Customer Reviews for

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

Average Rating 3.5
( 30 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted September 28, 2011

    Fascinating perspective on the strengths and foibles of American certainty

    The book was as good as I hoped. The delivery was (unlike more recently) smooth and flawless.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting chapter in social and industrial history

    This tells the story of Henry Ford's ultimately unsuccessful attempt to manufacture rubber for the tires of his cars in the Amazon basin in Brazil. Grandin paints a revealing picture of Ford himself, the times he lived in, and the historical figures he interacted with.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Idealism Gone Wrong

    I really enjoyed this tale of utopia gone wrong. It's amazing how smart people can be so dumb. The author clearly dissects Ford's idealism with all its contradictions and explains how someone who so wanted to do good ended up creating a monster instead.

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  • Posted August 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Very interesting

    An interesting book about probably one of the least understood parts of the world. Also an enlightening story about Henry Ford's America and his view of what a corporation's role in the life of its employees shoudl be. It was amazing to read of the paternalistic approach to his employees and his teams attempt to bring that paternalism to the jungles of Brazil!

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    A model "C" rolls off the publishers' assembly line

    Raised in the Motor City and sensitive to the environmental degradation wrought by Ford's manufacturing labyrinth at River Rouge, I bought the book with the greatest anticipation and hoped to be treated to new insights into the psyche of Henry Ford and his Brazilian fiasco. Instead I felt cheated. A large segment of Grandin's work dealt with Henry's life experiences outside the context of Fordlandia, relying on facts found essentially in secondary sources. My criticism has less to do with his assertion of management's ignorance and insensitivity to social and environmental issues as it did how he sparingly used primary evidence to even remotely draw Henry into the Brazilian narrative.

    Thus I came away thinking that to Henry the Fordlandia project was just another one of many minor league affairs for which he had to contend, not exactly a pressing utopian passion as Grandin seems to suggest, like, let's say, Mussolini's African imperial escapades which portended his larger world view. Simply put, it's like blaming Tiger's manager, Sparky Anderson, for a call made in a Toledo Mud Hen's game. Clearly with all of the pressing business in the Big Leagues can we really expect Sparky to be up on the 'play by play' in one of his team's many affiliates? After all, have not corporate ambitions to gain global hegemony over third world raw materials significantly predated the Fordlandia experiment? United Fruit Company is a case in point and makes Henry's Brazil escapades look like the doings of an 'eagle scout'; for it can be said the FMC model brought in hospitals, roads, schools, and other infrastructure improvements---not exactly an accepted standard for corporations at that time.


    Nevertheless, as has been well documented in earlier studies, Henry's brand of paternalistic progressivism vastly overshadowed an unrelenting dark side, best personified in his lackey, Harry Bennet, whose fascistic tactics worked to intimidate workers and destroy the emerging democratic unions. A salient feature of the work was the way Grandin documented Ford Motor Company's initial ignorance of the genetic history of rubber trees and its susceptibility to disease. But much of the Brazilian dialogue took on a somewhat irrelevant flair, where middle management's petty jealousies reduced the narrative to that of a soap opera. In the end, I never really got to know any of the revolving cast of Andy and Hardy-like characters in this would drama; even more despairingly is the lack of anecdotal detail provided on the individual lives of the Brazilian workers themselves. In the end I felt treated to a skeletal series of assembly line facts which fit nicely into a preconceived model---and that is why I gave the book a 'C'.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted October 27, 2010

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