history of Detroit. Johnson is devoted to Detroit in his writing. This is his fourth novel about Detroit in the early 20th Century and the scenery is vivid and thought provoking. All four of books have received great reviews and his stories are fun and keep you on the edge of your seat.

More about the book from D.E. Johnson's website

The Colored Car

Author: Jean Alicia Elster
Category: Fiction
Length: 224 pages
Available: Wayne State University Press, Amazon

What the book is about: From the back cover: In the hot summer of 1937, 12-year-old Patsy Ford takes care of her three younger sisters and helps her mother put up fresh fruits and vegetables in the family's summer kitchen, adjacent to the wood yard that her father, Douglas Ford, owns. Times are tough and Patsy's mother, May Ford, helps neighborhood families by sharing the food that she preserves. But May's decision to take a break from canning to take her daughters for a visit to their grandmother's home in Clarksville, Tennessee, sets in motion a series of events that prove to be life-changing for Patsy.

Why we choose it: This is a book the whole family can read, yet it’s not too juvenile for adults. Author, and former attorney, Jean Elster lives in the Metro-Detroit area and The Colored Car refers to a train car in Depression-era Detroit. This book shows there is much to learn and discuss about race in the pre-Civil Rights era and the story touches on many themes relevant to metro-Detroiters today. The Library of Michigan selected the The Colored Car as a 2014 Michigan Notable Book.