Thursday, October 27, 2011

'Arc of Justice'

The 2004 National Book Award winner is this year's Great Michigan Read, as decided by the Michigan Humanities Council. Well done, guys: this is a good one. In "Arc of Justice," Boyle examines the circumstances, personalities and cultural isms that made Detroit the way it was in the 1920s--reflected through the lens of Dr. Ossian Sweet on trial for murder--and aspires to explain Detroit the way it is today. This book hits the historian's sweet spot: it has both the research to impart fact and the lyricism to emanate truth.

I caught Mr. Boyle at the Flint Public Library last night. He's making the Michigan rounds (though, as an OSU professor, he wisely skipped Ann Arbor), winding up tonight in Detroit. Mr. Boyle is an engaging speaker, conspicuously a frequent lecturer, and, at the author talk, he rehashed in efficient detail the first approximate half of the book, punctuated with playful anecdotes obviously geared toward a Michigan audience. (One must grow weary of trying to teach Ohioans.)

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