How a Michigan farm boy became the richest man in America is a classic, almost mythic tale, but never before has Henry Ford’s outsized genius been brought to life so vividly as it is in this engaging and superbly researched biography.
The real Henry Ford was a tangle of contradictions. He set off the consumer revolution by producing a car affordable to the masses, all the while lamenting the moral toll exacted by consumerism. He believed in giving his workers a living wage, though he was entirely opposed to union labor. He had a warm and loving relationship with his wife, but sired a son with another woman. A rabid anti-Semite, he nonetheless embraced African American workers in the era of Jim Crow.
Uncovering the man behind the myth, situating his achievements and their attendant controversies firmly within the context of early twentieth-century America, Watts has given us a comprehensive, illuminating, and fascinating biography of one of America’s first mass-culture celebrities.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: The People's Tycoon|
|Release Date: 03-04-2009|
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|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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The People's Tycoon
By the early 1920s, Henry Ford may have been the most famous man in the world. His inexpensive, durable, and perky Model T had taken America by storm, and the pioneering industrialist had garnered enormous fame and wealth. The Ford visage seemed to appear everywhere, constantly. A torrent of interviews, newspaper stories, publicity handouts, advertisements, and popular biographies flooded into the public realm, carrying details of his life story and his comments on every imaginable topic. Often based on interviews with him, or legendary tales, these pieces told the story of Ford's life as he wanted it to be told.
They poured the events of Henry Ford's life into the mold of the American success story. This hoary genre dated back to Benjamin Franklin and his autobiography of the penniless, bright, and determined youth who had walked into colonial Philadelphia munching on bread rolls as the first step in his meteoric rise to distinction. Horatio Alger had updated it for the nineteenth century with popular novels such as Struggling Upward and Mark the Match Boy.
Now Ford sought to place himself squarely within this American mythology. His version of his life story could have been lifted from any one of Alger's cookie-cutter plots: the young man pursues his dream while others scoff, he undertakes a lonely journey from the country to the city in search of fulfillment, overcomes obstacles with a combination of pluck, determination, and talent, and finally rises to heights of achievement and prosperity. The Ford success story contained an additional element-the youthful hero had a stern father who was skeptical of the son's newfang