Tropics of Meta Review

Ryan Reft, an editor at Tropics of Meta and a doctoral student in the History Department at the University of California at San Diego, offers an extensive examination of Planning the Home Front in the context of the historical literature on Detroit, suburbanization, including working-class suburbs, and the relationship between the U.S. military and local governments. Tropics of Meta bills itself as “historiography for the masses.”

Article excerpt from Ryan Reft’s “The Motor City at War: Mobilization, Wartime Housing, and Reshaping Metropolitan Detroit”:

In addition, Peterson focuses far more [than other studies] on the planning aspects of Willow Run—for the military, Detroit and its municipalities, and the federal government—and what that meant for an expanding metropolitan region overwhelmed with infrastructural needs and migrant labor. Finally, Peterson wades deep into the wonkiness of wartime mobilization and provides, at least for this historian, one of the few narratives regarding the debate around and the creation and implementation of the Lanham Act, which proved so important for expanding housing and infrastructure in places ranging from Detroit and San Diego to Oakland and Norfolk, VA. For historians of public housing, it would be hard to underestimate the importance of Peterson’s work.

Tom Boyd, a reporter at the Rocky Mountain Post and managing editor of, included Reft’s article in a thought piece about the lessons Detroit holds for cities of the American West. Links here to the’s “Top 6 reads about Detroit, and lessons to take away from the Midwest’s great experiment” and the longer version, “Detroit Future City: Lessons for the West from a city that learned the hard way,” from the Rocky Mountain Post.