Detroit Resurrected

To Bankruptcy and Back

Publisher: WW Norton
At exactly 4:06 p.m. on July 18, 2013, the city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy. It was the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history—the Motor City had finally hit rock bottom. But what led to that fateful day, and how did the city survive the perilous months that followed?

In Detroit Resurrected, Nathan Bomey delivers the inside story of the fight to save Detroit against impossible odds. Bomey, who covered the bankruptcy for the Detroit Free Press, provides a gripping account of the tremendous clash between lawyers, judges, bankers, union leaders, politicians, philanthropists, and the people of Detroit themselves.

The battle to rescue this iconic city pulled together those who believed in its future—despite their differences. Help came in the form of Republican governor Rick Snyder, a technocrat who famously called himself “one tough nerd”; emergency manager Kevyn Orr, a sharp-shooting lawyer and “yellow-dog Democrat”; and judges Steven Rhodes and Gerald Rosen, the key architects of the grand bargain that would give the city a second chance at life.

Detroit had a long way to go. Facing a legacy of broken promises, the city had to seek unprecedented sacrifices from retirees and union leaders, who fought for their pensions and benefits. It had to confront the consequences of years of municipal corruption while warding off Wall Street bond insurers who demanded their money back. And it had to consider liquidating the Detroit Institute of Arts, whose world-class collection became an object of desire for the city’s numerous creditors. In a tight, suspenseful narrative, Detroit Resurrected reveals the tricky path to rescuing the city from $18 billion in debt and giving new hope to its citizens.

Based on hundreds of exclusive interviews, insider sources, and thousands of records, Detroit Resurrected gives a sweeping account of financial ruin, backroom intrigue, and political rebirth in the struggle to reinvent one of America’s iconic cities.

PRAISE FOR

One of our most talented young reporters, Nathan Bomey goes behind the scenes to offer a dramatic account of the debates, deliberation, and deal-making that brought Detroit out of its unprecedented bankruptcy. Bomey brings a human eye to the cold realities of municipal finance and urban politics, through well-drawn portraits of the investors, pensioners, union leaders, politicians, philanthropists, lawyers, and judges at the heart of the case. — Thomas J. Sugrue, author of The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit

No one covered Detroit’s historic municipal bankruptcy more closely than former Detroit Free Press reporter Nathan Bomey. And his unpacking of it here is superlative—not only the sordid history and mechanics of how and why Detroit went broke, but also how it got through court-supervised restructuring and emerged in a position to do better by its residents. With deep reporting and incisive insights, Bomey takes readers inside the process in a way only he could. If you care about cities—past, present, or future—Detroit Resurrected is a must-read. — Stephen Henderson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, Detroit Free Press

Bomey does a superb job of laying out the origins and depths of Detroit’s fiscal and political woes. He has done prodigious research into archives and court documents, interviewed all the players, and woven a tangled mass of facts into a narrative that reads like a thriller. — Bill Morris (The Millions)

As other cities flirt with a similar financial fate, Bomey’s intricate saga of how Detroit walked back from the brink of destruction provides an unrivaled glimpse into what went wrong and an unflinching evaluation of what it takes to overcome detrimental political shenanigans and dubious financial practices. ... Bomey’s insider account ... entertains with its fly-on-the-wall intimacy and keen observations. — Booklist

The Motor City’s recent fiscal implosion sparks an unlikely outbreak of civic-mindedness in this stirring saga. … Bomey deftly elucidates the intricacies of law and finance that shaped the case while painting colorful profiles of the principals and their sharp-tongued, profane wrangling (and occasional fits of conscience). Scrupulously fair to all parties and their grievances, Bomey reveals that behind the crass bean counting stood a fractious community pulling together to value and rescue a long-neglected city. — Publisher's Weekly

Well-paced and highly readable. … It’s an important subject, since the tale of Detroit’s financial woes can serve as a case study on how other cities can deal with economic transition. ... An engaging reconstruction of Detroit’s financial crisis and the broader implications of its comeback for other American cities. — Kirkus Reviews