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Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire Hardcover – July 3, 2003

ISBN-13: 072-3812120260 ISBN-10: 0471234877 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (July 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471234877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471234876
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 10.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bak (Detroit Across Three Centuries) gives new life to the well-known story of industrialist Henry Ford (1863-1947) and his rise from Michigan farm boy to the powerful head of an automobile manufacturing company. Deeply interested in anything mechanical, Ford left the family farm to become a machinist's apprentice, an engineer, a race-car builder and, in 1903, founded the Ford Motor Company. In 1908, the company produced the Model T, a simply designed car for the average family that was wildly successful and made Ford a millionaire. Responsible for implementing the assembly line in the mass production of cars, Ford also initially provided his workers with a living wage. In this engrossing history, the author traces the power grabs at Ford Motor, focusing particularly on the relationship between Ford and his only son, Edsel, both of whom spring to life here. Although Ford initially planned to have Edsel take over the company, he relied on the advice of Henry Bennett, the tyrannical security chief, who thought that Edsel was a weakling. According to Bak, Edsel was a cultured, talented man and an expert at designing cars. He did not share his father's hatred of unions that translated into repeated violence against organizers. Ford outlived his son, who died of cancer, a death many believed to have been hastened by conflicts with his father. Despite their problems, Ford loved his son and was deeply grieved by his death. Fully documented here (though not for the first time) is Ford's virulent anti-Semitism, which he expressed through articles in the Dearborn Independent. Photos.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

"Get a horse!" onlookers shouted at Henry Ford as he drove his first car. Yet the Ford Motor Company, a multibillion-dollar empire, grew out of that original experiment. The automobile manufacturer greatly influenced American culture, using the assembly line to maximize production and profits while raising wages and lowering prices--and enabling his employees and the mass market to buy his cars. In describing the struggle between Henry and his only child, Edsel, the author weaves a tale of success and failure, intrigue and human frailty. Henry is painted as an eccentric, erring leader, while Edsel is depicted as a heroic and imaginative executive who withstood the cunning of Henry's designated successor (outsider Henry Bennett) to save the company. This book's publication coincides with the 100th anniversary of the company's incorporation and likely received the blessing of the current family management. With the reported years of rancor in the Ford family, we do not know how balanced Bak's characterizations of the major players are. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By MLPlayfair on October 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
HENRY AND EDSEL offers insight into the characters of Henry and Edsel Ford and what it was that compelled them. The book presents a strong sense of time and the Fords' presence in and contribution to the events around them. The book is filled with interesting anecdotes. The best part for me were the several chapters called "rearview mirror" -- accounts written by eyewitnesses who recorded their version of important events: Edsel's death, the riots, etc. The author also introduced us to some of the hard workers and bright people Henry surrounded himself with in order to get to the top. One person CAN change the world -- but almost never alone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Keith Lingle on December 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a well written book about the story of Henry and Edsel. I find it unfortunate that popular history has all but forgotten Edsel Ford, without whom the Ford Motor Company, and by extension, transportation in the United States would look vastly different.

If you are a Ford fan, or know one, this is a must read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christopher D. Holland on September 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As the owner of a Model A Ford, I am always interested in reading about the Fords that built the car. Henry was not a person that I would want to have known, but was still very interesting. Edsel was very different from his father, and a person that I would like to have met. It was a good read, and one that I will pick up again and read again. (I can't say that about most books.) I would highly recommend for any one that is interested in the history of the American automobile industry.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on April 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Richard Bak is a long-time resident of Detroit and Dearborn, Michigan, and doubtless absorbed much of the Ford legacy simply by growing up in a place that Ford formed. This book is not exactly a corporate history, not exactly a biography and not exactly a tell-all celebrity book, but it has elements of each. The most interesting pieces include the extended reminiscences by people who lived and worked closely with the Fords, and especially with Edsel's family. He has long lingered in the shadow of his famous father and it is somewhat surprising to discover that he had some fine qualities. These reminiscences have poignant moments that establish the veracity of any number of proverbs on money, happiness and the foibles of the great. The book is reasonably well written and fairly concise. It recapitulates the essentials of the Ford story, though it glances over the evolution of management and organization at the company. We assure you that you'll get the full Ford saga here, though you may have to extrapolate the business lessons it teaches for yourself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Grant Kuckuck on July 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many interesting and little known historical facts come to light. The auto industry in its infancy is quite fascinating and this book a view of it from the inside.

Add to that the human interest and family relationships that were so different than perceived by the public for a refreshing read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Henry 8th on March 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a very good and well research history of Henry Ford and the family life which does not often come up in other similar books. it carefully shows the good and bad points of his character.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on March 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Richard Bak is a long-time resident of Detroit and Dearborn, Michigan, and doubtless absorbed much of the Ford legacy simply by growing up in a place that Ford formed. This book is not exactly a corporate history, not exactly a biography and not exactly a tell-all celebrity book, but it has elements of each. The most interesting pieces include the extended reminiscences by people who lived and worked closely with the Fords, and especially with Edsel's family. He has long lingered in the shadow of his famous father and it is somewhat surprising to discover that he had some fine qualities. These reminiscences have poignant moments that establish the veracity of any number of proverbs on money, happiness and the foibles of the great. The book is reasonably well written and fairly concise. It recapitulates the essentials of the Ford story, though it glances over the evolution of management and organization at the company. We assure you that you'll get the full Ford saga here, though you may have to extrapolate the business lessons it teaches for yourself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By gordon morrow on March 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Another view of the Ford family. I have read several books about the Fords and this one had information I had never heard before.
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