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

ISBN: 9780312429621 | 0312429622
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Picador
Pub. Date: 4/27/2010

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Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award - A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year - A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year - A Boston Globe Best Book of the Year. 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. Fordlandia, as the settlement was called, soon became the site of an epic clash. On one side was the lean, austere car magnate; on the other, the Amazon, the most complex ecological system on the planet. Indigenous workers rejected Ford's midwestern Puritanism, turning the place into a ribald tropical boomtown. And his efforts to apply a system of regimented mass production to the Amazon's diversity resulted in a rash environmental assault that foreshadowed many of the threats laying waste to the rain forest today. More than a parable of one man's arrogant attempt to force his will on the natural world, Greg Grandin's Fordlandia is "a quintessentially American fable" (Time).Greg Grandin is the author of Empire's Workshop, The Last Colonial Massacre, and the award-winning The Blood of Guatemala. An associate professor of Latin American history at New York University, and a Guggenheim fellow, Grandin has served on the United Nations Truth Commission investigating the Guatemalan Civil War and has written for the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The New Statesman, and The New York Times. A National Book Award Finalist A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist 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, Fordlandiade picts a quixotic mission to recreate the small-town America that the Ford factory system did much to dispatch. As Greg Grandin shows in this 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. Magic happens when a gifted historian and master storyteller finds a treasure trove of untapped materials to exploit. And Greg Grandin's book on Fordlandia is simply magical. Here is the truly epic tale of American adventurers dispatched by Henry Ford in 1928 to conquer and civilize the Amazon by constructing an industrial/agricultural utopia the size of Tennessee. Among the dozens of reasons I will be recommending Fordlandia to friends, family, colleagues, and students is the scale and pace of the narrative, the remarkable cast of characters, the brilliantly detailed descriptions of the Brazilian jungle, and what may be the best portrait we have of Henry Ford in his final years as he struggles to recapture.


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