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Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry…

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

by Greg Grandin

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    One River by Wade Davis (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Different facets of the incredible story of rubber and the power of nature.

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Very interesting. I had no idea such settlements had been a popular thing. Definitely something that should be on the must read list for anyone interested in those times. ( )
  AutumnTurner | Dec 29, 2013 |
I've been slogging my way through FORDLANDIA for close to a month now, a little at a time. I've read over 250 pages now and have finally decided enough is enough. I'm just not enjoying this book enough to finish it. It feels like "assigned reading" or homework. The idea of the book, Hentry Ford's harebrained scheme to build a Norman Rockwell kind of city in the middle of the Amazon jungle and set up a rubber plantation, sounded really interesting. In its execution, however, it is simply not very interesting. Too much like reading a history book. And you know from the outset his plan did not succeed, so ... While it is patently obvious that author Greg Grandin has done beaucoups research and is a more than decent writer, the book has a very sluggish forward momentum, when it moves forward at all. There are certainly some interesting elements here, anecdotes and thumbnail histories from the Great Depression, Ford's early life and his rise to become the world's richest man. The fact that he was an anti-Semite becomes clear, which doesn't make him a very likeable 'protagonist.' His union-busting with hired thugs doesn't help much either. And none of the secondary figures here are particularly likeable either. I think my interest first began to wane very early, with the statement, "Henry Ford didn't much like to read." Ford said it was like "a dope habit." He also said, "Book-sickness is a modern ailment." There are indications in the text that Ford, while probably not illiterate, may well have been dyslexic, several decades before a name had been put to that particular learning disability. There were some interesting revelations about the villages Ford had built in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to harvest its lumber and ore for his factories. But the guy sounded like a real dictator the way he expected the village's inhabitants to abide by his own eccentric rules and regulations.

Sorry, Henry, but I just didn't like you enough to waste any more time on a story of an ill-devised dream doomed to failure. I'll give it two and a half stars and say good-bye and good riddance. ( )
  TimBazzett | Jun 14, 2013 |
Ironic tragedy of Shakespearean proportion. A slow motion train wreck; schizophrenic american hubris run absolutely amok.
Steeped in nostalgic good intentions, Ford arbitrarily imposed his will on a region and people he not only never understood, but never even saw face to face with predictably disastrous results. Any short-lived contributions to the health and prosperity of the area are far outweighed by the continuing and accelerated destruction unleashed by the project. One of the most sobering and depressing books I've ever read. ( )
  Pamici | May 18, 2013 |
The book is as much about Ford the man, an individual of extraordinary and frequently disturbing contributions, as it is about his bizarre quest to create a Utopian rubber-producing empire in the Amazon jungle. Quite a fascinating story. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
The first half builds up something the second half can't quite deliver. You know the premise is something that, historically, can't succeed, but so much effort goes into establishing it (both the history and narrative) that the resolution isn't all that satisfying. Short version: Henry Ford uses his might to build a rubber plantation in the Amazon. Jungle fights back. People fight back. World economic and political chaos interfere. Everything's crazy. Henry Ford is a strange and quixotic character. The end. ( )
  bnewcomer | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Why, though, did we need a Mahagonny?
Because the world is a foul one.
The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny
To Emilia Viotti da Costa
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January 9, 1928. Henry Ford was in a spirited mood as he toured the Ford Industrial Exhibit with his son, Edsel, and his aging friend Thomas Edison, feigning fright at the flash of news cameras as a circle of police officers held back admirers and reporters.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805082360, Hardcover)

Amazon Best of the Month, June 2009: Proving that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction, Fordlandia is the story of Henry Ford's ill-advised attempt to transform raw Brazilian rainforest into homespun slices of Americana. With sales of his Model-T booming, the automotive tycoon saw an opportunity to expand his reach further by exploiting a downtrodden Brazilian rubber industry. His vision, the laughably-named Amazonian outpost of Fordlandia, would become an enviable symbol of efficiency and mark the Ford Motor Company as a player on the global stage. Or so he thought. With thoughtful and meticulous research, author Greg Grandin explores the astounding oversights (no botanists were consulted to confirm the colony's agricultural viability) and painful arrogance (little thought was paid to how native Brazilians would react to an American way of life) that hamstrung the project from the start. Instead of ushering in a new era of commerce, Fordlandia became a cautionary tale of a dream destroyed by hubris. --Dave Callanan

Take a Closer Look at Images from Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City

(Click on images to enlarge)
A sketch of the opera house in Manus,Brazil (aka. "the tropical Paris") An Amazonian familyemployed in the rubber trade
Ford executives on the deck of The Ormoc enroute to the Amazon Workers clearing the rainforestbefore construction can begin Mundurucú mission childrenwith German nuns A Lincoln Zephyr stuck in Fordlandia mud Fordlandia's Riverside Avenuenear the Tapajós River Ruins of Fordlandia's powerhouse Ruins of the sawmillat Iron Mountain

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:43 -0400)

The stunning, never-before-told story of the quixotic attempt to recreate small-town America in the heart of the Amazon, "Fordlandia" depicts a desperate quest to salvage the bygone America that the Ford factory system did much to dispatch.

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