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The Poisoned City: Flint's Water and the American Urban Tragedy

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The first full account of the Flint, Michigan, water scandal, an American tragedy, with new details, from Anna Clark, the award-winning Michigan journalist who has covered the story from its beginnings When the people of Flint, Michigan, turned on their faucets in April 2014, the water pouring out was poisoned with lead and other toxins. Through a series of disastrous decis The first full account of the Flint, Michigan, water scandal, an American tragedy, with new details, from Anna Clark, the award-winning Michigan journalist who has covered the story from its beginnings When the people of Flint, Michigan, turned on their faucets in April 2014, the water pouring out was poisoned with lead and other toxins. Through a series of disastrous decisions, the state government had switched the city’s water to a source that corroded Flint’s aging lead pipes. Complaints about the foul-smelling water were dismissed: the residents of Flint—a largely poor African American city of about 100,000 people—were not seen as credible, even in matters of their own lives. It took 18 months of activism and a band of dogged outsiders to force the state to admit that the water was poisonous. But this was only after 12 people died and Flint's children suffered irreparable harm. The long battle for accountability and a humane response to this man-made disaster have only just begun. In the first full-length account of this epic failure, The Poisoned City recounts the gripping story of Flint’s poisoned water through the people who caused it, suffered from it, and exposed it. It is a chronicle of one town, but could also be about any American city, all made precarious by the neglect of infrastructure and the erosion of democratic decision-making. Cities like Flint are set up to fail—and for the people who live and work in them, the consequences may be mortal.


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The first full account of the Flint, Michigan, water scandal, an American tragedy, with new details, from Anna Clark, the award-winning Michigan journalist who has covered the story from its beginnings When the people of Flint, Michigan, turned on their faucets in April 2014, the water pouring out was poisoned with lead and other toxins. Through a series of disastrous decis The first full account of the Flint, Michigan, water scandal, an American tragedy, with new details, from Anna Clark, the award-winning Michigan journalist who has covered the story from its beginnings When the people of Flint, Michigan, turned on their faucets in April 2014, the water pouring out was poisoned with lead and other toxins. Through a series of disastrous decisions, the state government had switched the city’s water to a source that corroded Flint’s aging lead pipes. Complaints about the foul-smelling water were dismissed: the residents of Flint—a largely poor African American city of about 100,000 people—were not seen as credible, even in matters of their own lives. It took 18 months of activism and a band of dogged outsiders to force the state to admit that the water was poisonous. But this was only after 12 people died and Flint's children suffered irreparable harm. The long battle for accountability and a humane response to this man-made disaster have only just begun. In the first full-length account of this epic failure, The Poisoned City recounts the gripping story of Flint’s poisoned water through the people who caused it, suffered from it, and exposed it. It is a chronicle of one town, but could also be about any American city, all made precarious by the neglect of infrastructure and the erosion of democratic decision-making. Cities like Flint are set up to fail—and for the people who live and work in them, the consequences may be mortal.

30 review for The Poisoned City: Flint's Water and the American Urban Tragedy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    “Thousands have lived without love; not one without water.” —W.H. Auden" The short review: Everyone should read this book. All readers interested in learning why the disaster in Flint happened. Plus, all other US readers who couldn’t care less about Flint or its problems. A 2016 study by the National Resources Defense Council found that fifty-three hundred US water systems were in violation of federal lead rules. Now for the longer review. I remember first hearing about Flint’s water system problem “Thousands have lived without love; not one without water.” —W.H. Auden" The short review: Everyone should read this book. All readers interested in learning why the disaster in Flint happened. Plus, all other US readers who couldn’t care less about Flint or its problems. A 2016 study by the National Resources Defense Council found that fifty-three hundred US water systems were in violation of federal lead rules. Now for the longer review. I remember first hearing about Flint’s water system problems from Rachel Maddow in December 2015-January 2016, and being horrified. Then the story was everywhere for approximately 6 months. And then it wasn’t. I never ceased being curious about how Flint’s water supply became and stayed contaminated, and I suspected that what occurred in Flint revealed risks not limited to Flint. Articles and interviews on the subject in 2016 or so seemed to be comfortable stopping with the following oft-repeated but incomplete version of the story: An interim, appointed city manager made a careless, cost-cutting decision to change water sources. As a result, Flint residents, including kids, were exposed to lead in their municipal water system for eighteen months. Lead poisoning does permanent damage. Residents were lied to by multiple layers of politicians, from appointed city managers up to agencies reporting to Governor Rick Snyder, and Gov. Snyder himself. Flint residents’ repeatedly expressed concerns about poor water quality were ignored and, once the crisis was confirmed, the solution came excruciatingly slowly. Many articles repeated a statement that was untrue: that the Flint River was contaminated or toxic. The problem was never the Flint River. It was Flint’s failure to comply with water processing standards that caused the contamination. I haven’t vetted the-below linked timeline from CNN, but no obvious errors jumped out at me, and it’s very useful for readers interested in The Poisoned City for a couple of reasons. First, a timeline reveals what narratives sometimes fail to – just how excruciatingly long it takes us to identify and solve highly urgent problems, if even a person or two serves as a roadblock or source of delay. Those persons running for ostensibly-minor offices, whose names appear at the end of a very long ballot each October and you have no idea what the office-holder does or who the candidates are? Those people are critical to your local experience. Second, you can read this timeline several times and conclude that you still have no idea what happened. Anna Clark’s book is the answer. https://www.cnn.com/2016/03/04/us/fli... Anna Clark’s The Poisoned City is a masterful, efficient account of Flint, from the 1700s to the present. She covers, in particular, the short-term and long-term impacts on Flint of housing segregation, including General Motors’ segregated housing developments offering favorable terms; Harry Truman’s encouragement of General Motors and other manufacturers to move their plants from downtowns to suburbs – in the name of national security --; Michigan’s open records law (that doesn’t apply to its governor or legislature); the details of the federal Lead and Copper Rule – what it requires and how certain cities, including Flint, manipulate their data to claim compliance with its standards; the appropriateness and use of unelected emergency managers and their impact on citizens’ voting rights; and, finally, the impact of successive reductions in headcount of Michigan journalists at just the moment when the Flint story sat ready to be uncovered. By the time Clark reveals that, in addition to everything else, Michigan politicans concealed the existence of the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s Disease in its water, the reader is not at all surprised. If this suggests that The Poisoned City is an accumulated research dump, it is not. Clark presents pertinent facts with the skill of a feature writer. She never goes down a rabbit hole. She has a purpose for every fact she provides, and those facts are directly relevant to the water crisis. Every statement has a corresponding endnote available for readers to review for verification and additional information. Hence, the core of the book is actually 2/3 of its page count, and the last 1/3 is comprised of those supporting end notes, which are well worth reading as you go. This is as much of a page-turner as non-fiction can be. Nothing was inevitable about this tragedy. As Clark notes, other cities with declining populations and aged infrastructure made a multitude of different choices and avoided putting their public water systems at risk. She calls out Lansing and Madison, Wisconsin in particular, as examples of successful approaches. Her last chapter offers suggestions, but also identifies changes that have occurred since the tragedy. Michigan’s emergency manager statute, for example, has been changed in positive ways. Clark is a top-flight story-teller, and her every sentence is supported by fact. That’s the best reason of all for reading The Poisoned City. Thanks to Metropolitan Books and Net Galley for offering me a copy of this excellent book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    A woman who was a high school classmate posted on Facebook about her work distributing bottled water in Flint, Michigan through the American Red Cross. Day after day people came for a case of water. The had to make daily trips because they were only allowed one case a day. The people needed an I.D. to get the water. It was the middle of a brutal winter, and many of the people were elderly or disabled or had no cars. Church pastors came, hoping to get cases of water to deliver to their shut-ins w A woman who was a high school classmate posted on Facebook about her work distributing bottled water in Flint, Michigan through the American Red Cross. Day after day people came for a case of water. The had to make daily trips because they were only allowed one case a day. The people needed an I.D. to get the water. It was the middle of a brutal winter, and many of the people were elderly or disabled or had no cars. Church pastors came, hoping to get cases of water to deliver to their shut-ins who could not make it out. Lori told me that the people were uninformed about the toxic water and how to be safe. Actually, the Red Cross workers didn't know what the Health Department standards would recommend. Could one bathe in the water? Use it to mix baby formula? Filters and water purifiers were distributed, but not everyone knew how to install or maintain them, and the filters only fit on certain kinds of faucets. Setting up the warehouses and creating a system from scratch was 'chaotic,' 'hell'. Some warehouses were overstocked while others emptied quickly leaving people without water. It was heartbreaking, Lori said. Flint once had the highest per-capita incomes in the nation. GM founder and Flint mayor Charles Stewart Mott developed a renowned school system. The city boasted the Flint Symphony Orchestra and the Flint Institute of Arts. My father-in-law grew up in Flint and worked for Fisher Body. His widowed mother found work at GM and participated in the Woman's Brigade during the Sit-Down Strike. His eldest son opened his professional offices in Flint and raised his family there. When GM closed its auto plants over twenty thousand residents left. Businesses closed. The city tax base was gone and revenue sharing was sidelined to balance the state budget. An economic turndown and mortgage crisis devastated the country. Still, Flint was Michigan's seventh largest city with 49,000 residents. The community was not down yet and neighborhood civic programs for change and betterment were led by the University of Michigan Flint, Habitat for Humanity, and church groups. The state assigned an Emergency Manager to oversee Flint and solve its budget crisis. Buying treated water from Detroit Water and Sewerage was costly. It was decided to switch to the Karegnodi Water Authority, drawing water from Lake Huron, and process the water by reopening Flint's water treatment plant. Until the new source of water was in place they would draw water from the Flint River. The state's environmental agency had warned that using Flint River water was a bad idea. The decision was based on cost-effectiveness. As the Detroit Free Press observed, the state had "voted for a business person" when they voted for Governor Snyder, the "bottom line" being his priority. "Governing a state as well as governing a nation is not like running a business. He and the people of Flint have found out the hard way." Residents complained of bad smelling coffee-colored tap water, skin rashes, and illnesses. Children lost hair, suffered aches and pains. For eighteen months, the city, state and federal governments delayed action, claiming the water was safe. Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes which hold one-fifth of the world's freshwater yet Flint residents were drinking tap water that was toxic. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality had suffered staff and budget cuts although monitoring the largest number of community water systems in the country. People came down with Legionnaire's disease for years but there was no public notice about the outbreak. Forty-six patients at McLaren Hospital in Flint became ill and ten died of the disease. Four years passed before a Wayne State University investigation traced the outbreak to the switch to Flint River water and corrosion in pipes. Every governing authority had failed the people of Flint. Water quality tests were skewed to lessen the amount of lead found. Citizens with the highest amount of lead found their test results eliminated from the results. In 2015 the State Integrity Report Card from the Center for Public Integrity ranked Michigan dead LAST. Snyder signed bills "that did more to conceal the actions of state government," including political donors. Journalism was undergoing deep cuts, with fewer local journalists employed--a loss of local watchdogs. The Poisoned City puts the crisis in the context of the history of Flint, the development of water sources, and legislation for environmental protection. It tells the story of the grass-roots activists who demanded justice. And how the media brought the story to the public, beginning with Michigan Public Radio which first reported the problem to Rachel Maddow who brought it to national attention. Liability for causing environmental hazards rarely punishes the polluter. In the case of Love Canal, the New York State neighborhood poisoned by Hooker Chemicals' leaking toxic waste storage, the courts held Hooker responsible for cleanups but not punitive damages for the harm the residents suffered. The law requires evidence of intent to cause harm. In Flint, lawsuits were filed over the poisoned water, Legionella, damaged plumbing, lost property values and paying for water only fit, as one said, to flush toilets. The devaluation of Flint, mostly poor and African American, was evident when the EPA made the decision not to provide financial aid for buying filters because then other cities would demand them and Flint was not "the kind of community we want to go out on a limb for." Children were being poisoned by lead in the city water lines. Dr. Hanna-Attisha studied the records of children treated at Hurley Medical Center in Flint and discovered a rise in blood-lead levels in 27,000 children. There is no 'cure' for the damage from lead poisoning. In 2016, Governor Snyder admitted, "Government failed you--federal, state, and local leaders--by breaking the trust you placed in us. I am sorry most of all that I let you down. You deserve better." High ranking Michigan officials have legal immunity. A class-action lawsuit did settle a deal which included $87 million for Flint to locate and replace water lines by 2020 at no cost to the homeowners. Criminal investigations brought indictments of authorities who had falsified or buried information or obstructed investigations. Before Flint, Washington, D.C. struggled with lead in their water. Another predominately African American community was allowed to be poisoned for years before the issue was addressed. Two American cities have been proactive about removing lead water pipes, Madison, WS and Lansing, MI. Lansing had the advantage of a city-owned system, The Board of Water and Light, and was able to completely overhaul the system, removing all lead pipes. Mayor Virge Bernero said, "...the poor suffer the most...the rich can insulate themselves...they can move out...Though ultimately, when we have a complete and utter infrastructure failure...no one is safe." Recently, the distribution of bottled water to Flint was ended. The water lead levels have been brought to standards. But the residents no longer trust the authorities to protect them. Nestle', who draws Michigan spring water for $200 a year for resale will provide several months of water to Flint. Actors Will and Jaden Smith have been providing water to Flint. Flint is not the only city with lead pipes. And I shudder to consider what lies ahead if we are not able to address the aging infrastructure of America. I received a free ebook from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    “This is the story of how the City of Flint was poisoned by its own water. It was not because of a natural disaster, or simple negligence, or even because some corner-cutting company was blinded by profit. Instead, a disastrous choice to break a crucial environmental law, followed by eighteen months of delay and cover-up by the city, state, and federal governments, put a staggering number of citizens in peril. Their drinking water, it turned out, was full of lead and other toxins…There is no kno “This is the story of how the City of Flint was poisoned by its own water. It was not because of a natural disaster, or simple negligence, or even because some corner-cutting company was blinded by profit. Instead, a disastrous choice to break a crucial environmental law, followed by eighteen months of delay and cover-up by the city, state, and federal governments, put a staggering number of citizens in peril. Their drinking water, it turned out, was full of lead and other toxins…There is no known cure for lead poisoning. The threat invaded the most intimate spaces of people’s lives: their bodies, their homes, their meals, the baths they gave their children, the formula they fed their babies…” - Anna Clark, The Poisoned City The Flint water crisis is one of those things that I was only vaguely aware of while it was ongoing. Part of me feels guilty about this. After all, the residents of a major American city were unknowingly jeopardizing their own lives every time they opened a faucet. Meanwhile, the state and local governments were busy gaslighting them by insisting that the oddly colored, foul smelling, bad tasting water was completely safe. This is something to which I should have paid more attention. On the other hand, I’m not the Giver. I don’t have the capacity to stay abreast of all the world’s tragedies. Nevertheless, it’s something I’ve been meaning to catch up on. Thankfully, Anna Clark has provided a brisk, elegantly written primer on this new American tradition: the collapse of infrastructure. The Poisoned City is the story not only of a city misled by elected officials and betrayed by faulty public services, but a larger tale of failing cities and the price we will have to pay if we accept that failure. At 215 pages of text, this is rather concise. Yet it covers a lot of ground. The crisis itself began with the decision by Flint to switch from water supplied by Detroit, which was safe but extremely expensive (and came from Lake Huron), and join a new water authority. Unfortunately, the new authority would take some time to come online. In the meantime, the Flint River would be used as a stopgap. While the river itself was not toxic – a point this book could have made clearer, earlier – it was not being properly treated. Because of this, the water had a very corrosive effect on the old lead pipes, allowing extremely high levels of lead to leach into the water. This is not a good thing. In a chilling section on the history of this base metal, Clark enumerates the reasons that lead has been used for so many purposes (including pipes that are “flexible enough to bend through an underground landscape of tree roots and cellars”). But this functionality comes at a cost, especially for children: Children are most vulnerable to lead poisoning because their developing bodies absorb up to five times more lead than an adult from the same amount of exposure…Once in the bloodstream, lead disrupts the normal operation of a child’s cells, particularly the way that they produce energy and communicate to the nervous system. Lead accumulates in the teeth, bones, and soft tissues – the same places that collect calcium – which means that small, sustained exposures can build up to a severe amount of lead in the body. This can cause brain swelling, fatigue, anemia, vomiting, abdominal pain, irritability, aggressive and antisocial behavior, slowed growth, hearing problems, learning disabilities, diminished IQ, reduced attention spans, kidney failure, seizures, coma, and, in extreme cases, death. The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent research center at the University of Washington, estimates that 494,550 deaths worldwide in 2015 can be attributed to lead exposure, mostly in low-and middle-income countries. It also estimate a loss of more than 9 million life years due to the long-term impact of lead. Lead in the water was only part of the problem. There were other toxins, and also an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. Part of the complexity of the story is that even though there was a lot wrong with the water, it manifested in different ways, in different areas. In certain parts of Flint, the water came out safe; in other parts, usually the lower-income sections of town, ravaged by blight and abandoned buildings, it was potentially lethal. Some people reported the water smelling and tasting foul; others did not (it is never quite made clear what caused the taste and odor problems). The quality of the water depended on the types of pipes, their age, and how much they were used. In part, The Poisoned City is about indifference bordering on – and sometimes turning into – deceit. This indifference and deceit, directed at a struggling city with a large black population, was tinged with issues of race and class. But Clark also tells of a more uplifting side, with people in the community refusing to give up on themselves. She covers the well-known “heroes”, such as pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha and civil engineer Marc Edwards. However, she does a good job of reminding the world that Flint was not a borough of helpless victims. Instead, it was populated by greasy wheels like LeeAnne Walters, who refused to meekly submit when the experts told her that nothing was wrong. It was populated by church leaders who led bottled-water drives, and community activists who attracted attention, and a dogged journalist who wouldn’t quit once he had the scent. Flint is paradigmatic example of what happens when systems fail and institutions break down. No amount of sugarcoating can change that. But it is also about grass roots empowerment and fighting city hall. One of the most interesting things that Clark does is place the Flint water crisis into a larger context. She traces the history of this legacy city, as it became an auto-making boom town that went bust. In the process, she points to a sinister side of economic growth, including redlining, federally-subsidized housing segregation, and racially discriminatory covenants, which created sharply divided cities. Deeply-rooted problems that exist today are the offspring of deeply-wrong choices made decades ago. As people flee the city for the suburbs, they leave a big, hollowed-out system to be supported by a shrinking tax base. Many of America’s so-called “dying cities” are surrounded by rings of wealthier municipalities that circle and feed off the host like tapeworms during the day, and then escape, tax free, with the evening commute back home. Meanwhile, vital parts of the national network, especially roads and bridges, age relentlessly without repair. We take them for granted until they fail, often spectacularly. The economic stratification, environmental impacts, and social consequences of these patterns are worth their own book. Suffice to say, The Poisoned City is a good jumping off point for the further exploration of modern urban issues. Lead is one toxic legacy in America’s cities. Another is segregation, secession, redlining, and rebranding: this is the art and craft of exclusion. We built it into the bones of our cities as surely as we laid lead pipes. The cure is inclusion. It is trite to say there is opportunity in the wake of disaster. Clark’s optimistic calls for “positive action” can feel almost weightless. A forced silver lining on a toxic cloud. Then again, if you do not learn from your mistakes, then your mistakes have been made in vain, and they will almost certainly be repeated. The costs of those mistakes can be as large as a bridge, which has just collapsed into a river, or as small as a glass of water, swimming with neurotoxins.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robin Bonne

    What happened to Flint, Michigan? This book answers the big questions surrounding the Flint Water Crisis. The author sorted out all the details and explains clearly what happened. I appreciate all the research that went into this book to provide a clear explanation of what is going on in Flint. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    This is a huge ‘wake-up’ call for all of us who take for granted that the water that comes out of our taps is safe. We trust that our Public Works departments are doing their jobs to ensure that the water is treated correctly—and that the County, the State, and Federal Government will do their jobs to ensure that all municipalities provide safe water to their residents. What happened in Flint was caused by catastrophic failures at every level of Government. Flint has fallen on hard times, far fro This is a huge ‘wake-up’ call for all of us who take for granted that the water that comes out of our taps is safe. We trust that our Public Works departments are doing their jobs to ensure that the water is treated correctly—and that the County, the State, and Federal Government will do their jobs to ensure that all municipalities provide safe water to their residents. What happened in Flint was caused by catastrophic failures at every level of Government. Flint has fallen on hard times, far from the days when its residents earned above average pay due to the plethora of auto factories. Many of the plants have closed. Residents moved to other cities for jobs. The State slashed revenue sharing. And it certainly didn’t help that a majority of its residents are people of color. However, what does endure is a great community. I have participated in several of the 10K races (The Crim) held in the city and the residents are AWESOME in their support. It is this sense of community that helped the residents to organize, demonstrate and demand action from their governmental entities. It was the community that worked with scientists (Mark Edwards from Virginia Tech) to sample water throughout the city. One of the heroes in this story is Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician that collated the data regarding lead levels in Flint’s children. And much can be said for the role journalists played in bringing the story to the public—particularly Rachel Maddow for her national exposure of Flint’s water problems. But people died from Legionaire’s Disease. Pets died from drinking the water. People were sickened. And children will live from the effects of lead poisoning for the rest of their lives. None of us should take our water for granted—ever, ever again.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing an advanced copy of this book in return for an honest review. This book is phenomenal, and I believe anyone who wants to get a good understanding of the water crisis in Flint should read this book. It's incredibly well-researched and provides background on all the factors behind the water crisis and talks about systemic racism, the history behind lead pipes, and environmental racism that has lead to POC being the most harmed from environmental Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing an advanced copy of this book in return for an honest review. This book is phenomenal, and I believe anyone who wants to get a good understanding of the water crisis in Flint should read this book. It's incredibly well-researched and provides background on all the factors behind the water crisis and talks about systemic racism, the history behind lead pipes, and environmental racism that has lead to POC being the most harmed from environmental disasters. Everyone should read this book and be reminded that man-made environmental crisis' are prevalent even when they are not talked about. Phenomenal book, I think everyone should read it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Leanne

    *arc* Wow. So informative- everyone should read this book. It is truly scary!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    A well written, organized, and researched account of the water crisis in Flint. Clark does an excellent job providing the reader with an understanding of the situation that is all-encompassing of the contemporary and historically rooted issues that culminated into the many problems of Flint's water crisis. She provides historical background on all of these elements - from contributing factors such as the presence of lead in our society and racism in Flint's history, to the history of activism an A well written, organized, and researched account of the water crisis in Flint. Clark does an excellent job providing the reader with an understanding of the situation that is all-encompassing of the contemporary and historically rooted issues that culminated into the many problems of Flint's water crisis. She provides historical background on all of these elements - from contributing factors such as the presence of lead in our society and racism in Flint's history, to the history of activism and social justice in Flint and the rest of the US. Clark makes a call to action, asking our governments to be proactive in preventing catastrophes when it comes to providing citizens with drinking water. An underlining theme: its the communities, activists and individuals who are smart enough to learn from history and take steps in avoiding mistakes of the past - but people in government are not so intelligent. Clark's telling of the Flint water crisis notes how our communities are shining in response to disaster, while people in local and state governments are failing those communities by refusing to take necessary preventative actions.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Martin Ott

    This is a must read. Shocking - you will think differently about topics such as city infrastructure and the trustworthiness of our supposed EPA protectors and city governments.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karen Nelson

    Anna Clark's "A Poisoned City" is such a well researched and damning account of the Flint, Michigan water crisis, reveals who is responsible, and what led to it. It truly is a sickening account of how poor decisions by “leadership” and greed can come together and affect children and families for something so basic as water. I have been following this crisis since Rachel Maddow brought it to our collective attention, and must say this book was hard to read at times. Not that it isn’t eloquently e Anna Clark's "A Poisoned City" is such a well researched and damning account of the Flint, Michigan water crisis, reveals who is responsible, and what led to it. It truly is a sickening account of how poor decisions by “leadership” and greed can come together and affect children and families for something so basic as water. I have been following this crisis since Rachel Maddow brought it to our collective attention, and must say this book was hard to read at times. Not that it isn’t eloquently executed. It is. Not that it isn’t true. It is. Not that it isn’t fascinating. It is. It is that in the United States of America in 2018, children still don’t have safe water, and Washington doesn’t seem to care. I will be recommending this to as many people as possible, and likely using it as a book club selection for a group I facilitate. The more people who are aware of the politics of water, the better. I can’t say enough positives about this book. I am just so sorry it had to be written. A solid five stars. Thank you to #NetGalley and the publisher for a pre-publication ebook in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    Thanks to Netgalley and Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books for the advanced reader copy of this book. I recommend this well-researched and thoughtful investigation into the recent Flint, MI water crisis. Before reading this, I would have ascribed the Flint water fiasco mainly to government bureaucracy and ineptitude, but I now also see the systemic racism laid out by the author and wonder why I didn’t consider that factor before. It does seem it would have played out differentl and with a lot more in Thanks to Netgalley and Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books for the advanced reader copy of this book. I recommend this well-researched and thoughtful investigation into the recent Flint, MI water crisis. Before reading this, I would have ascribed the Flint water fiasco mainly to government bureaucracy and ineptitude, but I now also see the systemic racism laid out by the author and wonder why I didn’t consider that factor before. It does seem it would have played out differentl and with a lot more interest if it had been a less marginalized community. Many parts of the book are shocking, but perhaps most disturbing is the kind of similar doomsday scenarios you can imagine playing out across the country, in so many cities. Definitely a worthwhile read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Xe Sands

    Everyone - EVERYONE - should read this.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    An exceptional book that gives a detailed account of the Flint water crisis. A great deal of research and historical background information provide the backdrop for the tragedy that inflicted this city through the poisoning of their water. The resilience of the people of Flint always shines through. I borrowed a copy of this book from the library, but will be purchasing one for myself because it is that good, that powerful, and that important. I have made numerous trips to Flint in the midst of a An exceptional book that gives a detailed account of the Flint water crisis. A great deal of research and historical background information provide the backdrop for the tragedy that inflicted this city through the poisoning of their water. The resilience of the people of Flint always shines through. I borrowed a copy of this book from the library, but will be purchasing one for myself because it is that good, that powerful, and that important. I have made numerous trips to Flint in the midst of all of this and met some of the most wonderful people. This story is a testimony to their ability to overcome terrible odds and make something beautiful out of a tragedy. May we all learn by their example.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Musiclib

    Clark's journalistic telling of the circumstances surrounding the poisoning of the citizens of the city of Flint shines a needed light on the historical trends that, combined with more concern for money saved than people, put Flint in the path of this tragedy long before the water switch. Heavily researched and relying on sources such as FOIA'ed emails, government reports, and interviews, Clark also highlights how decisions made during the quick push to populate Flint during GM's booming years i Clark's journalistic telling of the circumstances surrounding the poisoning of the citizens of the city of Flint shines a needed light on the historical trends that, combined with more concern for money saved than people, put Flint in the path of this tragedy long before the water switch. Heavily researched and relying on sources such as FOIA'ed emails, government reports, and interviews, Clark also highlights how decisions made during the quick push to populate Flint during GM's booming years in the early 20th century contributed to the water crisis. Published as the preliminary hearings began for the state and local officials who have been charged - and just months before the 2018 midterm elections, where the state Attorney General is running for governor - this book is a wonderful if yet painful telling of the suffering of Flint, who still must filter their water today.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Latisha Joujoute

    " There seemed to be enemies everywhere. People in power were working harder to protect themselves and their instituations than do what was right, he felt which seemed to him to be an utter betrayal of public trust." I am shocked by the government of Flint and the ways they tried to cover it up. This is an exact example of how corrupted politicians are and how they only care about themselves.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Monique Stanton

    Ms. Clark’s book should be mandatory reading in government, civics, and history classes. Really everyone should read it. It gives a deep understanding of the disinvestment in cities, segregation, and water. The Flint water crisis is still happening today and the book sheds detailed light on how local, state, and federal officials all played a part in this nightmare. I highly recommend it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Giulia

    Chock full of information and details on what actually happened in Flint, Michigan when the city decided to stop using Detroit water to avoid the high cost. It is very disheartening to read that fellow human beings really did not care that other humans were basically being poisoned from their water supply-it is also hard to believe that could happen. But, it did happen and the author of this book, Anna Clark, does a great job explaining the whole sad story from the lead poisonings to the legionn Chock full of information and details on what actually happened in Flint, Michigan when the city decided to stop using Detroit water to avoid the high cost. It is very disheartening to read that fellow human beings really did not care that other humans were basically being poisoned from their water supply-it is also hard to believe that could happen. But, it did happen and the author of this book, Anna Clark, does a great job explaining the whole sad story from the lead poisonings to the legionnaires disease that spread after Flint started using Flint River water through their old water system. I had no past knowledge on what had happened to Flint other than people were getting sick from the water supply-this book was great in filling me in on pretty much the whole scandal. Poor people always get the shaft that is just the way it is, however, when it comes to water eventually the problems will even reach the rich. This is a societal issue-noone can live with out clean safe water. Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the chance to read and review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Grace Lerner

    "The lack of attention spoke to the level of importance we ascribed 'those' people in Flint at the time, not that they didn't exist." (The report from the Commission investigating the crisis.) Anna Clark's "A Poisoned City" is a damning, thoughtful, and thorough account of the Flint water crisis, what led to it, and the systems (and people) that failed along the way. At times I found myself shaking my head as I read, dumbfounded by the poor decisions, lack of attention paid to the crisis, and bia "The lack of attention spoke to the level of importance we ascribed 'those' people in Flint at the time, not that they didn't exist." (The report from the Commission investigating the crisis.) Anna Clark's "A Poisoned City" is a damning, thoughtful, and thorough account of the Flint water crisis, what led to it, and the systems (and people) that failed along the way. At times I found myself shaking my head as I read, dumbfounded by the poor decisions, lack of attention paid to the crisis, and biases demonstrated by leadership. I plan on recommending this to as many people as possible, especially those ignorant to the situation in Flint or those looking to learn more. The book will leave you more informed, but not much more hopeful that history won't continue to repeat itself (as it already has time and again). The people of Flint still don't have safe drinking water and the distribution of free bottled water has ended. And so it goes.... Many thanks to Netgalley and Henry Holt for early access to this book. My opinion is my own.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tracy (The Pages In-Between)

    Thank you Henry Holt #Partner for sending me a free copy of this book, in exchange of an honest review. I rate this a 5  out of 5 Stars. Bare with me guys, this will be my first time reviewing a non-fiction book, but this one is very important to me, and something I think EVERYONE should be made aware of. The City of Flint, is something I am fascinated with for many reasons, not just the water crisis, but also the city as a whole. Have you seen the docu-series on Netflix called Flint Town? If you Thank you Henry Holt #Partner for sending me a free copy of this book, in exchange of an honest review. I rate this a 5  out of 5 Stars. Bare with me guys, this will be my first time reviewing a non-fiction book, but this one is very important to me, and something I think EVERYONE should be made aware of. The City of Flint, is something I am fascinated with for many reasons, not just the water crisis, but also the city as a whole. Have you seen the docu-series on Netflix called Flint Town? If you haven't I would highly advise watching it.  What I discovered reading this book is, it's so much more than the water crisis, it's the racism, the poverty, the politics, the infrastructure of the city, the money crisis,that's what makes this city suffer and all of that is touched upon in this book. What the people of Flint have to endure, and still have to suffer through is enough to break my heart. They deserved better, they still do.  This book was very well thought out, it was researched incredibly well, and I really enjoyed reading it. It took me a bit longer to read it than fiction books, but it's a very intense topic. Reading this, I just kept reminding myself, this isn't a movie, this isn't fiction, this is real life, and this is what people go through in Flint. Can you imagine waking up one day, to being poisoned by your water? To complain to the city, to be told not to use your water, but hey you still have to pay for it!! It's insane to me!  If all fiction books were written this way, I would most definitely read more. Major kudos to Anna Clark.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Means

    Anna Clark touches on so many issues- urbanization, industrialization, segregation, and the geography of poverty to name a few. Water is a basic necessity and no one should be denied access. An interesting comment that was made was that the people of Flint and the rest of America could not get over this happening on American soil— unclean water only happens in Third World countries. The mentality pervades that it is ok if people in other parts of the world don’t have clean water— it’s almost expe Anna Clark touches on so many issues- urbanization, industrialization, segregation, and the geography of poverty to name a few. Water is a basic necessity and no one should be denied access. An interesting comment that was made was that the people of Flint and the rest of America could not get over this happening on American soil— unclean water only happens in Third World countries. The mentality pervades that it is ok if people in other parts of the world don’t have clean water— it’s almost expected in certain countries. This same mentality persisted in Flint— the “haves” never went without water, yet the “have-nots” couldn’t even shower using tap water lest they break out into a horrible rash. It is imperative that we all serve as stewards of the environment and refuse to allow some access to basic resources and others not. There’s absolutely no reason besides negligence that people who have access to abundant water resources should not have access to potable water. Flint’s story is not over-there has been no happily ever after. Temporary fixes have been made for the permanent aftermath of poisoned water. If you are interested in learning more, the author provides comprehensive notes and a bibliography. If interested in examining photos of Flint, check out Matt Black’s photo essay on the Global Oneness Project.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Schulman

    I was given an advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review. We all know how bad the water has been in Flint for the past few years, but this book lays out that it's actually been going on for decades, and has designed to specifically target African-Americans. This is already really shocking, but the level of historical detail and pages and pages and pages of facts and statistics really bring home how racism and corporate greed have allowed an entire community of people to raise their I was given an advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review. We all know how bad the water has been in Flint for the past few years, but this book lays out that it's actually been going on for decades, and has designed to specifically target African-Americans. This is already really shocking, but the level of historical detail and pages and pages and pages of facts and statistics really bring home how racism and corporate greed have allowed an entire community of people to raise their children sick, with no real action from the people who trust to keep our water clean. Very important read in 2018.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paula Lyle

    This is an angry book and thank God for that. There are so many things that contributed to the problems in Flint, Michigan that it is almost beyond understanding. It seems especially noteworthy in the current climate where the EPA is protecting businesses and ignoring and under-reporting danger to the general public. Way too few people were actually held accountable for their actions, which should scare the rest of us. As the book makes very clear, there was a perfect storm of events in Flint, b This is an angry book and thank God for that. There are so many things that contributed to the problems in Flint, Michigan that it is almost beyond understanding. It seems especially noteworthy in the current climate where the EPA is protecting businesses and ignoring and under-reporting danger to the general public. Way too few people were actually held accountable for their actions, which should scare the rest of us. As the book makes very clear, there was a perfect storm of events in Flint, but there are lots of other types of infrastructure which is being taped together or ignored altogether. To imagine that the problems encountered in Flint are confined to that area is laughable. It will be heartbreaking to find out whose turn will be next. I received an eARC from NetGalley.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Catie

    "By 2017, 52 percent of Michigan's black residents and 16 percent of Latinos had lived in cities governed by unelected authorities." "Hazardous waste facilities were consistently located in places where people of color tended to live. This fact is so persistent that race is the very best indicator of the presence of pollutants, even when controlled for other factors such as income and property values." "Infrastructure, the ties that literally bind us, one to another, requires our consistent care a "By 2017, 52 percent of Michigan's black residents and 16 percent of Latinos had lived in cities governed by unelected authorities." "Hazardous waste facilities were consistently located in places where people of color tended to live. This fact is so persistent that race is the very best indicator of the presence of pollutants, even when controlled for other factors such as income and property values." "Infrastructure, the ties that literally bind us, one to another, requires our consistent care and attention."

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    Both Ms. Clark’s book and Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s memoir on the Flint water crisis are excellent accounts of this public health tragedy. Both books belong in the “True Crime” section at libraries and bookstores.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Leah Angstman

    My review of this book is coming to a major outlet. Will update at that time.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amber Ogden

    This was a heavy read, however very necessary. This may be a biased review as I love all of Clark's work. She is an amazing journalist and is not afraid to get in the trenches of a story as the Flint story. This book covers all the basis and actually had me wanting more as in what are the next steps for these residents, government officials involved etc. GREAT READ!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    A ten hour car ride later, this book is filled with the truth about what happened in Flint, Michigan. It could happen anywhere there are lead water pipes. It should be required reading for anyone taking classes regarding the environment.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    At its heart this is a well researched and well written book on the Flint Water Crisis. It goes much deeper than the water crisis though, reaching back to explain the history and systemic racism that Flint has faced in the past decades. It was heartbreaking, illuminating, and hard to put down.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ted Haussman

    Excellent and well-researched book that traces the rise and fall of Flint, Michigan and how circumstances led to the colossal mistakes and cover-ups over the disastrous switch to a new water source without appropriate corrosion controls (which in turn caused old lead pipes to leach lead and other waterborne diseases to grow and fester). Fascinating and horrifying all the same.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mike He

    As President Ronald Reagan said in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1981, "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." The Poisoned City describes in great details how bureaucracy and inefficiency on the part of the government have led to one tragedy after another in the city of Flint when people's right for safe and clean drinking water was violated and abused. Author Anna Clark deserves a huge credit in exposing, through extensive rese As President Ronald Reagan said in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1981, "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." The Poisoned City describes in great details how bureaucracy and inefficiency on the part of the government have led to one tragedy after another in the city of Flint when people's right for safe and clean drinking water was violated and abused. Author Anna Clark deserves a huge credit in exposing, through extensive research, what really happened to the lead poisoned water crisis in Flint and how citizens, activists, journalists and environmental protectionists work together to overcome difficulties and fight back for their inalienable rights in life.

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