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

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

3.5 28
by Greg Grandin
     
 

ISBN-10: 0805082360

ISBN-13: 9780805082364

Pub. Date: 06/09/2009

Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.

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

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Overview

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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805082364
Publisher:
Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
06/09/2009
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.70(h) x 1.49(d)

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Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
PorcupineWA More than 1 year ago
The book was as good as I hoped. The delivery was (unlike more recently) smooth and flawless.
PasadenaLawyer More than 1 year ago
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.
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cannonball More than 1 year ago
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.
iluvvideo More than 1 year ago
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.
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