Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-Era Detroit

Tom Stanton. Lyons, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4930-1570-2
Glittering triumphs cover up a sordid racist conspiracy in this lively vignette of the Motor City in its heyday. Swerving between hysterical excitement and hysterical fear, the city embodied the roiling socioeconomic and ideological currents of the 1930s. Journalist Stanton (The Final Season) narrates the mid-1930s transformation of the lackluster Detroit Tigers into World Series contenders under charismatic catcher and manager Mickey Cochrane, a story replete with colorful, superstitious players and ninth-inning drama. (Simultaneous championships for the Lions, the Red Wings, and Detroit boxer Joe Louis add to the epic.) Providing counterpoint is the saga of the Black Legion, a Klan-inspired Midwestern secret society that despised African-Americans, Catholics, Jews, immigrants, leftists and union organizers. Despite comic-opera trappings—members pledged to sign their names in blood at nighttime ceremonies—the group, which included politicians, police officers, and prosecutors, was a menace; it plotted to assassinate political opponents, committed several murders, carried out bombings and arson, and conspired to gas synagogues and contaminate ethnic neighborhoods with typhoid germs. The smushed-together halves of Stanton’s book don’t really articulate well, but they combine to form a vivid portrait of Depression-stricken Detroit, a cauldron of racial tensions, police brutality, and strife between management and workers. Photos. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/18/2016
Release date: 06/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4930-1818-5
MP3 CD - 978-1-5159-6545-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-5159-1545-4
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-4930-3058-3
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