Read Motor City Burning: A Novel by Bill Morris Online


Willie Bledsoe, once an idealistic young black activist, is now a burnt-out case. After leaving a snug berth at Tuskegee Institute to join the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he has become bitterly disillusioned with the civil rights movement and its leaders. He returns home to Alabama to try to write a memoir about his time in the cultural whirlwind, but the woWillie Bledsoe, once an idealistic young black activist, is now a burnt-out case. After leaving a snug berth at Tuskegee Institute to join the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he has become bitterly disillusioned with the civil rights movement and its leaders. He returns home to Alabama to try to write a memoir about his time in the cultural whirlwind, but the words fail to come.The surprise return of his Vietnam veteran brother in the spring of 1967 gives Willie a chance to drive a load of smuggled guns to the Motor City – and make enough money to jump-start his stalled dream of writing his movement memoir. There, at Tiger Stadium on Opening Day of the 1968 baseball season – postponed two days in deference to the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr. – Willie learns some terrifying news: the Detroit police are still investigating the last unsolved murder from the bloody, apocalyptic riot of the previous summer, and a white cop named Frank Doyle will not rest until the case is solved. And Willie is his prime suspect.Bill Morris's rich and thrilling new novel sets Doyle's hunt amid the history of one of America's most tortured and fascinating cities, as Doyle and Willie struggle with Detroit's deep racial divide, with revenge and forgiveness – and with the realization that justice is rarely attainable, and rarely just....

Title : Motor City Burning: A Novel
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781605985732
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Motor City Burning: A Novel Reviews

  • Barbara Gregorich
    2019-05-09 05:04

    I enjoyed reading this story for many reasons. First, I liked the characters of both Willie Bledsoe and Frank Doyle, the former a young African-American recently arrived in Detroit of 1968, the latter a young cop with the Detroit Police. Second, I loved the setting: Detroit during 1968, almost a year after the ghetto rebellions (called riots by media and police), and during the baseball season which would result in the Tigers winning the American League pennant and playing the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Third, I found the character of Willie refreshingly honest. And fourth, I found the other characters in the book interesting — though I did think the male characters were much better developed than the female characters, and I wish the female characters had been less two dimensional.I was dissatisfied with the lack of tension as the story progressed. From the start Willie is afraid that he might be in trouble with the police. From the start Frank is looking for a murderer who he slowly narrows down to . . . probably Willie Bledsoe. Even though everything that happens brings Frank closer to arresting Willie, I felt no tension over this. And I wanted to feel tension as events escalated.

  • Jeremy Kitchen
    2019-05-19 05:05

    I finished this although it was so corny and minstrel-y I laughed out loud several times. Does Morris really think a secretary at Motown Records would speak like this "the Tigers done won the World Series?"Or that every black person in Detroit says "D-Troit" or lacks education in grammar? I understand that it is difficult to write colloquial dialogue, but Morris really screws the pooch. I kept reading just to see how bad it would get.

  • Sara
    2019-05-17 03:23

    I have a LOT of problems with this book, most of them based on a middle aged white guy writing first person as a young black activist.

  • Earnest Thompson
    2019-05-09 05:57

    This is a quick read and just downright fun! Oh, it's about a city I've known for most of my life (Detroit) and a baseball team (the Tigers) that won the World Series when I was a teen. So the subject matter had me in any case. But the heart of the story is a tightly told mystery tale of the 1967 racial riots that devastated the Motor City, accelerating an exodus from the urban center that still hasn't stopped. The protagonists are broadly drawn and tangled in the mystery of the only unsolved murder victim of the riots. The fast moving, highly readable story pits a cynical African American veteran of the SNCC campaigns of the South against an equally jaded Irish homicide detective whose officer brother already has moved to the far away 'burbs. (And they are both really sensitive males, in an instance of rushing the times a bit). Along the way we meet Detroit area denizens that may be composites but all are recognizable: from the country club lush who owns the biggest car dealer around to the inner city fast talking lawyer w/ mojo and connections; from the buzzed hippie chick on Plum Street to the elegant receptionist at Motown on Grand Blvd. In fact, the streets are still filled w/ people you probably knew from decades ago. The action moves back & forth between the Tigers march toward the '68 pennant to the smoky street looting & rooftop snipers of both residents and occupying National Guard troops. The angry, misunderstood Vietnam vet gets a cameo as do social misfits, black & white and both genders. What brings them all together are the bleachers of old Tiger Stadium and the constant radio calls of the venerable Detroit broadcaster, Ernie Harwell. It's clear the author has done his homework and captured the tones (and tunes) of the times. As auto guys often say about their business, this Motor City smells like gasoline.

  • Lisa R.
    2019-05-02 05:15

    This is really a 3.5. At first, I was unimpressed with the writing, but Morris's straightforward style grew on me over time, especially as I began to care about the characters more (and by the end, I cared quite a bit). Plus, it was hard to resist a book set in the same locations I walk and drive through on a daily basis. If you're looking for a quick, engaging read and you're a fan of baseball and/or Detroit, I'd recommend this.

  • Margaret1358 Joyce
    2019-05-09 23:57

    Just as this novel's protagonist, Willie Bledsoe, an idealistic black activist from Alabama, had to write the story of his dedication, body and soul, to the 1960's civil rights movement, so too, it feels like Bill Morris absolutely had to get this story down. And for that fictionalized 'rendering of accounts', I am deeply appreciative. This is the gargantuan story of the racial divide in the U.S., in crystallized form: Detroit, during the 1967 racial riot which tore that city apart, and 1968 , the aftermath with its stunningly cathartic experience of the Detroit Tigers' win of the World Series in baseball, an event in which the whole gasoline-fueled city lifted off--as Morris is fond of saying--in ecstatic self-celebration. This is an important read.

  • Thaddeus
    2019-04-28 05:14

    Blended my love of the city of Detroit with a fictional story of the 67 riots and the 68 Tiger World Championship.

  • Elizabeth Moeller
    2019-04-29 08:23

    I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. This book is about race relations in Detroit in the year following the race riots that occurred after Martin Luther King was killed, but is wrapped up in a murder mystery. The two main characters are Willie, a black man from Alabama who originally arrived in Detroit with his brother Wes to sell some guns, and Doyle, a homicide detective who is looking to solve one of the last outstanding murders from the riot. I really enjoyed the details about each man's experience in Detroit. The author did an excellent job of conveying how the city presents itself to each of them and how the various social layers are formed. I also was interested in the internal struggle Willie was having coming to terms with his place as a black man in America. He saw around him black people that were trying to conform to the rules to be a good person and black people who were bucking those rules and ultimately found that there was no real difference in the treatment received by each of those groups. He ultimately resolves that this is an unfair country and, therefore, he does not necessarily have to work within the rules set forth by the country.One of my favorite parts of this book is that the baseball season of the Detroit Tigers is a constant presence in the book. The baseball park is a place where everyone in the city can come together to try to piece back together the civic thread of the city.

  • Nancy
    2019-05-03 02:06

    Since I was a high school graduate and freshman at U-M during the year this novel occurs - 1968, and I well remember the riots from July 1967 being a Detroiter, I brought a lot of hometown cred and memories to this (audio) book. It's a tale of Detroit in the very beginning of its decline from racial tensions that have not been fully resolved even today, but with the glow of prosperity and a great, memorable Tigers season that ended in a glorious Game 7 of the Series. The story's perspectives come from a transplanted black Alabamian, Willie Bledsoe, former SNCC member trying to make a life for himself in Detroit. and Frank Doyle, a white homicide cop in the very flawed Detroit Police Department.I enjoyed the story lines and the many references to places and things specific to Detroit. And I loved the unspooling of the the Tigers' '68 season as a thread throughout. This pleasure, though, was marred by repeated annoyance at the narrator's pronunciation clinkers, especially Lolich (Mickey Lolich, which was pronounced "La-lick" by the narrator!) and Dave DeBusschere (pronounced Daybooshay by the narrator), though he did get Livernois right.I will be looking for more Bill Morris for murder/crime entertainment.

  • Joan
    2019-05-17 01:11

    I enjoyed the book, but it did not ring true to me. I thought the writer had empathy for the characters. The characters are extremes: the cooking, kind, thoughtful cop, Doyle and the former Freedom Rider, writer, truth teller, Willie Bledsoe with the Uncle telling him he can succeed. The character felt more like caricatures or types than real people. Doyle is trying to find the killer of Helen Hull, a woman from his neighborhood, who was killed in the Detroit riots. Willie has just returned to Detroit after giving up on the Freedom Rides when he sees that the leaders, including Martin Luther King, don't ever ride the buses or take the abuse. Doyle finally gets a tip on who could have shot Helen. It leads him to Willie. Writer's block has stopped Bledsoe from writing a book of his memoirs. He finally starts writing again after meeting a beautiful woman, the Tigers games and realizing that he didn't kill Helen. Books leaves me questioning why would Bledsoe come back to Detroit. The book kept me reading, but does not ring true to me.

  • Aaron Robertson
    2019-05-05 07:16

    A well-researched, plainly written novel about an unsolved murder that occurred during the 1967 Detroit riots, disillusionment with certain figureheads and activist groups of the civil rights movement, and the joys and frustration of watching the Detroit Tigers. At times this felt like a Detroit promotional ad; the extensive use of place names, Michigan brands, and references to Detroit history ostensibly deepens one connection to the setting. This is usually true, but Morris can hardly hide the fact that this is, in some ways, an encomium of the city that happens to have a plot. Still, Morris is an adept writer. The writing rings of Elmore Leonard: cool, snappy, occasional flair tempered with great control. Willie Bledsoe, the protagonist who is on the run from a determined detective, is a compelling character whose transformation over the course of the book is rather directly stated, albeit still interesting. I had fun reading it.

  • Argum
    2019-05-22 02:26

    I bought this book because of its connection to the Detroit riots thinking it took place in the riot. It is really a story of the aftermath and the social atmosphere that lead to the blow up in 67. Being a Detroiter, I enjoyed the description of the places in the novel. I enjoyed the role of the Tigers as it both lent levity to the story and has the benefit of being a true source of healing after the riots. The cop and the black man the story focuses on were well created real feeling characters not cardboard cutouts of what they should be like and think like. I am not sure I loved the ending though. Have already passed this book along to someone who worked for the State Police during the riots and am excited to see her thoughts on the truth presented here

  • Stella
    2019-05-20 02:22

    A well written book peopled with believable characters and details about Detroit that resonated with me -- Vernor's ginger ale, Stroh's beer, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and best of all, the '68 Tigers who were my heroes the summer I became a teenager. They brought hope to a city devastated by the riots of the previous summer. In this novel, the Tiger's winning season seems to follow the trajectory of Willie Bledloe's life, a young black man and disillusioned Civil Rights activist from Alabama searching for a purpose and his way in life. Not as lyrical as I like a book to be, but good all the same.

  • Don Gorman
    2019-05-01 03:16

    What an interesting little book. The first half or so seemed to drag a little but the rest of it was smooth as silk. We have fascinating twin protagonists in this story, each one wildly engaging. A cop with roots in Detroit and a very wise, young black man from the South who was part of the civil rights movement. Detroit is a wonderful background for all the action and a fun baseball theme is here as well. Great side characters abound too. The further on you get, the better this book is. Really interesting and fun stuff.

  • Debbie
    2019-05-19 02:21

    This was a book recommended by the booksellers at McLean and Eakin bookstore in Petoskey, Michigan at Booktopia 2015. A good read set in the Detroit of the late 1960's--not a setting very familiar to me. But having just visited Michigan for the first time, I did have a frame of reference for the story, which think I enhanced the read for me. Thought provoking reading about a difficult time in history where everything is not cut and dried simple..

  • Alice
    2019-05-04 00:09

    I was living in the inner city of Detroit in the 60's and remember the '67 riots and the '68 World Series, so I can relate to this story. I enjoyed reading most of the book except for the ending. I was waiting for some dramatic incident and disappointed. The characters weren't strong enough for the dialog. It did show what a huge part the Tiger's team had to bring up the moral of the people of the city after the riots.

  • Laura
    2019-04-26 05:16

    This is a story with two protagonists; Doyle, a white cop investigated the murder of a woman during the '67 riots and Willie, a black former Freedom Rider who has something to hide. Detroit is an interesting city to me and I liked this book. The subject matter was very dark, but the characters were interesting and it also took place during the Tigers World Series season.

  • Don Healy
    2019-05-08 03:21

    A sweet and sour nostalgic ride through post riot Detroit and the redemptive 1968 tigers. Morris is empathic enough in telling the story of a black disillusioned freedom rider that I needed to check his own racial background. Some of the other characters are also sympathetic, particularly the lead detective. Overall, an enjoyable read, especially for Detroiters.

  • Jane
    2019-05-18 04:05

    Having recently moved to southeastern MI, to an outer suburb of Detroit, I found this book interesting for the history and geography of the city. I grew up in the sixties and the early seventies, so lots of the book brought back memories. The story itself was good too, and I had no trouble reading it quickly to find out how it all resolved. An interesting and worthwhile read.

  • Marianne
    2019-05-22 00:59

    The best thing about this book is the incredible empathy for its characters, especially Willie, the black ex-Freedom Rider.

  • KimGraham
    2019-05-22 06:26

    loved the plot, the Detroit setting, and historical touches!!

  • Chris
    2019-05-01 07:04

    A very clever love letter to Detroit dressed up as meditation on race relations in the United States dressed up as a police procedural. Written with warmth and empathy for the characters.

  • Larry Kirby Sullivan
    2019-04-28 05:01

    Good book, not great, but fun to read.

  • Amyem
    2019-05-08 08:23

    I registered a book at!

  • Patricia Gussin
    2019-05-04 07:14

    Authentic Detroit. circa 1967.A topic of great familiarity to me as author of Shadow of Death which deals with that era.

  • Jeanette Rivard
    2019-05-23 08:17

    I was living in a Detroit suburb during the time period in which this book is set so it really resonated with me. It was hard to put down.

  • Edan
    2019-05-14 08:06

    Elegant, compelling, beautiful.

  • Yvonne
    2019-05-05 01:21

    I enjoyed this book very much, it told a different side.