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The Reckoning by David Halberstam

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3. DETROIT’S BLEAK WINTER OF 1982

IT WAS THE THIRD bleak winter in a row. For many years prosperity had been viewed as a kind of birthright by most Americans, particularly those who were the beneficiaries of the auto industry. But now, in the cold early months of 1982, prosperity seemed a distant memory in Detroit and the state of Michigan, something come and then gone, perhaps irretrievably. It was now nearly three years since the day when, in the words of Lee Iacocca, Detroit’s principal phrasemaker, the Shah left town.

The rest of the country was suffering from what was usually called a recession, but Detroit and most of the old industrial heartland of the Midwest were caught in an all-out depression. More than a quarter of a million autoworkers ...

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