If any story deserves to be told, it's that of East St. Louis, the awe-inspiring, tear-inducing city that, in its prime, held 80,000 people but which has dwindled to 30,000 in 2003. It's the great lost suburb that continues to survive seemingly by sheer force of will -- and, of course, sin money. Published this past summer, Made in USA: East St. Louis
tells the story, through history and photographs, of the East Side by tracing its rise as the industrial center of a then-exploding St. Louis and explaining the reasons for its rise and fall. What's best about the book, painstakingly researched and written by SIU-Edwardsville political science professor Andrew J. Theising, though, is the history it reveals and preserves. The lavishly illustrated book reprints hundreds of photographs of the city in its prime -- everything from old advertisements to a series of photos documenting the city's race riots of 1917. Don't know about the race riots? This is the place to go for the lowdown.