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Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progressby Douglas Brinkley
Synopses & Reviews
Few endeavors in history can match Ford Motor Company's impact on human civilization. Launched a century ago by a bumptious squad of clever eccentrics-led by the odd visionary mechanic Henry Ford-the first mass-production auto manufacturer would push the rest of the industrialized world into the modern age. Along with other social upheavals, Ford's reasonably priced and well-made assembly-line Model T would mobilize America's middle class while the company's cleverly generous "$5 Day" did no less than redefine industrial labor relations.
In Wheels for the World, Douglas Brinkley, one of our most engaging historians, reveals the riveting details of Ford Motor Company's epic achievements, chronicling the outlandish success of the Tin Lizzie to the beloved Model A through the glory days of the Thunderbird, Mustang, and Taurus, as well as the revolutionary plants where they were built-Highland Park and River Rouge. Brinkley tells of the amazing acquisitions of Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar, and Mazda in the 1990s. His narrative also explores Ford Motor Company's darker aspects, from its founder's anti-Semitism, ill-considered wartime pacifism, and disloyalty-not only to the cohorts who made him the richest man of his time but also to his only son.
Along the way, Brinkley introduces us to the whole cast of colorful characters-from the irascible early brains of the outfit, later U.S. Senator James Couzens; to feisty Me-Decade CEO Lee Iacocca to the earnest young chairman and CEO of today, William Clay Ford, Jr.-whose dedication and vision have created a lustrous legacy around the world. What distinguishes Wheels for the World is not only the freshness of the fascinating new material that Brinkley has uncovered, but also the sweep of his story and the compelling clarity of his prose. In his many previous books, Brinkley has proven himself a master at crafting brilliant, accessible historical narratives and this is his finest achievement yet.
"Readers interested in the history of the Ford Motor Company can find accounts better-written...and more authoritative...but will value this book for its new details and quotes. For general readers, it's a fascinating epic saga of ordinary and extraordinary people who built a great company." Publishers Weekly
"Here is history on the grand scale! In this sweeping, absorbing book, Douglas Brinkley paints, in a compelling narrative, a fascinating figure and his titanic impact on his age. Wheels for the World is a balanced, judicious, unflinching examination of the great issues of Henry Ford's life." Robert A. Caro, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson
"Ford politically and economically was the most significant industrialist of his time. Here, in Doug Brinkley's Wheels for the World, in all relevant detail, is the story down to the present day. More than the author's literary and historical skills are to be thanked. The Ford family, the Company and many others have contributed. Abandoning all petty commitments to secrecy, the Company made available its more than ample files. My recommendation of the book is second only to my admiration of the historical effort and literary talent here so admirably evident." John Kenneth Galbraith
"Wheels for the World is a groundbreaking epic that separates fact from myth about Henry Ford and his company. Written with analytical savvy, clear prose and a deep grasp of automotive history, Douglas Brinkley has produced a first-rate book. In his able hands he manages to transform iconic cars like the Model T, V-8, Thunderbird, and Mustang into lively characters in an exciting Detroit-Dearborn drama. His understanding of international finance is formidable. This is business and social history at its absolute finest. A marvelous achievement just in time for Ford Motor Company's centennial." Lee Iacocca
"Douglas Brinkley's Wheels for the World is a superb centennial history of Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company. It is a work of careful scholarship that rests on Ford's archival records and judiciously assesses the man and the corporation. This is business history as it should be written — a thoughtful analytic study in the context of America's economic and social history. Anyone interested in twentieth-century America will want to read this book." Robert Dallek, author of Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945
Book News Annotation:
Brinkley tells the story of the eccentric inventor who built the Ford Motor Company into an empire, and the epic achievements of the company whose cars—from the Tin Lizzie and Model A, through the Thunderbird and Mustang—became cultural icons. The book also touches on darker aspects of the company, from its founder's anti-Semitism to its unpopular wartime pacifism. Along the way, Brinkley (history, Eisenhower Center for American Studies, U. of New Orleans) introduces a cast of colorful innovators, from the Wright Brothers and Charles Lindbergh to modern-day Ford CEO William Clay Ford Jr. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The 100-year history of the Ford Motor Company is explored in this riveting work by one of the nation's most engaging historians. Brinkley chronicles the company's epic achievements from the early 1900s up into the 1990s.
In this monumental work, one of our finest historians reveals the riveting details of Ford Motor Company’s epic achievements, from the outlandish success of the Model T and V-8 to the glory days of the Thunderbird, Mustang, and Taurus. Brilliant innovators, colorful businessmen, and clever eccentrics, as well as the three Ford factories themselves, all become characters in this gripping drama. Douglas Brinkley is a master at crafting compelling historical narratives, and this exemplary history of one of the preeminent American corporations is his finest achievement yet.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 831-835) and index.
About the Author
Douglas Brinkley is professor of history and the director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans. He is the author of ten award-winning books, including biographies of Dean Acheson, James Forrestal, Jimmy Carter, and Rosa Parks. Brinkley is a frequent commentator on American studies and poetry for NPR's Weekend Edition and is a frequent guest on national television programs.
Table of Contents
PART ONE:THE FARM BOY
1 Origins, 3
2 Starting Up, 24
3 Founding Ford, 49
4 Growing Successes, 74
5 Growing Pains, 90
6 Model T Mania, 113
7 Fordism, 134
8 The $5 Day, 161
PART TWO: THE FORWARD MARCH
PART THREE: THE BATTLE JOINED
PART FOUR: THE MODERN CORPORATION
PART FIVE: THE TURNAROUND YEARS
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