Books on Detroit

Soulful Detroit Forum: Archives: Books on Detroit
Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat ( - on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 10:18 am:

Can anyone suggest any books that focus on the city's social life. I've heard that there's a book on The Gotham Hotel, and I thought there'd be a couple about Detroits numbers guys etc.
I've already read (social history books) Dancing In The Street - Motown & The Cultural Politics Of Detroit and also, The Origins Of The Urban Crisis.
TIA, Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat ( - on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 10:25 am:

Does "Iceburg..or..Ice Cube Slim" mean anything to anyone? The writter might be called Donald.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Rick B ( - on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 03:46 pm:

If you want to learn more about the musical history of Detroit earlier than Motown, then get "Toast of the Town" by Sunny Wilson, and also "A History of Jazz in Detroit: Before Motown" by Lars Bjorn. Both can be bought from "Toast of the Town" is an autobiography by Sunny Wilson who was a mover and a shaker on Detroits Hastings street in the 1940s and on. It is a kind of slice of life book with lots of keen observations on his past life. Sunny talks about the importance of "numbers" in financing black businesses, at a time when white banks would not lend money to black people.

"Before Motown" spells out the economic and demographic changes that caused the music scene in Detroit to spread like chafe in the wind. The Detroit Medical Center was built on top of a world class jazz center. Cold weather still causes the bricks to poke out of the ground, like the bones of a corpse. I guess that's a little gruesome. Sorry. If you peruse my website you will see a lot of the sort of information you will find in the books --Although my site shows the bleak "now", and the books have pictures of the exiting past. Good luck! I can answer other questions about the books, 'cause I read'em and loved'm

Top of pageBottom of page   By Keith Rylatt ( - on Saturday, March 16, 2002 - 11:06 am:

Rick & Graham. There used to be a really good book store in Fraser MI called The Music Bookshelf, in the 70s/80s I got some nice stuff from there including `Recollections. The Detroit Years` by Jack Ryan. pub by Whitlaker Marketing. There was some run in or other for his alleged unauthorised use of Motown material and the book got held back after a couple of months. The first book I ever saw on Detroit was in the UK, David Morse - Motown (and the arrival of black music)- Studio Vista. 1971.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ritchie ( - on Saturday, March 16, 2002 - 11:20 am:

Hi Keith

I had David Morse's book too... It was OK until the last chapter, which seemed to get bogged down in some heavy moralising about corporate politics, and heavy thrashing of CBS - for some reason!

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat ( - on Monday, March 18, 2002 - 04:40 am:

Thanks to Rick B and Keith.
Since my initial post I've read both the Sunny Wilson and the Before Motown books and enjoyed them both.
The David Morse one I've had for many years - although it reads like a dissertation, it was one of the first published on Motown (love the photo of Edwin Starr on stage, dressed as 0-0-Soul).
I'd want to get hold of a copy of Jack Ryan's book so will do a web-search.
Thanks again, Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat ( - on Monday, March 18, 2002 - 04:55 am:

I've searched for jack Ryan's book but can't find any leads. Is it any good?
Cheers, Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By Keith Rylatt ( - on Monday, March 18, 2002 - 02:44 pm:

Graham Re Jack Ryan's book, it was good at the time but the whole book is in fake sepia effect and the photos are spoilt as a result. The written content is pretty average, the only memorable thing is a few shots of artists I've never seen before and the very odd fact here and there - so in a nutshell, don't bust a gut. You may be able to get hold of Jack Ryan, he's a free lance journalist around Detroit, Free Press etc.

Top of pageBottom of page   By ErikT.O. ( - on Wednesday, March 20, 2002 - 07:13 pm:

Well, it's not a book, but for an entertaining look at Detroit social life, might I recommend finding a copy of the video 'Detroit 9000'? Great soundtrack ('73?), decently written & acted, someone recommended it on the discussdetroit forum & I was glad to have seen it (it is available on vhs)... Erik

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