Fordlandia by Greg Grandin
The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City

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Synopsis

The stunning, never before told story of the quixotic attempt to recreate small-town America in the heart of the Amazon

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, Fordlandia depicts a desperate quest to salvage the bygone America that the Ford factory system did much to dispatch. As Greg Grandin shows in this gripping and 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.

Fordlandia is a 2009 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.
 

About Greg Grandin

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Greg Grandin is the author of Fordlandia, 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.
 
Published June 9, 2009 by Metropolitan Books. 432 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Fordlandia

Publishers Weekly

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Gandin, an NYU professor of Latin American history, offers the thoroughly remarkable story of Henry Ford's attempt, from the 1920s through 1945, to transform part of Brazil's Amazon River

May 04 2009 | Read Full Review of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall...

The New York Times

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A history of Henry Ford’s disastrous attempt to build an ideal American society on an Amazonian rubber plantation.

Jul 19 2009 | Read Full Review of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall...

The Guardian

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Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop Let's go back to ...

Jan 30 2010 | Read Full Review of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall...

The Guardian

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Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop One irate online ...

Mar 21 2010 | Read Full Review of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall...

Publishers Weekly

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Gandin, an NYU professor of Latin American history, offers the thoroughly remarkable story of Henry Ford's attempt, from the 1920s through 1945, to transform part of Brazil's Amazon River basin into a rubber plantation and eponymous American-style company town: Fordlandia.

May 04 2009 | Read Full Review of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall...

BC Books

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He tends to repeat the same information too much, and if I read one more time about Henry Wickham's stealing of rubber tree seeds to create the Southeast Asia rubber industry, my reading was ready to end.

Aug 02 2009 | Read Full Review of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall...

BC Books

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This sounds like an urban legend gone bad (do any go good?), so one needs to read about Henry Ford's attempt to build "the American Dream" in the jungles of Brazil.

Aug 02 2009 | Read Full Review of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall...

Star Tribune

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Henry Ford's attempt to establish a Midwestern-style company town in the jungles of Brazil ultimately failed. Greg Grandin's colorful and fascinating look at his efforts is a wonderful tale, and offers a lesson in arrogance.

Jun 05 2009 | Read Full Review of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall...

The Washington Post

Had Henry Ford stumbled into El Dorado, the Amazon's legendary golden city, he probably wouldn't have had much use for it.

Jul 19 2009 | Read Full Review of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall...

USA Today

In 1927, Henry Ford decided that instead of paying for the rubber he needed for his cars, he'd grow it.

Jul 28 2016 | Read Full Review of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall...

Oregon Live

Greg Grandin's fascinating "Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City" recounts the fateful decision of America's prophet of modernity -- the "Jesus Christ of industry," exulted one Brazilian writer -- to raise his own rubber trees in a Ford company town on the Amazon.

Jul 30 2009 | Read Full Review of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall...

Tampa Bay Times

"But throughout the late 1920s and 1930s, as his village industry projects became less a realistic remedy for the dislocations of boom-and-bust capitalism and more a symptom of his intensifying obsessions, he did exactly 'that sort of thing,' " writes Grandin, "in the Upper Peninsula with his log...

Jul 17 2009 | Read Full Review of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall...

London Review of Books

As the workers waited in the stifling heat, someone shouted: ‘We are not dogs that are going to be ordered by the company to eat in this way.’ One worker took off his company badge and handed it to the American payroll officer who monitored the dining-hall.

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Bookmarks Magazine

Aaron Leitko San Francisco Chronicle 3 of 5 Stars "Grandin's story faces the problem that Henry Ford never visited Fordlandia.

May 24 2009 | Read Full Review of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall...

Literary Review

But Fordlandia soon expanded into a grandiose project to export small-town America itself to the banks of the Amazon - two small towns, in fact, after $20 million had been spent on bungalows, ice cream shops, Model T Fords (of course), bandstands, gardening clubs and even a golf course.

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The Bookbag

Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City is a fascinating story of an extraordinary attempt to impose a vision of the American way of life in the Amazon jungle, written by a professor of Latin American history at New York University.

Mar 22 2010 | Read Full Review of Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall...

Reader Rating for Fordlandia
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