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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A manifesto for the protestant work ethic coupled to production efficiency
While the title reads life and work, for the author this meant more or less work is life. In a way it is an old school biography - in this case focused mostly on the company in question, rather than the author himself - in the same vein as Hilton's Be My Guest. It is also very much focusing on the principles of management that Henry Ford believed in, and is in that way a...
Published on 16 Aug 2010 by AK

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Total disappointment
The book was not at all what I expected. I had already read this book but I wanted a nice copy to have and maybe read again in the future. It lookes like all the pages have been photocopied from another book and the writing on some pages is so distorted theat you can't understand it. I wouldn't recommend this particular copy to anyone, and certainly not for this price. I...
Published on 10 Nov 2012 by Gabi


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A manifesto for the protestant work ethic coupled to production efficiency, 16 Aug 2010
By 
AK (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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While the title reads life and work, for the author this meant more or less work is life. In a way it is an old school biography - in this case focused mostly on the company in question, rather than the author himself - in the same vein as Hilton's Be My Guest. It is also very much focusing on the principles of management that Henry Ford believed in, and is in that way a great complement to Alfred P. Sloan's My Years with General Motors - something worthwhile reading for anyone interested in or working in the automotive industry (and interested in management more broadly, as well).

A lot of the moves Ford made from the start at the turn of last century to the meteoric rise and peak in the early 1920's, when the book was written are described in the book, with the logic behind it laid out. You will be able to read about the $5 workday, the constant quest for production efficiency improvement, the practical (and not from forged results, like with Taylor) results of scientific management, the production line, the constant lowering of prices for the product, following efficiency gains, the mechanisation of agriculture, etc. Some, such as the introduction of the production line and the $5 a day salary are relatively well known, the rest perhaps less so and what the book does relatively well is show how the system works well holistically and what is needed in order to implement it.

On top of describing production, quite some attention is being devoted to other aspects of business, which Ford considered peripheral, misused and generally badly run - such as financing, hedging, transport, law, etc. In his view the finance aspects and departments even in his day were overemphasised and one can easily see how the efficiency based system he was striving for would be hard to implement in a company where the owner / CEO does not have the ultimate control - stock markets as well as shareholders would be fairly unlikely to support the low dividend and low article profitability (compensated by a meteoric rise in sales leading to an extremely solid profitability overall) back then as well as now. His basic message being that more money will not prevent bad management, rather it will perpetuate it, removing the urgency and need for more fundamental operative changes. He also warns agains hedging (raw materials, currency etc.) - in his view, when a business makes a killing in those areas a couple of times, the temptation is great to focus the effort here rather than on production or the delivery of goods and services, something likely to lead to decline in the longer term (he did not believe it is consistently possible to beat the market).

The book is also surprising if one looks at when it was written - many later authors seem to have borrowed extremely heavily from it. Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged (Penguin Modern Classics), The Fountainhead (Penguin Modern Classics)) appears to have taken on many ideas - although her disdain for the common man is not shared by Ford (he is much more egalitarian in this respect - i.e. people have different capabilities but it is also the responsibility of the management and the people with abilities to make sure the rest fulfill their potential). The stock and flow framework of Jay Forrester's System Dynamics (as introduced by the author in his book Industrial Dynamics) is described here (decades earlier), too. He also seems to have predated Colin Chapman's (of Lotus fame) obsession of adding lightness to everything by about 5 decades.

As for the style, Ford does not necessarily write for readability - it will be much closer to works of his time in this respect, more of a Veblen's The Theory of the Leisure Class (Oxford World's Classics) than the work of a late 20th century management guru. Still, it is not a real chore to read, it just requires a bit more concentration.

Finally, it is interesting to see how the system he devised and operated so effectively for about two decades was replaced and enriched by Sloan's version of mass customisation, something Ford was forced to adapt but a few brief years after the book was written. If you are interested in how some of Ford's ideas evolved (and degenerated) later on, I can also warmly recommend Sloan's My Years with General Motors for the next stage of development, Dewar's A Savage Factory: An Eyewitness Account of the Auto Industry's Self-Destruction for the complete brakdown of relations between labour and management (also at Ford), and either DeLorean's On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors: John Z. De Lorean's Look Inside the Automotive Giant or Yates' The Decline and Fall of the American Automobile Industry for the final stages of cancerous development / subversion of Ford's and Sloan's earlier ideas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great man speaks, 10 July 2013
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This review is from: My Life and Work (Kindle Edition)
I wanted to learn more about Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company. How did he get into manufacturing cars ? What were his methods ? How did he become so successful ? This book contains the answers and a lot more.

Ford gives his opinion on just about every subject from manufacturing, industrial relations, to economics, politics and warfare. If you like to hear one of America's greatest giving his opinions then this is for you. I found it compelling reading. Henry would have approved that the book is available at a low price; read the book to find out why.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Total disappointment, 10 Nov 2012
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The book was not at all what I expected. I had already read this book but I wanted a nice copy to have and maybe read again in the future. It lookes like all the pages have been photocopied from another book and the writing on some pages is so distorted theat you can't understand it. I wouldn't recommend this particular copy to anyone, and certainly not for this price. I am extremely disappointed. This item is s**t!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard work, 11 Aug 2013
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This review is from: My Life and Work (Kindle Edition)
I've been reading this book for some time as its not what you'd call a page turner! Parts of the book were very interesting, but large parts of it were repetitive and frankly, dull.
Glad I've read it, but it was more of a chore than a pleasure.
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1.0 out of 5 stars GENERAL BOOKS LLC EDITION - PISPRINTS, TYPOS AND MORE MISPRINTS AND TYPOS...THE BOOK IS RUINED, 3 May 2014
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This review is from: My life and work (Paperback)
IF YOU WANT TO FIND OUT PRACTICALLY WHAT THE MISPRINT MEANS AND WHAT TYPO MEANS THEN READ THIS EDITION OF THE BOOK PUBLISHED BY GENERAL BOOKS LLC, rarebooksclub.com.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So relavent to toadys industry, 4 Mar 2008
By 
Mr. B. M. Fisher "Ben" (Hull, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Incredible. What Henry Ford lays out in this book is the sort of common sense that should be lurking at the back of every production managers mind. He speaks it as it is, he calls an idiot an idiot, literally. Some of his quotes are priceless and his ideas timeless.
Highly recommended, the implementation of the principles laid out in this book have increased my efficiency greatly and massively changed my ideas and the way I work, well worth the read. Amazing how something that was written almost 200 years ago is so real still today, it just goes to prove that the failings in industry today are not in the machinery, they are in the people.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 30 Nov 2014
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This review is from: My Life and Work (Kindle Edition)
Love of labour and rewarding labour is shown through Mr.Ford's hard work.Great piece!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 27 Dec 2014
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Tiring to read, some ok info. I would sooner buy this as an audiobook
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for everyone., 22 April 2008
By 
John K. Parnell (Millbrook Cornwall) - See all my reviews
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Its a great hsitory book. Even if you are not into cars, the details on Henry Ford are part of our lives and something we should all know about.
The way Henry ford did business was fantastic, he was a very man and today would be in the ranks of Richard Branson and Donald Trump. 5 out of 5.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, 4 Oct 2014
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This review is from: My Life and Work (Kindle Edition)
A man well before his time.
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