Beautiful Terrible Ruins: Detroit and the Anxiety of Decline (Paperback)
— Los Angeles Review of Books
"'The borders between art, media, advertising, and popular culture have become increasingly permeable,' Apel writes, 'as visual imagery easily ranges across these formats and as people produce their own imagery on websites and social media.' And the aestheticized ruination of Detroit feeds into a more widespread (even global) 'anxiety of decline' expressed in post-apocalyptic videogame scenarios, survivalist television programs, zombie movies, and so on ... Much of the imagery analyzed in Beautiful Terrible Ruins seems to play right along with that social vision. The nicely composed photographs of crumbling buildings are usually empty of any human presence, while horror movies fill their urban landscapes with the hungry undead - the shape of dreaded things to come."
— Scott McLemee
"Wayne State prof looks behind the fascination of Detroit's ruins: the new pornographers" by Lee DeVito
Read the full interview (http://bit.ly/1FNfkIi)
— Detroit Metro Times
"Bringing her usual due diligence to bear, Apel digs deep, tracing the roots historically, culturally, and politically of the West's fascination with ruination and its import for today ... Essential reading."
— Infinite Mile
"What is refreshing about Apel's approach is that her analysis reaches far beyond the spectacle of abandonment and decay to address the forces behind urban decline. In the process, she delivers a powerful critique of the role of corporate disinvestment and neoliberal globalization in ruining cities."
— Journal of American Studies
"Apel again captivates with her incisive reading of cultural production."
— The Journal of American History
"Dora Apel's multi-layered, thought-provoking account of the decline of Detroit and our visual perception of that decline uses Detroit as a case study to explore the anxiety brought by the repeated and continual emphasis on ruin imagery. An eloquent examination of the aesthetics of decay, the charismatic appeal of both the beautiful and the repulsive, drives the book."
— ARLIS/NA Reviews
"A provocative and challenging book … Recommended. General readers, upper-division undergraduate students, graduate students, and research faculty."
"Writing against the genre of ruin porn, Dora Apel's wonderful Beautiful Terrible Ruins reveals the way decay is inbuilt into capitalism at its creation. An excellent and penetrating study."
— Greg Grandin
"In her thoughtful and riveting take on the decline of Detroit, Dora Apel makes the case that 'ruin porn' images of urban decay say less about a specific city than about the grinding forces of globalism and political abandonment."
— Scott Martelle
"In the early twentieth century, Detroit was defined by Charles Sheeler's photos of the River Rouge plant and Diego Rivera's murals of work. Today, the hulking ruins of old industrial buildings and empty skyscrapers symbolize the city. In this provocative analysis, informed by urban geography, political economy, and art history, Dora Apel reflects on what images of ruined Detroit teach us about the city, popular culture, and American capitalism."
— Thomas J. Sugrue
"Apel mounts a scathing critique of the dominant narrative [of Detroit in Beautiful Terrible Ruins]."
— International Sociology Reviews
"Beautiful Terrible Ruins is a fascinating book. Apel makes a powerful statement about how we need to look more closely at our own ma- terial culture, especially as it is expressed in visual imagery and in the built environment itself in order to better interpret our history. As Apel aptly com- ments, 'to look at Detroit’s beautiful terrible ruins and talk about its decline is talk about everything that is wrong with global capitalism today.'”
— Middle West Review