Fordlandia : The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City Paperback
by Greg Grandin
In 1927, Henry Ford, the founder of the famous motor company and the richest man in the world, bought a 5,000 square mile-tract of land in the Brazilian Amazon.
There he was going to build a rubber plantation. To the unkempt rainforest he would bring the principles of mass production - order, efficiency and productivity.
He would harness the river itself in order to transplant capitalist civilisation to the dark heart of the jungle.
But Ford wanted more than just rubber. Across the United States, small-town America was giving way to growing cities, consumerism and crass, brash new society.
Ford wanted to create in the Amazon an America in his own image - Fordlandia, full of neat houses, straight roads and restrained Puritanism.
By 1945 it was abandoned in ruins. "Fordlandia" is the powerful, never-before-told fable of the pride and arrogance of the man who thought he alone could tame the Amazon. Filled with clash and contradiction, it is the battle between industrialised capitalism and the raw power of nature; it is the struggle too within Ford himself, the man who despised the new America that he himself had set in motion, who spent twenty years and several fortunes on his Amazonian dream, yet never set foot inside it.
Superbly researched and grippingly told, Greg Grandin gives us a portrait of a man suffering under the grand delusion that the forces of capitalism, once released, might then be contained.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 432 pages, illustrations
- Publisher: Icon Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 07/10/2010
- Category: History of the Americas
- ISBN: 9781848311541
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Review by Opinionated
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