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Arts and Entertainment

Best Book About Baltimore

Not in My Neighborhood: How bigotry shaped a great American city by Antero Pietila

The questions that intrigued Antero Pietila in the late 1960s when he arrived in Baltimore—such as, why is Bolton Hill white?—still illuminate his study of racial segregation by real-estate in Baltimore, especially since Pietila found many of the answers in the minds and archives of the city’s forgotten scholar-hoarders. “The . . . moment of revelation was when I was at the house of Melvin Sykes,” Pietila says. “He goes into the basement, comes out with these bulging files and says, ‘My father was a judge, and he told me never to throw anything away.’” It’s not just that Pietila’s careful research and taut, even-handed prose teaches us something important about the city’s last century. It’s that his book gets at almost everything that was important.

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