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The Reckoning by David Halberstam

The Reckoning (original 1986; edition 1986)

by David Halberstam

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459422,646 (4.27)13
Title:The Reckoning
Authors:David Halberstam
Info:William Morrow & Co (1986), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 752 pages
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The Reckoning by David Halberstam (1986)



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Showing 4 of 4
  ChrisPisarczyk | Mar 17, 2016 |
This was a very interesting book, most especially because I read it 14 years after its publication. The author, completing this before the internet was even a blip in everyday consciousness, based his conclusions on a "pre-net" analysis. Concerned with industry, and unaware of the computer revolution only then beginning, this book is an artifact of its time, only 14 years after publication.
It was a very interesting read, particularly because of the mini-biographies it contains. Well-written, but a bit light. Fascinating however, as a record of the state of thinking about economics at the time, and some nicely done summation of the history of post-war Japan. ( )
  Kathleen828 | May 9, 2015 |
David Halberstam wrote The Reckoning in 1986 to explore a simple question – why was an industry as strong and storied as the American car industry brought to its knees by competition from far less experienced Japanese upstarts?

I read The Reckoning in 2013. As a fan of David Halberstam, I knew to expect strong writing and narrative, but I wondered how relevant I would find this history, given that close to 30 years had elapsed since its publication. Would it be filled with predictions of Japanese world domination and paeans to the cultural superiority of the Japanese?

Anything but. The Reckoning’s relevance today is almost haunting – the discussions of topics such as Detroit’s addiction to large automobiles, the pressure to underinvest to meet Wall Street expectations, and the relationship between government and industry could have been written during the most recent crisis in 2008-2009. Prescient for 1986, a chapter near the end explores whether political forces at home might stifle Japan’s further economic expansion.

The Reckoning is also a good history, using two companies, Nissan and Ford, to illustrate the general trajectory of the industry. Halberstam explores both companies’ histories in detail (my paperback version is 750 pages long), giving the reader an understanding of what forces drove the actions of each company, as well as anecdotes and personal histories that bring the stories alive, such as the head of Nissan’s western U.S. division prying the “Fair Lady” label off their first entry into the sports car market in 1970 (he replaced it with their internal designation, the 240Z).

While some of the content in “The Reckoning” may be of less interest now than it was to the 1986 audience – we are probably less interested in the power struggle between Lee Iacocca and Henry Ford, for example - “The Reckoning” still provides today’s readers plenty of lessons about corporate and national competitiveness. ( )
  as85 | Jan 29, 2014 |
As the US watches the CEOs of it three major auto manufacturers now in December 2008 it is truly shocking how this book, written over 20 years ago is so "right on" right how. Halberstam starts his book with predictions about limited oil and moves through describing the auto industry's mistakes, focusing on Ford. Halberstam was a real Cassandar.

Here is another Amazon review that agrees with me

Now, updating this July 2009. After watching the meltdown of Chrylsler and GM, Hlberstamp's predictions become even more ironic. He was so right.

As always with David Halberstam, this book is a monument to relentless reporting - he must surely be the most energetic reporter of our times. It presents vivid pictures of the insides of Ford and Nissan, with an eye toward developing his main theme: that America really blew it, that the Japanese are gonna take over, that the American economy is going down the tubes. Too bad that entire theme is ridiculously wrong. The book came out in 1986, just as the American economy was gearing up to reinvent itself, as it had many times before, and as it will many times again. As a history of the car industry, the book is dandy; as another of Halberstam's attempts to explain the world, it's an exercise in hubris.
1 vote carterchristian1 | Dec 9, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Halberstamprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gatti, DavidCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Compares and contrasts two companies, Ford and Nissan, from the founders and owners right down to the men on the assembly line.

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