Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City

Hardcover | June 28, 2013

byGordon Young

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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.

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From the Publisher

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 ci...

From the Jacket

"One can read Teardown and go 'My, my, my! What a horrid town! Thank God I don't live there!' Oh, but you do. Just as the Roger & Me Flint of the 1980s was the precursor to a wave of downsizing that eventually hit every American community, Gordon Young's Flint of 2013, so profoundly depicted in this book, is your latest warning of what's in store for you—all of you, no matter where you live—in the...

Gordon Young grew up in Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors, where his accomplishments included learning to parallel park the family’s massive Buick Electra 225. After reaching an uneasy truce with the nuns in the local Catholic school system, he went on to study journalism at the University of Missouri and English literature at the University of Nottingham. His work has appeared in the New York Times, ...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:June 28, 2013Publisher:University of California PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0520270525

ISBN - 13:9780520270527

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Prologue: Summer 2009

Part One
1 Pink Houses and Panhandlers
2 Bottom-Feeders
3 Bourgeois Homeowners
4 Virtual Vehicle City
5 Bad Reputation
6 The Road to Prosperity
7 Bar Logic
8 Downward Mobility
9 Black and White
10 The Forest Primeval
11 The Naked Truth
12 The Toughest Job in Politics
13 Urban Homesteaders

Part Two
14 Quitters Never Win
15 Burning Down the House
16 Emotional Rescue
17 Get Real
18 Living Large
19 Fading Murals
20 Gun Club
21 Bargaining with God
22 Psycho Killer

Part Three
23 Winter Wonderland
24 Home on the Range
25 California Dreamin’
26 Thankless Task
27 Joy to the World

Epilogue: Summer 2012

Updates
Acknowledgments
Notes
Sources and Further Reading
Index