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Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City (edition 2010)

by Greg Grandin

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Member:davidnacol
Title:Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City
Authors:Greg Grandin
Info:Picador (2010), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 432 pages
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Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin

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First off, I did not realize Aldous Huxley's Brave New World was a response to Fordism (I know, I struggle), nor did I realize Ford was so... paternalistic (it's all coming together now!). Details the acquisition of a large land area in the Brazilian Amazon by Ford with the initial intent to establish a rubber plantation. The mission eventually morphs into founding a mid-western town (in the jungle) based upon Ford's take on the wholesome American values that were quickly becoming outdated in the states. Both failed spectacularly. Crazy interesting read on the abundant shenanigans in the jungle (by shenanigans I mean mismanagement and misery) and the cultural upheaval going on back home with workers demanding the right to organize and collectively bargain. As ridiculous as his rigidity appears in some cases, in others it's rather admirable. Mayhem at its finest. Anyone interested in a trip up the Tapajós? ( )
  dandelionroots | Jan 31, 2016 |
Before this book, I hadn't read any nonfiction for a long time. It really struck me how many different aspects of history, culture, and economics were tied into the story of Fordlandia. One of the main reasons I picked this up was because I had just finished rereading Brave New World, and its emphasis on Fordism made me want to learn more on the subject. ( )
  lorienanderson | Jun 19, 2015 |
I wanted to like this. But I got almost 1/4 of the way through and we were still negotiating - no, talking about the negotiations - for the purchase of land in the Amazon. I kept waiting for the title to be relevant. Just too dry, too much distance from the action. These people were flesh & blood, with fears & passions etc, but I never believed it.
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Henry Ford build a rubber plantation and community in the Amazon. He wanted to be in total control of all aspects of life there--even though he never visited it. He made his managers who oversaw the settlement abide by his rules. He had rules like: only brown rice is to be served in the cafeteria. (Because he thought it was healthier, never mind what the native people actually wanted. He was trying to build a replica of his version of an efficient, clean, moral American community and workplace in the middle of a jungle where the workers where native tribesman who had never used clocks before. And who rioted at one point, smashing the time clocks he had installed. This story, and Ford, can be facinating but this book went into way too much detail about every single thing and it became a tedious read. We read and discussed it in book group and all the members thought the same thing. Fans of detailed examinations of one aspect of history--this is the book for you. ( )
1 vote debs4jc | Dec 2, 2014 |
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. ( )
  autumnturner76 | Sep 22, 2014 |
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Epigraph
Why, though, did we need a Mahagonny?
Because the world is a foul one.
-BERTOLT BRECHT
The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny
Dedication
To Emilia Viotti da Costa
First words
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 family
employed in the rubber trade
Ford executives on the
deck of The Ormoc en
route to the Amazon


Workers clearing the rainforest
before construction can begin
Mundurucú mission children
with German nuns
A Lincoln Zephyr stuck
in Fordlandia mud

Fordlandia's Riverside Avenue
near the Tapajós River
Ruins of Fordlandia's powerhouse
Ruins of the sawmill
at Iron Mountain

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:06 -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.

(summary from another edition)

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