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Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate Hardcover – November 13, 2001
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Henry Ford was not only one of America's great industrialists, he was also one of America's great haters. With "his rambling mouth" and his "volatile passions and budgetless financial resources," Ford became famous around the country and the world for his rabid anti-Semitism. "He did not like the Jews because he believed they were warmongering, manipulative, and alien," writes Neil Baldwin. A pacifist, Ford blamed the First World War on "German-Jewish bankers." In the 1920s, he published The Dearborn Independent, which featured notorious articles such as "The International Jew: The World's Problem." In 1938, he became the first American recipient of a Nazi award bestowed upon non-Germans. Baldwin details Ford's views and activities and also describes the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s. Henry Ford once declared, infamously, "History is more or less the bunk." His descendents seem to disagree. "Beginning with Henry Ford II," writes Baldwin, "succeeding generations of Fords have sought to put an end to Henry Ford's dark legacy" by supporting Israel and Jewish charities. Their actions bear out what one Jewish newspaper said in response to Ford in 1920: "We are firm in our belief that stupidity cannot triumph." --John Miller
From Publishers Weekly
The strength of this biography lies in context: by emphasizing Ford's background, influences and the world around the auto manufacturer, Baldwin (executive director of the National Book Foundation and author of Edison: Inventing the Century, etc.) brings a fresh approach to what has long been known about one of America's most famous anti-Semites. In the book's first part, Baldwin focuses on the climate of intellectual anti-Semitism that Ford experienced as a child and young adult and how these likely shaped his views about Jews. By the end of WWI, "Jews hatred was now an entrenched, permanent stain on Ford's psyche," which consistently teetered on the brink of sanity. Ford, who was raised on a farm, believed that Jews were responsible for the evils of modern cities and America's interventionist foreign policy, even as he remained friends with individual Jews. And as Baldwin disturbingly shows, Ford also put his twisted ideals into action by creating an anti-Semitic newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. (In this way, Ford was unlike Thomas Edison, whom Baldwin describes as a passive anti-Semite.) But Baldwin is not content to depict Ford's anti-Semitism and his cadre of like-minded people he also describes attempts to curb Ford's effect on society. After a lawsuit by a Jew maligned in the Independent, Ford eventually apologized with the help of Jewish organizations (whether or not that apology was sincere remains an open question). As he does elsewhere in the book, Baldwin probes the story behind this apology. His concise look at an organized American Jewry beginning to flex its muscles makes this excellent biography a tale of changing American ethnic relations. Illus. (Nov.)Forecast: The Jewish audience is a lock for this, but it should also appeal more broadly to students of American history and inter-ethnic relations.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
Central to Ford’s lifelong battles of words against the conspiratorial lenders of money and creators of war was his elementary education textbook, McGuffey’s Reader. As Lincoln had never met a black person until he was an adult, and then only a few until his move to Washington, the country around Detroit did not furnish Ford with any Jews until he was established by the mass production of his cars. Instead, the “country” instilled Ford with an agrarian pride that linked him to farmers and farm equipment, and against bankers. Baldwin points to Ford’s ancestry and childhood as an ideological foundation from which with all his success, at one point the richest man in the world, he never strayed. He never grew out of the textbook teachings of the usurer Shylock. The Dearborn Independent was the voice of his scapegoating, although only rarely did Ford even have personal reason to cry foul. Unlike Gerald L.K. Smith and Father Coughlin and William Dudley Pelley, his anti-Semitism was not politically motivated and not sensationalism. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion seemed to him more like a hobby born out of a child’s boredom.
Rabbi Leo Franklin had a tumultuous but long relationship with Ford. Rosika Schwimmer’s Peace Mission is a side note of history that displays the complexity of pacifism when it allies enemies. At least to Ford, she was an enemy and barely worth condescending. Albert Kahn was a good token Jew for Ford, a close associate and talented architect he could always point to when attacked by the likes of Aaron Sapiro, who took Ford to court and ultimately forced the “Henry Ford” image to retract the Independent as much as possible. Baldwin considers the words signed by Ford to be written by public relations handlers. Leading up to and during World War II, the real Ford was making the same grumbling pronouncements as he had in the company of Edison. Like Charles Lindbergh, Ford also accepted, while in Germany after the most obvious attacks on German Jews, the Grand Cross of the German Eagle. On page 285 it is noted that Thomas J. Watson of IBM “returned [his metal] in 1940” while Lindbergh received his as a total surprise only a few months later.
There is some information on the Bund, not enough to connect Ford as the Father of German-American activism, but there are more heroes involved: Julius Rosenwald, Herman Bernstein, Sapiro, Schwimmer, Judah Magnes, Jacob Schiff and Louis Marshall.
It's disappointed that he adopted and actually marketed his antisemitism throughout the Ford dealer network in the 1920s. A portion of his views stemmed from readings of prior anti-Semitic works of the turn of the 20th century. The only excuse I can offer for his hate is the lack of education and ignorance.
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.
Henry Ford.Baldwin very capably shows one of the pioneers of
American industry to be devoutly anti-semite.Ford himself was the
financier behind a anti-Jewish newspaper that was published in
Michigan.Ford was a fan of Adolph Hitler. Hitler had a portrait of Ford on thew wall in his office.Henry Ford received an award
from Hitler and showed up in person to receive it bringing with him many guests.Charles Linberg and Thomas Watson of IBM declined
the same award.Ford was also able to sell Ford products to the
Nazis receiving a monopoly on the Nazi vehicle market in the military.This book is packed with documented of Henry Ford's
anti-semite activities.Read this you will become better informed.
This is a good book. Buy it.