Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress, 1903-2003
Few endeavors in history can match Ford Motor Company's impact on human civilization. Launched a century ago by a bumptious squad of clever eccentrics-led by the odd visionary mechanic Henry Ford-the first mass-production auto manufacturer would push the rest of the industrialized world into the modern age. Along with other social upheavals, Ford's reasonably priced and well-made assembly-line Model T would mobilize America's middle class while the company's cleverly generous "$5 Day" did no less than redefine industrial labor relations. In Wheels for the World , Douglas Brinkley, one of our most engaging historians, reveals the riveting details of Ford Motor Company's epic achievements, chronicling the outlandish success of the Tin Lizzie to the beloved Model A through the glory days of the Thunderbird, Mustang, and Taurus, as well as the revolutionary plants where they were built-Highland Park and River Rouge. Brinkley tells of the amazing acquisitions of Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar, and Mazda in the 1990s. His narrative also explores Ford Motor Company's darker aspects, from its founder's anti-Semitism, ill-considered wartime pacifism, and disloyalty-not only to the cohorts who made him the richest man of his time but also to his only son. Along the way, Brinkley introduces us to the whole cast of colorful characters-from the irascible early brains of the outfit, later U.S. Senator James Couzens; to feisty Me-Decade CEO Lee Iacocca to the earnest young chairman and CEO of today, William Clay Ford, Jr.-whose dedication and vision have created a lustrous legacy around the world. What distinguishes Wheels for the World is not only the freshness of the fascinating new material that Brinkley has uncovered, but also the sweep of his story and the compelling clarity of his prose. In his many previous books, Brinkley has proven himself a master at crafting brilliant, accessible historical narratives and this is his finest achievement yet.