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The Flivver King: A Story Of Ford-America Paperback – January 1, 1984

ISBN-13: 978-0882860541 ISBN-10: 0882860542 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Charles H Kerr; 2nd edition (January 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0882860542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0882860541
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #680,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By mchenryed on August 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Sinclair writes an extremely interesting historical novel about the start of the Ford Automobile Company. The story is told from the perspective of Abner Shutt, one of Ford's first employees. Abner lives in the times where Henry Ford began his auto design humbly in the early 1900's till the mid 30's when Ford was known as the richest man in the world.
The story's focus, however, is on the treatment of the workers. When Ford started his factory, he cared a great deal about his employees, but as time went on he became obsessed with speeding up the manufacturing process and increasing his profits. By streamlining the process and making people work harder, his profits grew while his workers received the same pay. When the workers tried to form unions Ford's "hidden spies" crushed any attempt of congregation, even resorting to violence.
This book was like reading a detailed piece of history. Ford's anti-Semitic feelings are revealed through his little-known Dearborn Chronicle Magazine and how the Klan was active in the Detroit area. Also, Ford company initiatives are accounted for as well (such as moral families received a substantial bonus - if they allowed themselves to be investigated.) The historical scope of the novel is fascinating and I found it compelling, rich, and hard to put down. It is similar to the Sinclair's Jungle (an account on the conditions of the meat packing plants). The book was instrumental in the formation of the United Auto Worker's Union.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "netchild" on December 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Sinclair, known mainly for The Jungle, has created a masterpiece of proletarit literature. As in The Jungle Sinclair uses the guise of a storyteller to warn the working population that where there is a false idol created by gold there is a hell on earth as a result. Sinclair's overriding message is simple: where there is the extremely rich, there is the extremely poor. Unlike Karl Marx or others like Marx, Sinclair doesn't force the message down the readers throats, he slips a little of the message into our drink and before we know it we are inebriated with his viewpoint. The book is about 120 pages but in those short few pages you meet and come to care about characters like Abner Shutt, Tom Shutt, and even the antagonist Henry Ford, the Flivver King himself. Sinclairs greatest gift as a storyteller is his ability to make us empathize, not just sympathize, with the characters. By the end of the story we don't just know what it might have been like to be those people, we know exactly what it was like because for a few moments Sinclair made us become those people. Not only does this book give us tangible characters, it also gives us a tangible atmosphere of early 20th Century America. This book was instrumental in the founding of the union movement that swept America for a very good reason. Read it and find out why it is as important now as it was then. Read it and find a cure for apathy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By upinmichigan.org on April 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Upton Sinclair, The Flivver King

reviewed by Jacob Powers

Henry Ford. That national icon that we all learned at a young age is credited for making the automobile an accessible necessity to the American lifestyle. Because of his automobile metropolis, people from all over the world migrated to Detroit to be given the opportunity to work a five-dollar-a-day job on his assembly lines. Yes, Henry Ford is usually seen as the epitome man, successfully bronzing himself in Michigan history (to further prove this point, The Ford Museum recently changed its slogan to "America's Greatest History Attraction"). All in all, the Ford American icon makes him look like one hell of a guy. But, of course, there's more to the story than the simple assumption that Ford was a flawless man; after all, even icons have their faults.

That is why there is The Flivver King: A Story of Ford-America by the renowned author Upton Sinclair. Sinclair, best known for his novel The Jungle, uses true documented history of Ford's rise-from the early years as a man simply trying to build a working automobile all the way to the industrial giant that he became. In the process, the author does not forget about the men behind the scenes of the Ford Empire. By creating a fictional character named Abner Shutt, whose life continuously crosses paths with Ford, Sinclair presents a straightforward story of those who are often overshadowed by Ford's fame and success as an American icon, presenting a socialist perspective-yet a very easy read-of a history that is often one-sided.

Because of his attempts to capture history from multiple perspectives, Sinclair does not solely pinpoint Ford's strengths and successes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jimmy Nichols on April 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Upton Sinclair has given the reader a general overview of what life was like in Michigan when Henry Ford revolutionized the world with his invention of the automobile. Sinclair does this through following Abner Shutt from child to old age and his involvement with Henry Ford. Shutt is totally sold on the ideals and ethics of Henry Ford, but does this last? The Shutt family is consumed in the Ford machine, and every daily action revolves around Ford, the man and the machine. This book is very well written, and lets the reader view history as though he or she were living at the time with the Shutt family.
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