Fordlandia
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Fordlandia

by
3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  1,515 ratings  ·  268 reviews
The incredible story of the forgotten jungle city built by one of the architects of the modern age, Henry Ford.
Paperback, 418 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Icon Books (first published June 9th 2009)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Patrick Gibson
“What happened here?”

I say that a lot.

For a person who likes decay and ruin, New Mexico is an entropy-enthusiasts wet dream. My hobby is exploring ghost towns. Love ‘em, and can’t explain why. You want to find a town taken off the maps a century ago? Chances are I can take you there.

The other morning, I was getting my hit of DarkRoastedBlend.com and came across a picture of an abandoned street of perfectly preserved clapboard houses complete with porches and picket fences. The caption read ‘For...more
Susan
This reads like dystopian fiction, but it's the true story of Henry Ford's maniacal ego, as evidenced by his ill-fated attempt to create a sort of Main Street USA on the banks of the Amazon - complete with MANDATORY square dancing. Yikes, people. Ford hated his own son, admired Hitler, hired armed thugs to put down labor organizers, and dreamed of a utopian paradise whose moral values he would impose upon the families who relied on his factories for employment. The name "Fordlandia" is not the a...more
Mike Prochot
I never really understood why, when growing up as a Boomer, all my elders were "Ford Men". After reading this book, I now know how influential, popular and ahead of his time Henry Ford was to so many people growing up during the heyday of the Ford empire. He was a superstar before the word was invented - a charismatic celebrity who backed up his talk with action. His company the model of a success at so many levels. Eventually of course, succumbing to gross overreaching and finally degrading int...more
David

This book is about a little-known facet of Henry Ford’s career — his attempt to establish a Ford-owned rubber plantation in the Amazon. The plantation wasn’t just intended to ensure a reliable source of rubber, however; it was also an extension of his “industrial village” paradigm into the rest of the world. It was nothing short of an attempt to establish a self-sufficient, Midwestern-style American town in the middle of the jungle. Ford believed so strongly in this aim that he continued to pour

...more
Bill Laine
Henry Ford was the Bill Gates of his day - a man who took a good idea, and himself, to the heights of public consciousness. He was also a man with some quirky ideas about social engineering and the power and wealth to realize just about any project that came to his mind.

This book is a chronicle of one of those projects. A high-minded concept poorly realized. But the author puts Fordlandia, the project, in the context of the times and of the Ford empire. We learn about the incredible River Rogue...more
Derek Emerson
This sounds like an urban legend gone bad (do any go good?), so I had to read about Henry Ford's attempt to build "the American Dream" in the jungles of Brazil. The financial impetus was to grow rubber for tires and other auto parts, but by the time he started rubber prices were low and the need was no longer there. But Ford still decided to create a town to help civilize the jungle and bring American happiness worldwide. It failed of course. The most interesting part of this book is the issue o...more
Julie
The subject matter of this book is interesting, but unfortunately it was a real slog for me. I think it was just that Grandin put in SO MUCH detail and information that it was overwhelming. I mean, it's really good to be thorough in your research, and to back up what you're saying, but no one should EVER have to write another book about this subject EVER AGAIN, because they can't possibly find any more information that Grandin didn't include.

That said, my overall impressions were that Ford was a...more
Your Excellency
This was an interesting and well-written examination of Henry Ford's experimental Fordlandia community, carved out of the Amazonian jungle at the start of the twentieth century. Ford was looking to create his own rubber supply, and at the same time put some of his ideas of a better society into action.

The author provides a well-balanced view of the creation, development and decline of Fordlandia, and also of Ford's life, work and ideals. Henry Ford saw more in his factories' success than just ec...more
Anne
Arrogant, deluded Henry Ford decided not to consult experts in horticulture or the Amazon when he sunk millions of dollars over several years in a rubber farm in Brazil. Predictably, it never delivered. As usual, Ford had half-baked ideas of how pre-industrial America could be revived through irrelevant and ridiculous mandates of how the folks on the "farm" would live. The project was abandoned after several years.

"There is in fact an uncanny reemblance between Fordlandia's rusing water, tower,...more
Clark Hays
Dense, like the rainforest, and just as rich

Note: this review first appeared on Amazon

I don't normally believe in reincarnation, but it's hard not to think I've spent some previous life in the Amazon given my favorite books - of which I now rank Fordlandia - focus on Brazil. It was great to see the other three - Thief at the End of the World, the River of Doubt, The Jungle and the Sea - all mentioned in this fascinating look at Henry Ford's failed experiment in the jungle.

This was a well-researc...more
Curtis Edmonds
I read a smallish chunk of FORDLANDIA sitting on a bench in Animal Kingdom at Disney World, and I recommend that you do the first part. Animal Kingdom is, in many ways, the reverse of what Henry Ford tried to do in Brazil by importing a little bit of small-town Michigan to the Amazon. At Animal Kingdom, Disney "imagineers" have injected a little bit of Africa into the Florida swamps, importing savanna grasses and wild beasts and badly-designed giraffe masks. Animal Kingdom has done rather better...more
Michelle
Hmm. At times, I really liked this story of the Ford Motor Company's Brazil rubber plantation--it is an interesting story, well told. The management and other problems that plagued the plantation make for good reading. What I have a hard time swallowing is author Grandin's assertion that the story proves somehow that capitalism is bad. This really isn't a story about capitalism, even. I'm puzzled at many of the author's assertions. For example, the author seems to believe that because parts of c...more
Louise
When I started this, I thought there was far too much bio of Henry Ford. I was impatient for the Fordlandia adventure to begin. Later I realized how the introductory biography was necessary. Grandin shows how this project defined and reflected the can-do spirit and utter naiveté of Henry Ford.

While not the first of Ford's company towns, Fordlandia was surely his biggest project. The text and photos show the tremendous scale. It was planned to span a region the size of the State of Connecticut. T...more
Eric
I was very excited to find this book at the local library. From the description on the jacket I expected a combination of a good adventure story, history lesson, and insight into a grand experiment. The book delivered but was heavy on the mundane. I expected more content relating to the planning and development of the settlement, but was disappointed by the lack of even a street plan. The book was honest with its foreshadowing of the impending failure of Fordlandia. I certainly felt the disappoi...more
C
On winter break from graduate school, I finally had the chance to catch up on some "pleasure" reading. This book was the perfect first choice. In short, it reminded me why I want to be scholar. This fascinating, well-researched, accessible page-turner discusses the fate of Henry Ford's failed colony/rubber plantation in the Brazilian Amazon. The thesis: Henry Ford "turned the El Dorado myth inside out"; the "Jesus Christ of Industry" came to the promised land not to rape it, but to save it with...more
Nick
Really a treatise on the 20th century's efforts to come to terms with industrialization and its discontents, this book interweaves the colorful and perversely accident-prone history of Henry Ford's quixotic attempt to tame the jungle and grow rubber trees on plantations in Brazil with the larger story. The tale is full of scurrilous characters, foolish stubbornness in the face of an endless list of jungle ailments and troubles, and repeated acts of sheer stupidity. In the end, the effect is disp...more
Courtney
Henry Ford was an odd guy. He was in love with a way of life he helped destroy, obsessed with soy and blindly antisemetic, "Fordlandia" tells us early on. He also had a quixotic streak that led him to pour millions of dollars into the Amazon Rain Forest to create a model American town. He hoped to corner the South American rubber market so he wouldn't be dependent on Asian suppliers. Unfortunately, that outpost wasn't well treated by history, nature, the government of Brazil, the people of the A...more
William
In 1927 Henry Ford was the richest man in the world. Fordlandia was his spectacular failure, though lesser known than the Edsel or the Pinto. Fordlandia is Henry Ford's attempt to start a rubber plantation and a rural town in the heart of the Amazon. This town was well equipped making it one of the most modern towns in Brazil. This was righteous small town, no drink or other forms of immorality, square dance every week.
Sounds nice, except this town came with devastating fungus' and bug infestati...more
Jennifer
I loved this book. The subject is fascinating in itself but Greg Grandin doesn't narrate this non-fiction account of Henry Ford's failed small midwest town plunked in the Amazon as much as he orchestrates its American operatic elements. He writes briskly but with enough detail to humanize each person and to bring alive a sense of the jungle. The story is suspenseful, illuminating and I am in awe of a writer who can make so much material lucid and riveting. Now I want to read more about Henry and...more
Peg Lotvin
I guess there's a myth of Henry Ford; the guy who started the assembly line, who brought out the first mass produced auto able to be afforded by the masses, the inventor of Detroit..actually Dearborn. There's another Henry Ford; one who sought to control every element of his business, who pushed his workers harder and harder for faster production, and one who designed a complete American town of the early 20's within a huge tract of Amazonian jungle. This is the story of that second Henry Ford a...more
Danielle
A fascinating look at Henry Ford, his rise to American prominence, and his attempts to build an American society in the Amazon rainforest. Greg Grandin does a great job of discussing the contradictions in Ford's beliefs and his social and business initiatives. In the sobering last chapter of the book, he also discusses how Fordlandia was one of the first steps in the perhaps inevitable exploitation of the rainforest. Really great book.
Kristina
Not just a tale of hubris (though a bulk of the story was about Ford Company's insistence that man triumphs over nature), this book explores the failure of this Amazon plantation and its future implications. The book was a little redundant and not the fastest read, but I really did enjoy it- not just the manufacturing engineer's perspective, but also from the psychological portrait.
Jason
Although its focus is mostly on a misguided rubber plantation in Brazil, in some ways this book can function as a fairly effective biography of Henry Ford: undoubtedly one of the most significant figures of the 20th century. In the book, Ford weathers the storms of unionization, of (founded) accusations of antisemitism, of the Great Depression and even of responding to the growing dominance of General Motors and creating the Model A before spending his later years obsessed with pacifism and soci...more
Kate P.
The history of Henry Ford's experimental rubber plantation in Brazil in the late 1920's. You also get a bit of history of the Ford Motor Company and of Henry himself. Ford has his own ideas about how things should be done in the jungle and how his workers should live even though he never visited. It was an experiment doomed to failure at a huge expense.
Than Tibbetts
Fordlandia is about as tangential a profile of a major American figure as one gets. Greg Grandin takes on the history of Fordlândia, an ill-fated attempt to wrestle the Amazon jungle into compliance with good, old-fashioned Midwestern manufacturing.1

This is the second Amazon-set profile I’ve read in the last year, the other being The Lost City of Z. Fordlandia doesn’t have the pace or the excitement of Z, but as a reflection on Americanism, at least as prescribed by Henry Ford, it holds its own....more
Emily
Jun 17, 2009 Emily marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Ford made a little city in the South American jungle to produce rubber. Apparently the lifestyle was a bit controlled. Henry Ford made everyone listen to square dance music. Oddly enough they did not revolt until he tried to force everyone to eat whole wheat. How is whole wheat WORSE than square dance music?!?!??!?!?!?!!??!!?!?!?!?
Martha
So, it turns out Henry Ford created a company town and rubber plantation deep in the Amazon during the 1930s. Who knew? Gradin's book isn't exactly gripping, but the story is fascinating, as are Gradin's cultural asides, and his explorations of Ford's larger personality and goals.
Ashley
a beautifully-written history of american capitalism at its margins. also a cautionary tale about the limits of implementing simple plans upon social and ecological complexity. read it.
Kevin Gavagan
For fans of Brave New World and 1984, this is an interesting book to get an idea of the social climate surrounding the writing of both books.
Sarah
I learned a lot about Henry Ford (crazy!) and labor and Brazilian history - plus it was just a good read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression
  • River of Darkness: Francisco Orellana's Legendary Voyage of Death and Discovery Down the Amazon
  • The Tragedy of American Diplomacy
  • The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times
  • The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America
  • The White Rock
  • The Race for Timbuktu: In Search of Africa's City of Gold
  • Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America
  • The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways
  • War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War
  • Born in Blood & Fire: A Concise History of Latin America
  • The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America
  • Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America
  • The Thief at the End of the World: Rubber, Power, and the Seeds of Empire
  • My Paper Chase
  • Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families
  • Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala (Latin American Studies)
  • Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939
40810
Greg Grandin is the author of Fordlandia, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. A Professor of History at New York University, Grandin has published a number of other award-winning books, including Empire's Workshop, The Last Colonial Massacre, and The Blood of Guatemala.

Toni Morrison called Grandin's new work, The Empire of Necessi...more
More about Greg Grandin...
Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War The Blood of Guatemala: A History of Race and Nation A Century of Revolution: Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Violence during Latin America's Long Cold War

Share This Book

“They were “galvanized iron bake ovens,” said Carl LaRue, commenting on Fordlandia’s foibles years later. “It is incredible that anyone should build a house like that in the tropics.” Another visitor described them as “midget hells, where one lies awake and sweats the first half of the night, and frequently between midnight and dawn undergoes a fierce siege of heat-provoking nightmares.” They seemed to be “designed by Detroit architects who probably couldn’t envision a land without snow.”19 Ford managers, said the priest, “never really” 0 likes
“IT WOULD BE tempting to read the story of Fordlandia and Belterra as a parable of arrogance,” 0 likes
More quotes…