NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t


For some, Detroit may be a symbol of urban decay; but to Charlie LeDuff, it’s home. LeDuff, a veteran print and TV journalist who spent 12 years at The New York Times, where he shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2001, returned home to the city after the birth of his daughter left him and his wife — also a Detroit native — wanting to be closer to family. The city he returned to, however, was dramatically different from the one he had left 20 years earlier. “It was empty,” he tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies. “It wasn’t scary. It was sort of like, in many respects, living in Chernobyl in some neighborhoods. … I looked and I thought to myself one day: What happened here? What happened?” He explores that question in his new book, Detroit: An American Autopsy, which, he says, “is dedicated to those of us who live here in the industrial Midwest, specifically Detroit and its inner-ring suburbs. We’re still here trying to reconstruct the great thing we once had.” The book is inspired both by his personal experiences growing up in a blue-collar family in Detroit and having lost a sister to its streets, and from the reporting he has done on the city since returning home. First as a reporter for The Detroit News and more recently as a TV journalist for the local Fox affiliate, LeDuff has become known for colorful stories and investigative pieces on the city’s politicians, cops, firefighters and struggling citizens. MORE