Mark Leonard's Reviews > American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company

American Icon by Bryce G. Hoffman
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Mar 09, 2012

really liked it
Read from March 31 to April 07, 2012

The transformation at Ford from a company spiraling down towards bankruptcy to the strong car company it is today is a great tale. Hoffman does a good job of telling this story. The first part of the book leans toward a hagiography of Mulally. While Mulally was the leader of the transformation at Ford, the introduction of him makes him out to be more of a saint. This is corrected in the second half of the book, which focuses more on the team involved in the turnaround with Mulally as the leader.

Recapturing the scary days of 2008/2009 when there was a very real possibility that one or more of the Detroit-based car companies could go out of business is the main section of this book. Ford deservedly received a lot of praise for not needing money from the government, but that was as not as clear cut of a decision as the conventional wisdom would lead most to believe.

As the last part of the book emphasizes, the key for Ford to maintain a long-term success is what will happen after Mulally retires. The idea that Mark Fields will take over for Mulally in the future has only grown stronger since this book. Can Ford continue to be a high-functioning team without the man who introduced that environment?

One stylistic issue with the book is that every time a person is introduced in the book, Hoffman feels the needs to identify every non-Caucasian person with their ethnicity. Having every African American person introduced as such makes it seem like that is something central to the theme of the book. No white person is identified as being white. If Hoffman wanted to make some comment about diversity, this was not the way to do it.
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03/31/2012 page 20
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