111 of 141 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2002
YES - The essential facts put forward by Baldwin are correct: Ford was a major anti-semite and he gave money to the German Nazis, helping them into power.
Yet, Baldwin's research is pathetic... a great deal of it was his imagination. He fails to present facts put forward by Kurt Ludecke's I KNEW HITLER; or Bennett's WE NEVER CALLED HIM HENRY; with any accuracy - he simply makes up what he wants.
For example, Baldwin states that the day after Nazi fund raiser Kurt Ludecke visited Ford, and Ludecke was turned away, a telegram to Lukecke arrived the NEXT DAY stating that Ford wouldn't give money through Ludecke to Hitler. Yet - READ Ludecke's I KNEW HITLER - the only primary source available on Ludecke/Ford. In this ONLY first hand account, Ludecke writes that several WEEKS (not ONE day) passed between his meeting with Ford and arrival of the telegram in question.
Baldwin has failed here as he does throughout the book to provide an accurate account of events. He makes no mention of the difference in Ludecke's primary source account and his own secondary account. Baldwin has shown himself as incompetent.
I have researched this subject for over 2 years. Baldwin makes a
serious error on virtually every page. His errors show an incredible degree of sloppy research. He seems to have only half-read his sources. His book is a joke as a serious work on Ford, anti-semitism, German inter-war history, and Hitler A far, far, better book is Albert Lee's Henry Ford and the Jews (1980). Interestingly, in the forward of Baldwin's book he writes that he put Lee's book (the one with the SAME title which inspired him) on the "shelf" while writing his book. YET, he quotes Albert Lee's: Henry Ford And The Jews, often throughout his book. How on the shelf could that book have been, since he was citing it so often?
Baldwin is a professor of poetry, not a historian, and his lack of understanding of the sort of research that goes into such a work is evident to anyone who has bothered to read the sources he cites. Baldwin constantly takes liberties; invents events that didn't happen; embellishes, and novelizes. He fails to demonstrate that his work is anything but the work of someone who should stay with what he has done very well in the past: writing books on poetry.
This is, bottom line, an appallingly ill-researched book - one of the worst I've ever seen that claims to be a serious work.
The only thing good that can be said about this book is that it helped to bring Henry Ford's support of anti-semitism, Nazis and so forth to the public's attention - but that is all.
If the material were not so important to discuss, I would give this book 1 star. As it is, I give it 2 because he did make an attempt (albeit pathetic, as it is) to take on a very hot subject.
Again... the broad facts in Baldwin's book are very correct, but the specifics are nearly all wrong. Baldwin wrote a historical fiction novel masquarading as a historiograhy.
Bottom line: get Albert Lee's Henry Ford and the Jews (1980) instead of this ill-researched "novel."
88 of 116 people found the following review helpful
History must be revised when any new and accurate information appears. Neil Baldwin's book, "Henry Ford And The Jews The Mass Production Of Hate", utilizes some information that was only opened from archives in March of 2001. Further, no matter how much time may pass, history as portrayed in this book must always be available to new generations of readers. I believe that the darker aspects of this country's or any nation's history, must be documented accurately and fairly. Reality has demonstrated that with the passage of time facts are forgotten, and become the target for revisionists who replace history with fiction. Historical events like The Holocaust have been defended in court within the last 2 years. The defense was required to prove The Holocaust took place.
Mr. Baldwin has documented the actions of one of the most influential businessmen of the 20th Century. Mr. Henry Ford's achievements in the production of his cars are a fact of history. Mr. Ford was a talented man, and had he confined himself to what he was competent to conduct, his memory would be a very different one. Mr. Ford is portrayed in this book by a wide variety of sources as a man who was amazingly ill informed, a man who placed no value on education, was a tyrant to those who made his fortune, and a man who had the distinction of having his portrait on the wall of Adolph Hitler's Office. Like other notable names in American History he accepted the highest honor bestowed on a non-German by Hitler. Another recipient Charles Lindbergh could claim he had no idea he was to be presented with the, "Honor". Mr. Ford accepted his on the occasion of his birthday with 1500 invited guests. Another famous recipient of the award was Mr. Thomas Watson of IBM fame. Of the 3 men, only the latter had the common sense to return the medal. Mr. Ford proudly stood for photographs of his presentation on July 30, 1938. At this point there is no conceivable defense for claiming not to know what Hitler was about.
Mr. Ford claimed to hate those who were profiteers of war. His views changed as Ford operated in Germany throughout World War II producing tens of thousands of military trucks and cars, and unlike other companies, Ford was never nationalized, and retained majority ownership throughout the war. As the Nazi's invaded other nations they handed the production of cars over to Ford.
It helps to bring the idea of how influential this man was forward in time. Today you would need to take the head of one of the world's largest companies, and then imagine his conducting himself as Ford did. Today it is inconceivable that a person could buy a newspaper for the express purpose of spreading Anti-Semitic hatred, that a person could publish countless thousands of copies of, "The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion", and continue to claim they were anything but the fiction they were. But this is what he did, for decades. He continually tried to force anyone who bought one of his cars to buy a subscription to his paper; he demanded that dealers tie his anti-Semitism to every sale.
Mr. Ford is often spoken of when better wages are discussed during his period in manufacturing history. What I had not read before was the private portion of the company that would inspect the homes and personal habits of workers to qualify them for this added pay. A worker was subject to any invasion of privacy to ensure he lived, as Ford deemed appropriate. Henry Ford never did anything that was not in his interest, and was not tangled in strings for those who would accept his "largesse".
The author was catalyzed to pursue this subject when The Ford Motor Company underwrote all the funds that would have been generated by selling commercials when, "Schindler's List", was first aired on television. This is the new Ford Company that came about almost immediately upon the founder's death. The present company in no way should be blamed for the sins of its founder, however after half a century has passed, the need to make amends is clearly still felt.
The book tells a tragic story of events that took place not so long ago. Events that will always be relevant, should always be available, and never forgotten.
35 of 50 people found the following review helpful
As previously inaccessible material becomes available to an historian such as Baldwin (e.g. Ford-related documents released from archives in March of this year), it is possible to fill in at least some of the missing "pieces" of a complicated "puzzle" such as Henry Ford. By now Ford is widely recognized as an equal opportunity hater, not only of Jews, but as Baldwin suggests, he seems to have been obsessed with Jews. To a significant extent, Ford was a product of his times and of the specific circumstances of his youth and early career. He was not alone in his hatred of Jews nor was he alone when blaming them for all manner of social and economic crises whose true causes he was unwilling and/or unable to understand. Any evidence offered to dispute him was "bunk." No one questions Ford's importance in the development of 20th century business. His achievements were abundant, unique, and of major significance. Of course, Baldwin is fully aware of those achievements which are undeniable.
The focus of his book, rather, is on Henry Ford the human being, not the industrial icon. Baldwin creates a context within which to understand Ford's personality as well as the values which motivated his behavior. We learn about the nature and extent of his draconian control over those whom he employed. We learn about the people he hired to maintain that control at whatever cost. We learn about his fundamental hypocrisies such as blaming the Jews for exploiting world wars to their advantage while he and his company reaped great profits from them, especially from World War One. Ford was an ignorant man and apparently proud of it. He learned only what he needed to know to establish and then build what has since become one of the world's largest manufacturing companies. Apparently Ford believed that he could mass-produce workers according to his strict specifications just as his company mass-produced automobiles according to equally stringent standards. Perhaps, just perhaps, Ford hated Jews so much because they did not meet such specifications. We know he used the word "Jew" interchangeably with other words such as "war profiteers" and "moneylenders." He maintained strict control over the mechanisms by which he could propagate his anti-Semitism. For example, the series "The International Jew: The World's Problems" ran for 91 weeks in the Dearborn (MI) Independent which Ford owned.
For Ford, Jews were convenient scapegoats. After reading Baldwin's well-written and well-researched book, I still do not fully understand Ford's hatred of Jews. Perhaps even he couldn't explain it and no one else will ever know all of the reasons. In 1927, he signed (without reading it) an "apology" drafted by Lewis Marshall, a prominent Jewish lawyer. It is doubtful that the statement was sincere. More likely, Ford feared loss of business. His offensive theories about social engineering notwithstanding, he was until the day he died an unrepentant capitalist. He said or did whatever he deemed necessary to achieve his business objectives.
37 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2001
I couldn't put this book down. I was raised thinking that Henry Ford was an average American guy who used sheer fortitude, hard work, and intuition to become what Forbes Magazine called the "Greatest Entrepreneur of the Century!" Little did I know that Ford's hate for the Jews permeated his life; his actions created an atmosphere for global Jew-hating that may have seeded Hitler's final solution.
How many Americans know that Hitler hung a poster of Ford behind his desk, or that he coveted copies of Ford hate-rhetoric at the same time he was penning Mein Kampf? I can't be the only one who didn't know that Hitler actually presented Ford with a hero-worship medal, or that the German branch of Ford Comapny probably produced engines which were used against the Allies in W.W.II. This is a quick lesson in how money creates power, and how power prevents people from seeing through the thin veil of opportunism that is often a shield for prejudice.
Ford was a person who knew how to run a business, even if it meant compromising the rights of employees; he worked for years to bust unions and he created a human resources area in the Ford company that spied on workers and fired them for "breaking" spoken and unspoken rules of conduct.
I could go on and on quoting Baldwin's scholarship in revealing the unkindliness and evil of Henry Ford and the men who empowered him. There is a wealth of material in the book, much of it footnoted to ensure clarity. Sometimes I went to those footnotes, as I was curious about where specific information had come from. Time and time again, I was astonished at the range of research, and the author's ability to weave myraid sources and information into a compelling story.
I am changed from reading the book. For example, I finally understand the political and social climate which existed both in the US and America during the time of Hitler's rise to power. It is also conceiveable to me now, how America stood by (for so long) as Jews were systematically killed; we stood by because American big business was "part of the problem". I also understand the ageless legacy of anti-semitism which has seeded continued world confusion about Judiasm: Race or Religion?
If you are a student of the Holocaust, an American who wants to know the real story about one of our culture's "great" minds, read this book, and begin to understand the concept of revisionist history.
How is it possible that Ford could have had a newspaper (The Dearbourn Independent) that committed itself to degredation of the Jews, less than a century ago, and that this could have been left out of this history books? Who kept it out of the history books?
I thank Neil Baldwin for lifting the veil of ignorance our society has had about the life of Henry Ford. It's time that we respect Ford's wealth, and save our hero-worship for truly Americans, who recognize that diversity is what makes America great.
21 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2001
While Henry Ford's anti-Semitism was not unknown before Neil Baldwin's terrific new book, it was always considered a small aberration of personality, nothing to stop Ford from keeping his valued place in American history. No longer.
In Baldwin's devastating account of the "Flivver King's" biases and how they grew, the reader is invited not merely to understand Henry Ford but the culture around him that fostered and nurtured his prejudices.
The cast of characters in this astounding book, from the hateful men in Ford's inner sanctuum to the leaders of American Jewry, are a fascinating lot. Baldwin also includes depictions of others who attempted to sway Ford from his chosen path, including the European feminist-pacifist Rosika Schwimmer and the labor leader Aaron Sapiro, whose lawsuit finally caused Ford to issue an apology for his misdeeds.
Among the most compelling facts that Baldwin has amassed are those tying Ford to the Nazi movement. I won't give away the particulars of that sordid story. Suffice it to say that America was linked more closely than we ever knew to Hitler and his henchmen, thanks to Ford's reckless behavior.
This book is much more than an embellishment of a footnote in the life of a great American: It forces a total re-evaluation of Henry Ford. Whatever his business triumphs, they have been neutralized for all time.
This is an important and timely book, gracefully written.
on November 27, 2015
A slow read, didn't make it through it. Not many people know that Henry was an anti-Semitic.
on August 6, 2015
Very truthful, serious and unfortunately sad book about Ford'd anti-Semitism
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2008
I found Niel Baldwin's research very credible, educational and revealing. Once I picked up the book, I found it highly interesting and it was very hard to put down.
In the US deregulated laissez faire economy of the early 20th century, wealth was concentrated into the hands of the few large manufacturers like Ford. And they became the role models for millions of people around the world. People listened to them.
Unfortunately, it didn't take wisdom, sharp intellect, insight, or moral judgment to have a large fortune and be considered a role model of success and influential to the world over. The fact is Henry Ford was out of control, speaking, endorsing and publishing foolish and hatefull, biased ideology, based on his library, consisting of three or four books, including McGuffey, Emerson and the bible.
From Baldwin's credible sources, including many eye witness accounts, the Dearborne Independent, the International Jew, Questions, and other sources, Ford employs blatant racism, hate and simplistic conspiracy theory of world domination, using the scape goat mind set, which was accepted by so many of that time period, tolerated by the general public and completely out of character of today's consciousness, at least on such a blatant stereo typical level. Interesting to see when accused of racism in court, Ford's editor William John Cameron and personal secretary Ernest E. Liebold take all the responsibility, claiming Ford did not personally write or read the articles. Even the apology letter that was later written for Ford by Louis Marshall, a leading Jewish activist and constitutional lawyer, was defended by Liebold that Ford never read it and that he never changed his views against the Jews on world control and conspiratorial theories.
Like the trumped up and bogus authenticity of the 15th century Witch hunting manual, the The Malleus Maleficarum, the Protocols of Zion revelation of "secret meetings of the elders," revealing a plot to rule the world, stolen from Theodore Herzel himself, was taken seriously by ethogenic and racial theorists. But when copies of this supposed secret plan to rule the world came across mainstream businesses and governments, this became a story that needs to be told and understood in history.
Ford directly influenced the Nazis, including Hitler himself and received a medal from him. Ford's teachings helped fuel the Nazi death camps, as spoke about in the Nuremberg trials by Baldur von Schirach, Julius Streicher and Alfred Rosenberg and Ford's autobiography, My Life, was one of the only books in Hitler's library that had thumbprints and was dog eared from use. Ford's so called integrity in fighting for peace against the First World War (the peace ship), was hypocritically contradicted with his rhetoric of hate and racism and Ford-Werke A.G, the German Ford plant that employed forced slave labor and possibly produced German weaponry. Also, in the 50s and 60s Ford produced the trucks used by the North Vietnamese to carry weapons and munitions for use against Americans.
Personally speaking after reading this book, that despite Ford's major accomplishments in the automobile industry, his credibility as a person, character, intellect and spiritual development is void. His money, power and influence did not take the place of good and justice. And sadly, Edison and Linbergh didn't run very high up on the spiritual ladder either. This can same type of ugly moral emptiness against the Jews can also be found in the blatant lack of ethical judgment in the history of abuses against the Palestinians.
12 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2002
Neil Baldwin's look at Henry Ford and his anti-semitic views is an important one. Most people know something about Ford's anti-semitism. However, with this book one gets a full picture of the nature of his prejudice, the way it was expressed, and it's root causes. In addition, Mr. Baldwin has added to the value of this story by covering, in some detail, the responses of various members of the Jewish community to this very big problem. Mr. Ford was an extremely influential American, and as such, it was very important for Jewish leaders to respond to the outrageous and harmful ideas that were expressed in publications (such as The Dearborn Independent) that he was associated with. However, leaders differed with regard to how to best deal with this problem, and indeed it was something that had to be handled carefully.
In some ways, this is a very sad story, for it shows us some of the worst aspects of a man who was and still is revered by many. It also reminds us of how prevalent anti-semitism was in America during the first few decades of the twentieth century. Nevertheless, this is an important story, and Neil Baldwin has told it in a book that combines good writing with outstanding scholarship. I don't think that it will disappoint the serious reader.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2013
Lots of things about Henry Ford and his hatred for the Jews I knew already - but this book gives a good foundation for where this came from. And how prevalent anti-semitism was in the environment where he learned and studied. The Jews were described as the Christ killers; and the vermin of the earth in some of the earliest books he read while being home taught - and later in classes.
He kept many of these widely published books around him all through his life. So much of who we are and what we think - are simply based on where and how we grew up and were taught.
The most surprising thing was just how far back anti-semitism goes - and how it was used to help form the Christian faith.