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Once Upon a Car: The Fall and Resurrection of America's Big Three Automakers--GM, Ford, and Chrysler Paperback – September 25, 2012
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Amazon Exclusive Essay: Bill Vlasic on the Men who Battled for the American Auto Industry
Bill Ford: The great-grandson of Henry Ford realized he had to give up his job as chief executive in order to save the company. He confided to aides: “I’m not the best person to operate this place,” he said. “I want to get somebody who can do it right.”
Alan Mulally: The former Boeing executive’s fresh approach turned the company around and kept it from begging for a government bailout. “These three companies have been slowly going out of business for eighty years,” he said. “And their arrogance caught up with them.”
Rick Wagoner and Bob Lutz: They were convinced G.M. was on the right track, until the 2008 recession. Wagoner, G.M.’s chairman and CEO, lost his job after leading the Big Three to Washington for emergency assistance. “The moral of the story,” he said, “is never put yourself in a position where you have to go down there.” Lutz said, “Those people down there hate us.”
Kirk Kerkorian and Jerry York: The Las Vegas billionaire and his aggressive advisor tried to grab General Motors, but failed. “Wagoner has never accomplished anything,” said Kerkorian. York urged him to buy Ford shares – and ride Mulally’s turnaround plan. “It’s pretty damn clear to me that Ford has a huge sense of urgency compared to G.M.,” he said.
Steve Feinberg: The intense chairman of Cerberus Capital Management believed his private-equity company could turn Chrysler into a moneymaker, and so he bought the smallest of the Big Three carmakers from Daimler Benz. “What could be a better opportunity than an orphan in an industry that’s at the bottom?”
Sergio Marchionne: The crafty head of Fiat offered the Obama administration an alternative to letting Chrysler go broke which would liquidate tens of thousands of jobs. Marchionne knew Detroit was facing its reckoning in 2008. “I can smell the fear in this town,” he said. “I can feel it, the feeling of impending doom.”--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Compelling... a human approach to an industry that couldn’t be less human in scale... entertaining.” (Wall Street Journal)
“The book is extraordinary. Vlasic offers what will probably become the definitive retelling of the crisis that nearly felled America’s three carmaking icons.” (Financial Times)
“Once Upon a Car is the best book on the whole shebang that you are ever going to read... a critical history.” (Huffington Post)
“With almost anthropological precision, Once Upon a Car is a thorough and compelling account of the collapse of the domestic auto industry” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“A deeply reported, full-on narrative in the style of Barbarians at the Gate or Game Change.” (Chicago Tribune)
“Even with all the ink spilled on Detroit lately, Vlasic’s tale is as fresh as a new car… Vlasic says he wanted to write a fast-paced narrative, and he’s penned a page-turner in Once Upon a Car” (Fortune.com)
“Vlasic delivers a devastating account of auto industry arrogance, ignorance, and tragedy.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Terrific... better than most novels... truly fascinating.” (Free Lance Star Virginia)
“Vlasic enriches his journalistic attention to detail with the drama and pacing of a thriller.” (800ceoRead)
“Vlasic is a master storyteller whose prowess makes the absorption of many complex facts painless.” (strategy-business.com)
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Top Customer Reviews
I've had the opportunity to have read pretty much every book that has been written about the Detroit car biz over the past decade,and I would put this one near the top for both storytelling,and an objective analysis of the ills and triumphs of the domestic auto industry.If you have even the slightest interest in the automotive business,and the people that run it,this book is a must read.
Bill Vlasic has access to the top people in the auto industry and uses it well. He tells his story through people but doesn't get bogged down in their personal issues. His writing makes the other authors who have written about the recent history of the American auto industry look like amateurs.
Another key insight a reader will glean is the role of labor unions and the power (right or wrong) in directly impacting the fate of the very companies that employ them. In a rare editorial comment, Vlasic points out that there is "nothing inherently better in American workers than...." and almost goes on to make the case of how unions may have been over-reaching.
Through the intertwined narration of the Big 3's trials and tribulations, a reader will be able to discern almost three unique management styles ranging from a benevolent leader who knew when to step down (Ford), a degree of detachment bordering on indifference. The stark contrasts in the management styles and personalities is a treat for any reader and could easily form the basis of leadership case studies. A neutral observer would end up having a more positive view of Bill Ford and to some extent both Bush and Obama (how Bush didnt want the incoming president to be faced with the crisis and how Obama imposed conditions on bailout). Ford comes out looking as a better-run company.Read more ›
In this book, Vlasic tells the full story of why Chrysler and GM imploded (and why Ford came close to doing so) when the Great Recession hit. He starts with General Motors, nicely outlining the very insular and out-of-touch culture of that organization then moves onto Ford's slow turnaround. He handles one of the highlights -- the breakup of DaimlerChrysler -- with enough drama to keep readers riveted. Vlasic fills out his tale-telling with interviews with many of the principals. For example, thanks to his positioning of Dieter Zeitsche with DaimlerChrysler (and Mercedes-Benz), I no longer think that the Germans were soulless creatures, determined to "Germanize" Chrysler into becoming Mercedes-Benz/US. He added color to these people whom most of us know from the press. Vlasic even lends a sympathetic brush to Rick Wagoner of GM -- though Wagoner was so hopelessly out of touch with his actions, he was, at least, humanized.
Why only three stars? A couple of things. First, I was a little taken aback at the portrayal of Alan Mulally as Ford's savior. Vlasic brushes by the fact that Ford was in just as much trouble as GM and Chrysler by 2008-2009.Read more ›
What you might also like about this book is that not only does Vlasic interview the top players and CEOs within the companies but he also interviews blue collar line workers to get and show their perspective on what was going during this major shake up in the American auto industry. What you receive is a well-rounded picture of what happened during this time in history.
The thing I liked the most about this book is that it is a professionally written book and is written like a story or a fly on the wall during the fall and resurrection of the Auto Industry. So many books I have read on the subject are just one person pontificating on his opinion of what happened. What Vlasic does is he tries to give a complete and unbiased account of what happened.
Some have stated that Vlasic is too pro-Ford, or too pro-Mulally.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The best of the several overviews of the period leading up to and through the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler and the restructuring of Ford under Mulally.Published 15 days ago by smitka
Great history of the demise and rebooting of the U.S. Big Three automakers from 2006-2012.Published 1 month ago by crispy_critter
You want to know more about what took place in those hectic years that reshaped the US auto industry? This book should be on your list. Read morePublished 1 month ago by RPH
This reads more like a mystery/intrigue novel than a business book. It holds your attention, keeps complicated situations relatively simple, and really draws you into the drama... Read morePublished 1 month ago by ChrisMHorner
The book is exciting, well written, in depth look Into the events that led to the fall of the Big 3. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I've been in the industry for in access of 4 decades - it's a engaging walk down the near dismantling of the industryPublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Fantastic book on a very interesting topic. You won't be able to put it downPublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
If you want to know what really went on with the bail out of the car industry, this is a MUST read!Published 9 months ago by David Allen