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Electric City: The Lost History of Ford and Edison's American Utopia

Electric City: The Lost History of Ford and Edison's American Utopia

by Thomas Hager
Electric City: The Lost History of Ford and Edison's American Utopia

Electric City: The Lost History of Ford and Edison's American Utopia

by Thomas Hager


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The extraordinary, unknown story of two giants of American history—Henry Ford and Thomas Edison—and their attempt to create an electric-powered city of tomorrow on the Tennessee River

During the roaring twenties, two of the most revered and influential men in American business proposed to transform one of the country’s poorest regions into a dream technological metropolis, a shining paradise of small farms, giant factories, and sparkling laboratories. Henry Ford and Thomas Edison’s “Detroit of the South” would be ten times the size of Manhattan, powered by renewable energy, and free of air pollution. And it would reshape American society, introducing mass commuting by car, use a new kind of currency called “energy dollars,” and have the added benefit (from Ford and Edison's view) of crippling the growth of socialism.
The whole audacious scheme almost came off, with Southerners rallying to support what became known as the Ford Plan. But while some saw it as a way to conjure the future and reinvent the South, others saw it as one of the biggest land swindles of all time. They were all true.
Electric City is a rich chronicle of the time and the social backdrop, and offers a fresh look at the lives of the two men who almost saw the project to fruition, the forces that came to oppose them, and what rose in its stead: a new kind of public corporation called the Tennessee Valley Authority, one of the greatest achievements of the New Deal. This is a history for a wide audience, including readers interested in American history, technology, politics, and the future.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781419752988
Publisher: Abrams Press
Publication date: 05/10/2022
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 483,368
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Thomas Hager is an award-winning author of books on the history of science and medicine, including The Alchemy of Air and Ten Drugs: How Plants, Powders and Pills Have Shaped the History of Medicine. He is a courtesy associate professor of journalism and communication at the University of Oregon.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I Muscle Shoals

Chapter 1 Where the River Sings 11

Chapter 2 The Wonder City at War 31

Chapter 3 Uncle Henry 47

Chapter 4 $8 a Second 65

Chapter 5 Camping with the President 77

Chapter 6 Politics and Public Relations 91

Chapter 7 The Twin Wizards 105

Chapter 8 Roadblock 121

Chapter 9 President Henry Ford 131

Part II Boomtown

Chapter 10 Swampland and Whiskey 143

Chapter 11 A Party of One 149

Chapter 12 The 75-Mile City 167

Chapter 13 Gutters of Political Filth 177

Chapter 14 The Last Meeting 185

Chapter 15 Scandal 195


Chapter 16 The Alabama Ghost 209

Chapter 17 A New Deal 219

Chapter 18 "I'm Goin' to Die for the Government" 229

Chapter 19 Electric Nation 241

Chapter 20 A Sign in the Sky 251

Epilogue 267

Source Notes 273

Sources 283

Acknowledgments 289

Index 291

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