Mullane Literary Associates

The Dawn of Detroit by Tiya Miles

The Dawn of Detroit Tiya Miles

Praise for Tiya Miles’s The Dawn of Detroit

Miles gracefully recounts Detroit’s first ‘alternative origin story’ of this much-studied city, which was ‘born of the forced captivity of indigenous and African people’....Miles places Detroit’s history in a more expansive frame than its 20th-century boom and decline, emphasizing racial inequalities far in advance of the Great Migration.

Publishers Weekly, starred review

An exemplary history.... 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, she has crafted a work from which any reader can learn new things. There is no finer writer among historians than Tiya Miles.

Edward Baptist, Cornell University, and author of
The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

A brilliant telling of 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

“African-Americans were also bought and sold in Detroit, though this story is little known and unrecorded by any memorial. Whether those African-Americans were in personal service or worked as trappers or freighters, whether they were claimed by French Canadians, British, or American owners, they were just as unfree as if in New Orleans....A book likely to stand at the head of further research into the problem of Native and African-American slavery in the north country.


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. It is an often ugly– but also a revealing and surprising-story....a pointillist account of a complicated borderland.

Richard White, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History, Stanford University, and
author of
 The Middle Ground and other books

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

About the Author

Tiya Miles, the recipient of a 2011 MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” is an award-winning historian and former chair of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She holds additional appointments as the Elsa Barkley Brown Collegiate Professor of African American Women’s History and Professor of History, American Culture, Native American Studies, and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. Her previous books have received the prestigious Frederick Jackson Turner prize and the best book award from the National Council on Public History, among other awards, and she was selected for Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 and TheGrio’s 100 list of African American leaders. Tiya Miles has appeared on numerous local and syndicated NPR programs and her work has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Detroit Free Press, CNN, the Huffington Post, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and many other media.

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