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

Book - 2009 | 1st ed
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The stunning, never before told story of the quixotic attempt to recreate small-town America in the heart of the Amazon

In 1927, Henry Ford, the richest man in the world, bought a tract of land twice the size of Delaware in the Brazilian Amazon. His intention was to grow rubber, but the project rapidly evolved into a more ambitious bid to export America itself, along with its golf courses, ice-cream shops, bandstands, indoor plumbing, and Model Ts rolling down broad streets.

Fordlandia, as the settlement was called, quickly became the site of an epic clash. On one side was the car magnate, lean, austere, the man who reduced industrial production to its simplest motions; on the other, the Amazon, lush, extravagant, the most complex ecological system on the planet. Ford's early success in imposing time clocks and square dances on the jungle soon collapsed, as indigenous workers, rejecting his midwestern Puritanism, turned the place into a ribald tropical boomtown.Fordlandia's eventual demise as a rubber plantation foreshadowed the practices that today are laying waste to the rain forest.

More than a parable of one man's arrogant attempt to force his will on the natural world, Fordlandia depicts a desperate quest to salvage the bygone America that the Ford factory system did much to dispatch. As Greg Grandin shows in this gripping and mordantly observed history, Ford's great delusion was not that the Amazon could be tamed but that the forces of capitalism, once released, might yet be contained.
Fordlandia is a 2009 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.

Publisher: New York : Metropolitan Books, c2009
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780805082364
Branch Call Number: 307.768 GRA 2009
Characteristics: xii, 416 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm


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Mar 14, 2016

Henry Ford pioneered the use of industrial management in his car manufacturing facilities in Michigan. But when he tried to use the same methodology in a rubber plantation in the Amazon he almost lost everything. Fordlandia explains in all and reveals what many have suspected or kn own about for the past hundred years. Henry Ford was not a very nice guy.
Plus in his later years he was a fascist sympathizer and probably nuts.

thart Jun 23, 2013

Read for the fiction book club "Bookies" at CLPL for June 2013, but this is a non-fiction selection.

Although the actual events of what happened in the Amazonian jungle with Henry Ford creating "Fordlandia" was interesting, I did not like the book. It was dry, extremely repetitive, and could have been accomplished in fewer pages. It made for an O.K. discussion, with us talking about how inept the Ford men in the jungle were, the arrogance of imposing "Americanism" on different cultures, and why people blame Henry Ford for making America into a fast-paced consumer culture.

The beginning of the book is kind to Henry Ford and praises his inventiveness and determination to pay his workers good wages, but probably only as a means to sucker people into reading the rest of it (that is what one woman in our book club thought, and I probably have to agree with her). The middle is terribly repetitive and dry, with the author rarely telling you what year it is while simultaneously jumping around in time. This makes it confusing to know what happened in what order, since it is not chronological at all, and also makes it seem like they were in the Amazon for decades when they were only there a handful of years. The end concentrates on the author blaming Henry Ford for everything bad that has ever happened with consumer culture for the last eighty years because of his interest in trees, soybeans, and assembly-line production.

My advice would be to look up this information somewhere else and save yourself about sixteen hours of reading severely dry and repetitive text. I really had to force myself to finish this one, I was tempted many times to put it down and walk away from it forever. I only finished it because it was for book club and that is saying quite a bit, I always finish books I have started, no matter what.

Apr 08, 2013

This book is as much or more about the amazing character of the American industrialist Henry Ford than the carving of a rubber plantation out of the Amazonian jungle. Ford was a man ahead of his time on racial integration, the environment, and small community economic development. On the other hand, he was anti-Semitic, had pro-fascist sympathies, and bullied to death his son Edsel. The author concludes with a chapter on lessons learned from Fordlandia that are relevant to the deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and urbanization of the Amazon basin today. The book is generously illustrated with photographs; and provides endnotes.

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