Baltimore is the setting for (and typifies) one of the most penetrating examinations of bigotry and residential segregation ever published in the United States. Antero Pietila shows how continued discrimination practices toward African Americans and Jews have shaped the cities in which we now live. Eugenics, racial thinking, and white supremacist attitudes influenced even the federal government's actions toward housing in the 20th century, dooming American cities to ghettoization. This all-American tale is told through the prism of Baltimore, from its early suburbanization in the 1880s to the consequences of "white flight" after World War II, and into the first decade of the twenty-first century. The events are real, and so are the heroes and villains. Mr. Pietila's engrossing story is an eye-opening journey into city blocks and neighborhoods, shady practices, and ruthless promoters.
Antero Pietila —
Antero Pietila spent thirty-five years as a reporter with the Baltimore Sun, most of it covering the city's neighborhoods, politics, and government. A native of Finland, he became a student of racial change during his first visit to the United States in 1964. He lives in Baltimore.
Pietila, Antero. Not in my neighborhood: how bigotry shaped a great American city. Ivan R. Dee, 2010. 320p index afp; ISBN 9781566638432. Reviewed in 2011jan CHOICE.
Former Baltimore Sun reporter Pietila, who covered Baltimore neighborhoods and politics for 35 years, has produced an engrossing chronicle that emphasizes the links between racism, real estate practices, and urban politics. Indeed, the author argues they have been inseparable in Baltimore--and the nation. Pietila suggests that federal housing programs (1930s-60s) transformed the eugenics movement into national policy, and he significantly places realtors and developers at the very center of Baltimore politics. Most of the narrative focuses on the period 1910-68, although the author traces racial and real estate patterns back to the 1880s. The third section covers the 1960s and early 1970s. He only briefly sketches in subsequent developments, so the epilogue seems somewhat disconnected from the narrative. White versus black racism and black and white anti-Semitism are the main themes here, but Pietila's nuanced account reveals class and religion added to already complex tensions. For instance, some Jewish developers would not rent or sell to Jewish families. Newspapers and personal interviews provide some colorful details. Secondary scholarship connects the Baltimore example to the national struggle over access to decent housing, driven by optimism, fear, and sometimes violence.
Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. -- A. E. Krulikowski, West Chester University