Once in a Great City

  • by David Maraniss
  • Narrated by David Maraniss
  • 13 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

As David Maraniss captures it with power and affection, Detroit summed up America's path to music and prosperity that was already past history.
It's 1963, and Detroit is on top of the world. The city's leaders are among the most visionary in America: Henry Ford II, the grandson of the first Ford; influential labor leader Walter Reuther; Motown's founder, Berry Gordy; the Reverend C.L. Franklin and his daughter, the amazing Aretha; Governor George Romney, Mormon and civil rights advocate; super car salesman Lee Iacocca; Mayor Jerome Cavanagh, a Kennedy acolyte; Police Commissioner George Edwards; Martin Luther King. It was the American auto makers' best year; the revolution in music and politics was underway. Reuther's UAW had helped lift the middle class.
The time was full of promise. The auto industry was selling more cars than ever before and inventing the Mustang. Motown was capturing the world with its amazing artists. The progressive labor movement was rooted in Detroit with the UAW. Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech there two months before he made it famous in the Washington march.
Once in a Great City shows that the shadows of collapse were evident even then. Before the devastating riot, before the decades of civic corruption and neglect and white flight; before people trotted out the grab bag of rust-belt infirmities and competition from abroad to explain Detroit's collapse. From high labor costs to harsh weather, one could see the signs of a city's ruin. Detroit at its peak was threatened by its own design. It was being abandoned by the new world. Yet so much of what Detroit gave America lasts.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Detroit in its Heyday

Would you consider the audio edition of Once in a Great City to be better than the print version?

I consider the print version better because the material is interesting, but the author's narration is boring. He has a bland voice, and he reads in a monotone. It distracts from the content.


How could the performance have been better?

It could have been read by someone else.


If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The Detroit That Was


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- Elaine D. Kirchen

Amazing story and writing, AWFUL voice performance

Would you try another book from David Maraniss and/or David Maraniss?

Yes - this book is a fantastically written, well-detailed, well-researched story describing Detroit on the cusp of its current modern history.


Who would you have cast as narrator instead of David Maraniss?

Anyone but the current narrator. This reader was THE WORST AUDIOBOOK READER I'VE EVER HEARD.

Some congested, monotone, OBNOXIOUS sounding reader ruined the listening experience for me.


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- Eric John "Eric J"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-15-2015
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio