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I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford Hardcover – May 14, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (May 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451645570
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451645576
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Automobile mogul Henry Ford changed drastically during the years his Model T was produced. When in 1927 a funereal-looking Ford personally steered the 15 millionth T out of the factory, few remained of his associates who were present at the creation of the first T in 1908. Gone, too, was Ford’s reputation as a progressive industrialist. Opinion about The People’s Tycoon (title of Steven Watts’ 2005 biography) had nose-dived, and many thought he was an anti-Semite, a woolly-headed pacifist, and an authoritarian businessman, whose iconic car appeared antique-like compared to the competition. To track Ford’s metamorphosis, Snow agilely follows Ford’s relationship with the mechanical love of his life. During Ford’s years of tinkering, which culminated in the Model T, a gregarious, long-limbed Ford lopes through Snow’s pages, but he hunches over in ensuing ones, rejecting proposals to change the T en route to becoming an egotistic crank. Snow displays excellent storytelling skill as, stiffening by the years, Ford’s character develops through anecdotes and events in a lively narrative sequence that will engross readers curious about Ford and the Model T. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

"Richard Snow presents a biography of a brilliant, difficult and strange man, a technological thriller about the most important machine he made, and a social history of the country it transformed. You live in the world Henry Ford made; here is how it happened. I Invented the Modern Age is clear, amusing, stern and poignant." (Richard Brookhiser author of James Madison)

I Invented the Modern Ageis the amazing story of an amazing man, told with wit, insight, style, andzest. Richard Snow makes the invention of the automobile intelligible andfascinating even to car ignoramuses such as myself. His story of Ford theman is simply riveting. This is history as it should always be told.” (Kevin Baker Strivers Row)

“Highly readable.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Stylistically, Snow mimics the marvelously folksy, proteantemperament of his subject, dwelling on Ford’s early mechanical inventionsrather than his latter problematic prickliness, and everywhere portraying acompelling character.” (Kirkus)

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Customer Reviews

The good and the bad.
David S. Newman
This was interesting, brief history of Henry Ford's beginning and the beginning of the huge automobile producing industry in America.
Thurman Simmons
Anyone interested in history will love this book.
Donnie K. Dixon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Peter Harris on June 20, 2014
Format: Paperback
Entertaining biography of an important figure in American history? check. Widely acclaimed historian-writer? Check. Excitement and intrigue? Check. Each of these facets is available in Richard Snow's "I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford."

With attention to detail, Snow has created a fresh look at a familiar figure. Few are familiar with Ford's humble beginnings are a farmer, and the author paints a picture of a resourceful boy who used salvaged scraps to initiate an empire that would transform the world. Clearly, Snow has strength in weaving details and anecdotes in a surprising way. The result is a solid characterization.

Snow's fantastic storytelling methods makes for an amusing tale, even for those who have read Ford biographies in the past. It seems an accurate depiction of a transformation from a farmer who simply "knew how things were put together" to an innovator who was "making half the automobiles in America." In fact, ratings for "I Invented the Modern Age" tend to be more positive than those Steven Watts' "The People's Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century."

This is a biography that paints the whole picture without shying away from controversy. While Henry Ford is an industrious innovator who has contributed immensely to American culture, he was not a likable man at his core. "I Invented the Modern Age" is a great choice to sit among your well-written biographies or automobile books like How to Restore the Model A Ford.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Carol Peckham on June 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This wonderful book pulls Henry Ford into the present by presenting us with his deep revealing shadow. Richard Snow has chosen to create a picture of Ford that starts in his early life and leads ineluctably to the development of the Model T, which Snow describes convincingly as having invented the modern age. This isn't a new idea of course but what this book does is not only evoke a vivid picture of genius at its peak but it provides the essence of what we gained and lost through Ford's bizarre twists of character. We gained, of course, mass production and the automobile as a transformative force. And with Ford doubling the working man's salary, we also gained a middle class. (The book goes on to report on the brutality Ford later used against his workers, but that early support of the worker was an almost heartbreaking reminder of what is now being lost --US manufacturing and the working middle class.) And we probably also lost the possiblity of a global organization right after WWI. The book doesn't shy away from Ford's very weird and destructive anti-Semitism, his ruthless treatment of men who had been indispensible in his rise, nor his damaging and tragic relationship with his son. However, throughout this brilliant book I was periodically reminded of two other men, Steve Jobs and Robert Moses, who were also initially motivated by the desire to change lives for good. All three achieved monstrous changes in the fabric of society by building tangible stuff and overcoming extreme obstacles to do so. In the process, however, all three also underwent crippling psychological changes that made them, somehow, monstrous. To make this point, the important biographers of Jobs and Moses wrote very long books. Snow elegantly and kindly reveals this in far fewer pages. And it reads like a novel.Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By timothy sho donahue on August 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you like history,the automobile and manufacturing you will enjoy this book.It is a great history about the Path Henry took to invent a car, build it and get it into mass production.He made mistakes along the way and also took some big risks on big ideas. The part I found most interesting is that his son was actually better qualified to run the business but never allowed to spread his wings. Henry was not the best father and in many respects, not a good man to work for if you had your own ideas.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Michael E LaRiviere on May 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of the best books of recent release.

Begin with a poor dirt farmer's son with a love for what makes things work but a hatred for farming, a creative genius second to none, the spirit of an entrepreneur par excellence, and ceaseless energy toward experimentation and perfection and you have the foundation for an interesting story.

What must a writer have to make that backdrop interesting, pull a reader into that story, hold him or her and entice each one into wanting more and more of what they are reading?

First, Richard Snow had to possess a wordsmithing skill sufficient to bring together all the elements of a growing industrialization, a change in manufacturing techniques, the realities of a world political situation, and the marketing of a new phenomenon, the automobile. He hit a bull's eye on all counts.

Secondly, Snow must have a working vocabulary and the language of a bygone period, be comfortable with principles of economy, social mores, and human nature of a time before most of his readers were even born. Then the difficulty of the task takes over and proves or disproves the skillset of the author, his mastery of syntax, his understanding of history, and his comprehension of politics, war, economics, and the human spirit; again right on the money.

How does a writer weave an interesting work that ends up to be so fascinating, so interesting, so rewarding, that a reader comes away having learned valuable things, experienced true emotion, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, the discomfort of error with the necessity of trial?

Snow portrays a young Henry Ford, a person of honor, honesty, integrity, drive, tenacity, and brilliance in a storyline that is sure to capture and hold the reader for the entire span of the book.
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