Nov 04, 09
Read in September, 2009
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 complex, we learn about Fords rural factory towns (sometimes created from scratch.) Henry Ford had big ideas and the resources to execute them, almost on the whim.
This book told me a lot about the rise of industrialism and the precedent-exploding Ford way of building machinery. It also tells me about the consequences of wielding great power autonomously. I recommend "Fordlandia" if you are interested in the industrial/social history of the early twentieth century. It is a smooth read.
On a side note: Ford's second in command was Harry Bennett. Bennett is portrayed in most sources as pretty much a pure thug. Ford's enforcer. I did a little research and found that Bennett wrote an autobiography("Ford: We Never Called Him Henry"), published in 1951. I found the book on the used market and it is in my stack. I'm interested in how Bennett sees himself. One book leads to another.