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Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City
Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City
Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City
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Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City

Scris de Greg Grandin

Povestit de Jonathan Davis

Evaluare: 3 din 5 stele

3/5

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Informații despre cartea audio

Fordlandia by National Book Award finalist Greg Grandin tells the enthralling tale of Henry Ford's failed attempts to transform a Connecticut-sized chunk of Brazilian rainforest into a homespun slice of American utopia. "Fordlandia is . a genuinely readable history recounted with a novelist's sense of pace and an eye for character. It is a significant contribution [that is] grossly enjoyable."-Los Angeles Times
LimbăEnglish
Data lansării11 iun. 2010
ISBN9781449808648
Autor

Greg Grandin

Greg Grandin is the author of The End of the Myth, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and Fordlandia, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His widely acclaimed books also include The Last Colonial Massacre, Kissinger's Shadow, and The Empire of Necessity, which won the Bancroft and Beveridge awards in American history. He is Peter V. and C. Van Woodward Professor of History at Yale University.

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Recenzii pentru Fordlandia

Evaluare: 3.1807909604519775 din 5 stele
3/5

177 evaluări21 recenzii

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  • Evaluare: 5 din 5 stele
    5/5
    The vivid description and detailed recount of Henry Ford’s vision to create a rubber plantation in the Amazon, and sense of a utopian existence of Fordlandia ; brings forth a gripping story that shows a very different view of this famous and complex individual.
  • Evaluare: 2 din 5 stele
    2/5
    This should have been a fascinating story and yet it was a struggle to finish (and I do not discourage easily.)
  • Evaluare: 4 din 5 stele
    4/5
    While superficially bizarre this examination of Henry Ford's pet project to rationalize rubber production on modern lines is a great example of setting out from arbitrary (if defensible) first principles only to wind up with a disaster. Motivated by pique against a British initiative to create a cartel of natural rubber producers Henry Ford assumed that his normal operating procedures could tame the Amazon and that he would do well by doing good by bringing his version of modern civilization to the benighted Brazilians; whether they wanted it or not. It's all apiece of what Charles Lindbergh described as the Ford philosophy of act first (when inspiration struck) and plan later, creating a situation that the author describes (if it were a movie) as a cross between "Modern Times" and "Fitzcarraldo." I know that I'm also reminded of the Soviet Gulag system in its prime, where with enough resources, enough will, and enough bodies, one could triumph over any obstacle. I suspect that some readers will learn more about the machinations of the Ford Motor Company than they really want to know as the author does not gloss over Old Man Ford's often disquieting and creepy behavior. On the other hand, the region of Brazil in question is now a sinkhole of the worst excesses of modern capitalism in the "Age of Globalism" to the degree that Ford's paternalism has a certain degree of nobility in the rapidly fading afterglow of its demise.
  • Evaluare: 4 din 5 stele
    4/5
    Did you know that Henry Ford, in the middle of fighting unions, being anti-Semetic, and otherwise shaping car culture, tried to build a productive village in the Brazilian rainforest in order to supply latex to his production lines? I did not! It didn’t go well, for a variety of reasons both environmental and human. The anti-government Ford ended up relying heavily both on the Brazilian and US governments in trying to make a go of Fordlandia, but it still didn’t work. The last chapter is a truly depressing account of deforestation and environmental destruction in the Amazon, but what the book really brings home is that, though our culture celebrates the successes of private enterprise, we don’t talk about private failures a lot. And most businesses, and even most endeavors of successful businesses, fail. The difference between businesses and government is that, when government fails, it can’t just go bankrupt and go away.
  • Evaluare: 2 din 5 stele
    2/5
    Henry Ford build a rubber plantation and community in the Amazon. He wanted to be in total control of all aspects of life there--even though he never visited it. He made his managers who oversaw the settlement abide by his rules. He had rules like: only brown rice is to be served in the cafeteria. (Because he thought it was healthier, never mind what the native people actually wanted. He was trying to build a replica of his version of an efficient, clean, moral American community and workplace in the middle of a jungle where the workers where native tribesman who had never used clocks before. And who rioted at one point, smashing the time clocks he had installed. This story, and Ford, can be facinating but this book went into way too much detail about every single thing and it became a tedious read. We read and discussed it in book group and all the members thought the same thing. Fans of detailed examinations of one aspect of history--this is the book for you.
  • Evaluare: 4 din 5 stele
    4/5
    Very interesting. I had no idea such settlements had been a popular thing. Definitely something that should be on the must read list for anyone interested in those times.
  • Evaluare: 4 din 5 stele
    4/5
    This is the story of what happens when someone with a boatload of money gets a hair-brained idea: they can fund their outlandish dream but have no idea how to actually accomplish it. Henry Ford found success with his motor company and felt that this same success would translate well in a foreign country he knew little to nothing about. (After all, he had lots of advisers for that.) Suffice it to say, Ford started out with good intentions. He needed a new place to grow high quality rubber but that project quickly morphed and ended up growing into the more ambition dream of creating a civilized utopia in the wilds of an Amazonian jungle. Other well known companies set up the essentials of home away from home in places like Cuba and Mexico, but Ford wanted to create a brand new society. He envisioned shopping centers, ice cream parlors, sidewalks for the civilized townspeople to stroll upon, electricity, running water...all the comforts of middle America in a remote riverside section of Brazil. It's ironic that Ford felt he was rescuing a vision of Americana so far from "home." Of course, these visions were bound to fail. Ford ran into obstacles practically every step of the way. Clearing the land of massive tangle of jungle and vines wasn't as easy as any of his advisors thought it would be. Engineers didn't properly grade the roads causing washouts every time it rained....in a rainforest. The humidity would rust saw blades faster than the men could wear them out on the difficult bark of foreign trees. Keeping skilled labor on the job proved to be just as difficult. Diseases unfamiliar to mid westerners plagued the workforce. Prohibition wasn't law in Brazil so those men who didn't quit were often drunk thanks to rum boats moored on the river. Then there were the insects that plagued the crops. The list goes on. As you can imagine, all of this would lead to a breakdown. Of course this story can't have a happy ending, but it is fascinating all the same.
  • Evaluare: 3 din 5 stele
    3/5
    I've been slogging my way through FORDLANDIA for close to a month now, a little at a time. I've read over 250 pages now and have finally decided enough is enough. I'm just not enjoying this book enough to finish it. It feels like "assigned reading" or homework. The idea of the book, Hentry Ford's harebrained scheme to build a Norman Rockwell kind of city in the middle of the Amazon jungle and set up a rubber plantation, sounded really interesting. In its execution, however, it is simply not very interesting. Too much like reading a history book. And you know from the outset his plan did not succeed, so ... While it is patently obvious that author Greg Grandin has done beaucoups research and is a more than decent writer, the book has a very sluggish forward momentum, when it moves forward at all. There are certainly some interesting elements here, anecdotes and thumbnail histories from the Great Depression, Ford's early life and his rise to become the world's richest man. The fact that he was an anti-Semite becomes clear, which doesn't make him a very likeable 'protagonist.' His union-busting with hired thugs doesn't help much either. And none of the secondary figures here are particularly likeable either. I think my interest first began to wane very early, with the statement, "Henry Ford didn't much like to read." Ford said it was like "a dope habit." He also said, "Book-sickness is a modern ailment." There are indications in the text that Ford, while probably not illiterate, may well have been dyslexic, several decades before a name had been put to that particular learning disability. There were some interesting revelations about the villages Ford had built in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to harvest its lumber and ore for his factories. But the guy sounded like a real dictator the way he expected the village's inhabitants to abide by his own eccentric rules and regulations.Sorry, Henry, but I just didn't like you enough to waste any more time on a story of an ill-devised dream doomed to failure. I'll give it two and a half stars and say good-bye and good riddance.
  • Evaluare: 3 din 5 stele
    3/5
    Ironic tragedy of Shakespearean proportion. A slow motion train wreck; schizophrenic american hubris run absolutely amok. Steeped in nostalgic good intentions, Ford arbitrarily imposed his will on a region and people he not only never understood, but never even saw face to face with predictably disastrous results. Any short-lived contributions to the health and prosperity of the area are far outweighed by the continuing and accelerated destruction unleashed by the project. One of the most sobering and depressing books I've ever read.
  • Evaluare: 4 din 5 stele
    4/5
    The book is as much about Ford the man, an individual of extraordinary and frequently disturbing contributions, as it is about his bizarre quest to create a Utopian rubber-producing empire in the Amazon jungle. Quite a fascinating story.
  • Evaluare: 3 din 5 stele
    3/5
    The first half builds up something the second half can't quite deliver. You know the premise is something that, historically, can't succeed, but so much effort goes into establishing it (both the history and narrative) that the resolution isn't all that satisfying. Short version: Henry Ford uses his might to build a rubber plantation in the Amazon. Jungle fights back. People fight back. World economic and political chaos interfere. Everything's crazy. Henry Ford is a strange and quixotic character. The end.
  • Evaluare: 3 din 5 stele
    3/5
    Ford was the god of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, which I just finished, so this seemed like a good way to learn more about the context of Huxley's book. And it was, but it's about 100 pages too long. Much of the information is repeated; the story of the genesis of the town of Alberta, for instance, pops up almost twice, a couple hundred pages apart. And Bennett is described at least three times. So...an editor and some tightening would have done wonders here.

  • Evaluare: 4 din 5 stele
    4/5
    The story of Henry Ford's ill fated attempt to raise a rubber plantation and a model American town, on the Tapajos River in Amazonia. And at the same time, the story of Ford's own descent into eccentricity. Many biographers fall in love or admiration with their subjects, but not Grandin; he is merciless on the hubris, nostalgia for an America that probably never really existed, anti semitism, anti unionism and general misplaced paternalism of the older Ford, not to mention his atrocious treatment of his son Edsel. Fordlandia was an ill conceived idea to begin with, made worse by the shower of feckless incompetents sent to build and run it - few emerge with any credit. So badly managed was the whole project that it seems remarkable that this is the same man, and the company, that invented modern industrial production.A fascinating book on a subject I knew nothing about
  • Evaluare: 4 din 5 stele
    4/5
    Henry Ford's ambition was pretty much boundless, matched only by his idealism. The man was convinced that the assembly line technique could be applied to anything. This book chronicles his ill-fated attempt to create a rubber plantation in Brazil long after the focus of latex harvesting had moved from that region to the Far East.Not only did he want to farm rubber plants, he was determined to recreate small town semi-rural America in the heart of the Amazon. And in his typical bull-headed way, his people would figure it all out for themselves. No need to consult experts in the field of latex production.He spend a couple of million dollars in the late 1920's and early 2930's on this ill-conceived notion. Today, many of the homes he built in Fordlandia (the name of the settlement he created) still stand and are occupied. But the sawmill has been abandoned for many decades, and the Ford name has worn off the unused water tower.A really interesting read.
  • Evaluare: 5 din 5 stele
    5/5
    This is an outstanding social history of two very different cultures, the United States and Brazil. In the late 1920's, the American industiralist, Henry Ford, attempts to revive the Brazilian rubber industry by creating an "American" town with white picket fences along the banks of the Amazon River. It's man versus nature. Guess who wins? The struggles of the people hired by Ford to create the town are immense and impressive. The author ends the book with some observations about our destruction of the environment that are well worht reading.
  • Evaluare: 4 din 5 stele
    4/5
    Some of the facts about Fordlandia are pretty interesting. It was a huge plantation (the size of Connecticut) on the Tapajos River in the Amazon jungle that Henry Ford started to build in 1928 to provide a source of rubber for the Ford Motor Company. It was so remote that even today it takes 18 hours by riverboat to get there from the nearest provincial city. In 1934, when the rubber trees refused "to submit to Ford-style regimentation" and succumbed to leaf blight, Ford's response was to build another plantation downstream, called Belterra, and start over. Even though Belterra was slightly more successful, Ford was ultimately forced to sell it, along with Fordlandia, to the Brazilian government in 1945 for $244,200 (for a loss of over $20 million). What was even more fascinating than Fordlandia, however, was Henry Ford. He wasn't just interested in cultivating rubber "but the rubber gatherers as well." He was in his sixties when he founded Fordlandia and believed something had gone wrong with America. His goal was to recreate the American Midwest in the Amazon. "Ford saw the jungle as a challenge, but it had less to do with overcoming and dominating nature than it did with salvaging a vision of Americana that was slipping out of his grasp at home." The two "American" towns that Ford created in the Amazon had central squares, sidewalks, indoor plumbing, hospitals, manicured lawns, movie theaters, swimming pools and golf courses. Ford even attempted to enforce U.S. Prohibition laws in his Amazon properties. Ford didn't believe in expert advice and never visited Fordlandia or Belterra. His belief that "he could make the world conform to his will was founded on a faith that success in economic matters should, by extension, allow capitalists to try their hands with equal success at every other occupation." He thought that the American way of life could be easily transported to the Amazon and would be eagerly welcomed by the Brazilians. He was wrong and, as the Washington Post noted in 1922, Ford's "efforts (generally were) conceived in disregard or ignorance of Ford's limitations." Today, Fordlandia has mostly been abandoned and Belterra has been turned into a tourist attraction. This book started off being fascinating to me, especially the history of cultivating rubber and Ford's reasons for creating Fordlandia, but by the time it got into the efforts to build the plantation and produce the rubber, it became less compelling and as a result it took me a month to complete. I think it was partly because the whole process was so mismanaged that it became frustrating to read about. The book is very well-written, with lots of photographs, but mostly what I wanted to do while reading it was go find a great biography of Henry Ford. All in all, this was a 3 1/2 star book for me and one I would guardedly recommend (to use Stasia's phrase).
  • Evaluare: 5 din 5 stele
    5/5
    FordLandia is a well-researched historical account of auto magnate Henry Ford's folly to build a rubber-producing factory town in an uninhabited parcel of land in upper reaches of the Amazon River. Every step of the misadventure is chronicled, and it reads more like an industrial-intrigue thriller than a historical tome. The reader knows that things are going to end very badly for FordLandia; but Grandin writes in such compelling detail about the innumerable stupid decisions that were made by all involved that most will want to find out exactly how badly things will wind up. Grandin handles this with compassion and balance; the book never veers in the direction of ridicule, and only skirts the edges of dark humor enough to keep it interesting.
  • Evaluare: 5 din 5 stele
    5/5
    The book illustrates the definition of both hubris and also America's short-sighted sensibilities in international relations. In 1929, Henry Ford, hoping to increase the vertical integration of his automobile company and to free himself from dependency on the British rubber monopoly in Southeast Asia, decided to start a rubber plantation in the Amazon rain forest in Brazil. A secondary goal of this venture was to bring the "civilizing benefits of America" to the indigenous population of the Amazon jungle. In his usual manner he went about this without the beneift of any expert advice, plowing ahead in what can only be termed a boneheaded manner, firm in the opinion that his instincts were correct.This story of the crash of Ford's utopian dream makes for fascinating reading and also provides a cautionary tale for today's incursions into state building by the United States.
  • Evaluare: 5 din 5 stele
    5/5
    I liked this book a lot. An amazing tale of hubris. Only a few minor quibbles: the chronology is a bit muddled as it jumps around telling the story, and the ending is a bit weak. Overall definitely recommended. Fascinating to read about Ford, his key managers, and their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Evaluare: 5 din 5 stele
    5/5
    Fordlandia:The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City provides an in depth look at one of America's great men. It chronicles his successes and in this case failures. It's not in a man's successes that help you really see the true character of a person. It's in the failures; the trials, struggles and how you persevere. Greg Grandin provides us just such a view of Henry Ford, American manufacturing giant. He's at the peak of his successes. His cars are revolutionizing how America travels. His innovative assembly line and social experiments to help his employees get the most out of life are ahead of their time. Ford proposes to construct a model American community at Muscle Shoals, along the Tennessee River in northwestern Alabama. His proposal is rebuffed by the government, leaving Ford to search for other options. Strangely, almost the same proposal becomes the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency.Ford then acquires control of a large portion of land in Brazil's Amazon jungle totaling 5,625 square miles. He plans to 'farm' raw rubber, latex, by using modern techniques, reinvigorating the former booming Brazilian rubber market. But what worked in America does not transfer successfully. Rubber trees that grew in the wilds of the jungle, face problems from insects and disease when farmed. Not to mention that Ford's social experiments that worked in America proved detrimental in Brazil. Rather than adapt to the conditions and people of the region, he tried blindly to impose his will on them. Of course the results were less than hoped for. If ever there was a recipe for disaster, it was here.Worse still, Ford didn't learn from his early troubles. By continually trying to mold Fordlandia in his own vision he lost many lives along with millions of dollars in cash and materials. Greg Grandin's meticulously researched chronicle allows us a window into the events as they happen. This book provides a remarkable historical record of a forgotten period of history and the heights of one man's folly.
  • Evaluare: 5 din 5 stele
    5/5
    Hubris, Arrogance, Bad LuckIn this fine example of history done right, Greg Grandin blends the writer's touch with the academic's rigor to produce a fantastic story about Henry Ford's own "Heart of Darkness" adventure in the Amazon jungle that had such high hopes but ended in an utter and drastic failure.The book is primarily focused on Ford's desires on making his own rubber and transplanting his own utopian version of American life in the jungle. In my opinion, this was a good decision by Grandin, as the book would have become bloated had he included too much background information on Ford, fordism, and his many domestic ventures.Fundamental to understanding the thinking behind "Fordlandia" is the progressive humanism of Ford and others who believed in their civilizing mission in uplifting the destitute through technology and innovation (ie. modernization ideology). Here, Grandin does a great job outlining how Ford had tried to do this in the Southern U.S. with the Muscle Shoals proposal which eventually FDR took up in the massive TVA electrification project.Ultimately, Grandin argues that Fordlandia represented a "crystalline form of the utopianism that powered Fordism -- and by extension Americanism. It reveals the faith that a drive toward greater efficiency could be controlled and managed in such a way as to bring balance to the world and that technology itself, without the need for government planning, could sove whatever social problems arose from progress's advance." Grandin further concludes that the parable of Fordlandia is not just one of arrogance in that Ford thought he could tame the Amazon but but arrogance in that he believed that the forces of capitalism, once released, could still be contained.In my own opinion, I think Grandin slightly overanalyzes. If it were not for a persistent fungus, and devastating bug infestations, Fordlandia could have actually survived. Luck had as much to do with the cascading failures as did any of Ford's perceived miscalcuations.In comparing the texts "Fordlandia" with the similar-themed "The Thief at the End of the World" I would say that Grandin does a better job with the overall historical context, while Jackson is mostly interested in the biography of Wickham. Both are a fascinating exploration into the successes and failures of man's attempts to tame nature. This is a popular history book that should appeal to both the academics and the greater audience at large.