Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Book Report

I loved this well written and gripping page turner about the founding of Henry Ford's boondoggle in Brazil.  Mr. Grandin's book tells the tale of how Ford tried to tame the Amazon jungle for profit but ended up with fuck all to show for it.

Frightened that the British were planning to form a rubber cartel, Ford persuaded the government of Brazil to practically give him a huge tract of land the size of CT on which he promised to grow enough rubber trees to allow Brazil to regain it's once mighty rubber monopoly.  Ford ramrodded his plans through and he sent scores of men and material down to his Brazilian holdings to build a rubber plantation his way.  Unfortunately for Ford his way was the wrong way and everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the notoriously penny pinching capitalist potentate. They grew the trees too close together, planted them too near the river, tried to micromanage their workers lives off duty and on, built the wrong style of houses, and at times, they had to deal with rioting workers and unionization attempts.  The litany of things that went wrong due to the hubris of the management team at Ford is astounding.  They tried to run this operation from the company HQ in Michigan and they paid dearly for their mistakes.

In the end hundreds died, a shit ton of money was wasted, and in the end it ended up being taken over by the US government who eventually turned it over to the Brazilian government.  It was a money pit full of failure for Ford, which is why they never talked much about it afterwards.

Grandin is a very good storyteller and his writing is top notch.  This book reads like a non fiction novel more than a history.  I highly recommend it.

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