The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits


Product Details

$18.99  $17.66
New Press
Publish Date
5.9 X 9.0 X 1.0 inches | 1.05 pounds

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About the Author

Tiya Miles is the recipient of a 2011 MacArthur Foundation genius grant, and is an award-winning historian and former chair of the Department of Afroamerican and African studies at the University of Michigan. She lives in Ann Arbor.


Praise for Dawn of Detroit
2018 Frederick Douglass Book Prize Co-Winner

2018 John Hope Franklin Prize Finalist

2018 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award (Nonfiction) Winner

2018 American Book Award Winner

2018 Harriet Tubman Prize Finalist

Longlisted for the 2018 Cundill History Prize

2018 Merle Curti Social History Award Winner

2018 James A. Rawley Prize Co-Winner

A New York Times Editor's Choice selection

A Michigan Notable Book of 2018

A Booklist Editors' Choice Title for 2017

"Beautifully written and rigorously researched. . . . Throughout this riveting text, personal and family stories illustrate and advance a narrative that rewrites our understanding of slavery in the making of the United States."
--2018 Frederick Douglass Book Prize Jury

"If many Americans imagine slavery essentially as a system in which black men toiled on cotton plantations, Miles upends that stereotype several times over."
--New York Times Book Review

"In her new, groundbreaking history. . . [Miles] has compiled documentation that does for Detroit what the Works Progress Administration and the Federal Writers' Project slave narratives did for other regions, primarily the South."
--The Washington Post

"[Tiya Miles] is among the best when it comes to blending artful storytelling with an unwavering sense of social justice."
--Martha S. Jones in The Chronicle of Higher Education

"Miles' account of the founding and rise of Detroit is an outstanding contribution that seeks to integrate the entirety of U.S. history, admirable and ugly, to offer a more holistic understanding of the country."
--Booklist (starred)

"Historian Miles (Tales from the Haunted South) has written a book that will reorient the focus of early slavery in North America Westward to include Detroit as central to any understanding of the tangled relations of French, English, Euro-Americans, Indians, and Africans on the frontier from the 18th to early 19th century. A necessary work of powerful, probing scholarship."
--Publisher Weekly (starred)

"A book likely to stand at the head of further research into the problem of Native and African-American slavery in the north country."
--Kirkus Reviews

"In this exemplary history that shows how slavery made early Detroit, Professor Tiya Miles demonstrates that Malcolm X (whose activist father was lynched in Michigan) was right when he insisted that all of the United States is south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Out of careful research, supple prose, deeply humane generosity to her historical subjects, and a knack for uncovering gripping family narratives, Miles has crafted a work from which any reader can learn new things. There is no finer writer among historians than Tiya Miles."
--Edward Baptist, professor, department of history, Cornell University, and author of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

"'There is currently no historical marker acknowledging slavery in Detroit-- revealing that people were bought, sold, and held as property . . .' Tiya Miles tell us in her rich account, detailing Native American and African American slavery in that city and the surrounding countryside. The Dawn of Detroit is a brilliant telling of chattel bondage's long and twisted history and the evolution of race relations in the . . . City on the Straits."
--Ira Berlin, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland, and author of Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America

"Extracting seemingly lost lives from sparse records to recover the humanity of people regarded as property, Tiya Miles exposes the tenacity of slavery and forced labor, both black and Indian, in multiethnic and multicultural Detroit during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It is an often ugly--but also a revealing and surprising--story. She creates a pointillist account of a complicated borderland."
--Richard White, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History, Stanford University, and author of The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815

"The Dawn of Detroit once again demonstrates that Tiya Miles is the rarest sort of historian: a brilliant and humane observer who can build an account of the terrifying difference of the past out of a series of observations that have the plain familiarity of family history."
--Walter Johnson, Winthrop Professor of History, Harvard University, and author of Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market

Praise for Tiya Miles:
"[Tiya Miles] has reframed and reinterpreted the history of our diverse nation."
--The MacArthur Foundation

Praise for Tiya Miles's previous work:
"A meticulously researched and elegantly written book that is accessible to nonacademic readers as well as scholars."
--Public Historian

"Display[s] pitch-perfect sensibility that weaves profound human empathy with piercing scholarly critique."
--James F. Brooks, author of Captives and Cousins

"Imagery portrayed within each story. . . will keep readers on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the next sentence, waiting to hear how each narrative plays out."