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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Affording Henry A Place In History
Henry Ford came from farming stock, was used to hard work and had a practical view of its value. According to Ford, 'Chop Your Own Wood and It Will Warm You Twice'. Unlike his siblings Ford did not like farm life regarding it tedious and inefficient. 'His displeasure with farm work...gave him a lifelong incentive to improve and alleviate the burdens of the farmer's toil'...
Published 18 months ago by Neutral

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3.0 out of 5 stars Knocked-up quickly on the assembly line
With an easy reading style and flow of story this is a fine casual and fairly informative read - and should be treated as no more than that.

The jacket has a lovely oxymoron in the blurb 'succinctly exhaustive' and by the end you are left to wonder just who decided that the book should race over Ford's life with little depth. It seems that no original research...
Published 17 months ago by the antiquary


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Affording Henry A Place In History, 24 Oct. 2013
By 
Neutral "Phil" (UK) - See all my reviews
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Henry Ford came from farming stock, was used to hard work and had a practical view of its value. According to Ford, 'Chop Your Own Wood and It Will Warm You Twice'. Unlike his siblings Ford did not like farm life regarding it tedious and inefficient. 'His displeasure with farm work...gave him a lifelong incentive to improve and alleviate the burdens of the farmer's toil'. This drew him towards the value of machinery in the improvement of production methods. He was taught to do everything to the best of his ability and pity others but not himself. He invented and repaired things on the farm and when presented with a watch on his thirteenth birthday immediately took it apart and reassembled it.

In 1879 when he was sixteen Ford went to live and work in Detroit, walking the six miles from Dearborn. He was employed by the Michigan Car Company but only stayed six days, losing his job when he quickly solved a problem which senior hands had worked on for hours. Ford, not one for expressing his emotions, ruefully recorded, 'I learned then not to tell all you know'. He moved to another firm where he learned to make and read blueprints. He took a second job at a jewelers to cover his rent. He later worked for a shipbuilding company and studied typewriting, bookkeeping and mechanical drawing in the evenings. All work and no play did not turn Henry into a dull boy. He was popular with girls, never touched alcohol or tobacco, which he regarded as poisons, married in 1888 and gave his wife control of the family finances.

Although he had settled on the farm Ford never lost his interest in the development of engines to replace horses. This occurred at a time when 'remarkable things were happening in the world of science, technology, and....transportation'. It took him twelve years of trial and error to translate his thoughts into practical application. His first step was to move to Detroit and work for the Edison Illuminating Company where he quickly rose from earning $45 a month on twelve hour shift to the position of the chief engineer at $1000 a month. His ability lay in his capacity for working out in his mind how things functioned in practice. This resulted in him rejecting both steam and electricity as efficient means of transportation.

The first internal combustion engine, using gunpowder as its explosive force, was invented by a Dutchman, Christian Huygens, in 1665. Throughout the nineteenth century there were technological advancements in France. French leadership of the industry collapsed in the face of American competition in the early twentieth century owing to a lack of cheap labour, market and physical space for automobiles. Ford carried out his first test of his 'horseless carriage' in 1896 funding the venture from his own money. Ford was not an immediate success and the Ford Motor Company which was incorporated in 1903, was his third attempt. He regarded failure as 'the opportunity more intelligently to begin again'. Until 1919 when he bought out his shareholders, Ford relied on other people's financial support. He also relied on publicity, his one blind spot being that he mistakenly believed it. Philosophically Ford became convinced there was an eternal universal mind that sent 'brain wave' messages to human beings. Matter and spirit were the same thing and reincarnation meant mankind 'was the product of what he had experienced in past lives and could improve himself by tapping into the universal wisdom at the heart of the world'. What was important was that mankind was attuned to intuit whatever message the universe was sending its way.

Ford disagreed with some of his partners who wanted to concentrate on the top of the price range vehicles arguing 'the way to make automobiles is to make automobiles like another automobile, to make them all alike'. Vehicles were to be simple, standard and cheap. He achieved this with the Model T and the development of mass production. The assembly line reduced the production time of each vehicle from twelve and a half hours to ninety-three man minutes. He used the savings from economies of scale to reduce the cost of his vehicles. He continued to modify the vehicle during its production lifetime. Ford surrounded himself with highly skilled, well paid, engineers and recognized the importance of paying assembly line staff comparatively high wages. He was egalitarian in his willingness to employ anyone who worked hard. The drawback was that by dividing assembling into small tasks work became soulless and dehumanizing which Ford compensated by reducing the working day and raising wages.

Ford's paternalism included requiring non English-speaking workers to attend group language sessions either before or after their shifts. Aware of the atrocious living conditions and social habits of many in Detroit, Ford's aim was to give his employees a chance at living better lives. In addition, he was flexible enough to recognize changes in the market, replacing sameness with variety towards the end of the 1920's. As he became wealthier, however, his self-confidence turned to megalomania resulting in the dismissal of those who had contributed to his success.

Ford hated war and attributed its persistence to conspiratorial forces such as bankers and Jews. In 1918 he bought a local newspaper which published a series of Antisemitic articles later consolidated into five volumes called 'The International Jew'. It sullied his reputation and, in the wake of a court case, led to an apology and a retraction of all the attacks on Jews. However, his anti-Judaism continued in private until 1945 when he viewed the liberation of the concentration camps. This so distressed him that he fled the room and shortly after suffered a stroke. It was said of Ford he achieved wealth but not greatness. Yet there was greatness in his democratic idealism, an idealism which was marred only by his wealth. Excellent book, five stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some much to know about Ford, 24 July 2013
By 
Keith Lawson (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Henry Ford (Lives and Legacies Series) (Kindle Edition)
One thinks they have a lot of knowledge about Ford - the assembly line, the Model T story - but this books reveals so much more. The politics, the anti-semitism yet an employer of Jews, the marketing, the union relationship. This is a warts and all biography that spells out the story of an age and one of its giants.
The book has been excellently researched and contains much detail and insight. It would be hard to gather all this information from trawling the internet, so thanks Mr Curcio for doing the hard graft for us. A fascinating read for the businessman, the industrialist, and the modern historian.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not just for the car enthusiast...., 25 Oct. 2013
By 
Book fiend "Enthusiast" (Petersfield, Hampshire) - See all my reviews
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Henry Ford was a legend in his lifetime and there can't be many people in the world who have not heard of him, despite the fact that he died 50 years ago. I am emphatically not someone who spends their time with my nose under the car bonnet nor even particularly minds what a vehicle looks like but, because Ford is a name we all grew up with and have very probably owned a Ford car, I felt it would be good to know a bit more about a man whose name resonates still.
This biography is a manageable length and is easy to read despite being an extremely American publication, not just in terms of the spelling but some of the phraseology. You have to remember all the way through that 'gas' is what we call 'petrol'! But the story is about a completely American man. That said, it is a remarkable story of a remarkable man who had virtually no education, was brought up on a farm and became a completely self-made industrialist on a vast scale. He was an extraordinary mixture of philanthropist and hard-nosed businessman with some completely inspired and brilliant ideas as well as some very wrong-headed opinions which nearly led him to disaster several times. He must also have had a very compelling personality to command such loyalty, and was also a huge champion of education and self-help for the under-privileged, employing handicapped and disadvantaged people at a time when no-one else would have dreamed of doing so. He gave liberally with one hand and at times took with the other pretty savagely and yet remained an American idol, nearly becoming a Senator and almost being persuaded to run for President. He had a hand in the most amazing amount of industries, many of which were a complete surprise to me and he should be remembered for many of his enterprises other than just cars. Well worth reading - and just the thing to give your Dad or brother for Christmas.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Knocked-up quickly on the assembly line, 21 Nov. 2013
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With an easy reading style and flow of story this is a fine casual and fairly informative read - and should be treated as no more than that.

The jacket has a lovely oxymoron in the blurb 'succinctly exhaustive' and by the end you are left to wonder just who decided that the book should race over Ford's life with little depth. It seems that no original research was carried out for this biography and Ford is kept at arm's length.

Unfortunately you do come across the odd hack history expression, such as 'It took another 18 years for Daimler and Benz in Germany to make one of these engines work in a vehicle.', which not only makes it sound like they were working flat out during that time on that particular problem, but also that they worked together.

And Curcio uses the affected and nonsensical 'BCE' instead of BC. Perhaps he just wants to be seen as 'with it', but any historian willing to wipe out history for the sake of new dogma makes you wonder what else he is willing to tamper with.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting view of a complex man, 9 Nov. 2013
By 
B. Bello (Stourton) - See all my reviews
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This was not my first biography of Henry Ford. The book is clearly well researched with detail I had not seen before. Mr Ford was a particular hero of mine from a young age and this book struck a discord with my view of him as a man, not necessarily a bad thing, but uncomfortable never the less. The points made by Vincent Curcio that upset my view were all around the failures Ford experienced latter in his life, things I had not read or known of before and in a way things I almost wish I did not know now. For me Mr Ford was always a man of decision and vision, to see him in the more flawed state portrayed in some stories with in the book left me a bit sad for the later years of Fords life.

Don't get me wrong, this is a good book and one well worth reading, you just need to be prepared to have your image of Henry Ford challenged. One last point, I have discussed this book more than any other I read this year which is a good indication of how it affected me.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Henry Ford Biography by Vincent Curcio, 3 Nov. 2013
By 
C Hicks "Salisbury Books" (UK) - See all my reviews
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An interesting and very readable biography about a complex and controversial man. Ford is known to so many from his extremely successful motor car business and his creation of the production line. This book reveals more about him and his hand in other businesses, his beliefs, politics, and so on. He was ahead of his time with many of his ideas and yet flawed in other aspects. Ultimately a biography well worth reading and not just for those who are car fanatics.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 17 Nov. 2013
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What an amazing character he was. Brilliant and ( occasionally) repulsive and a bit of an idiot sometimes.
His achievements were incredible though. He really was one of the makers of the twentieth century.
The book itself is well written and argued and for me at least contained just the right amount of detail, The author does a good job in providing evidence for his arguments.
Recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A single-minded man on a mission., 5 Dec. 2013
By 
AlanMusicMan (North Cornwall) - See all my reviews
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Henry Ford was not a man you would want to cross, not one to forgive. However, if you worked well with him or served him well, then he would look after you. He seems to have spent most of his life in pursuit of something. Whether it was his dream of making cars for everyman or his later passions for streamlining processes or his zeal outside of engineering, he was a remarkable and single minded man.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant biography; finished feeling it could have been longer, 23 Oct. 2013
By 
T. Richards (Kent) - See all my reviews
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Vincent Curcio is a historian with a stellar reputation, and in this biography he has produced a brilliant, detailed account of the lives of one of the most famous industrialists of all time.

It goes past Ford's reputation as a car maker, and examines in some depth the various 'behind the scenes' aspects of his life at the head of the Ford Motor Company. Ford was clearly a man of great contradiction, and the book airs much of the detail around Ford's employment of Jews and the spectre of anti-Semitism that dogged much of his life at the head of one of the world's largest car manufacturers. It's worth reading for this alone, as it's a fascinating read, but Curcio also explores Ford's political views, his opinions on providing equal opportunities, his relationship with the unions and, at the centre, his total overhaul of car production as the world knew it.

Most of all, Curcio draws open a curtain on the life and times of this industrial period and place. Detroit seems to have been in a state of decline for decades now, but this book provides a snapshot of an era when Dearborn was thriving, and Curcio has captured this feeling of activity in vibrant detail with a fair, well-researched look at the man at the centre of it all.

There is no doubt that Curcio is one of the foremost experts on the US motor industry, and my only comment - unfair though this may sound - is I felt he had been clipped slightly in his scope for the biography. I was left with the impression that he could, quite happily, have made the book twice as long. This is not a big criticism, and I'd still recommend this biography wholeheartedly - it is one of the most even-handed I've read, and it's choc-full of well-presented information that will prove to be rich learning material for anyone interested in Henry Ford.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great book, 31 Oct. 2013
By 
JB (Maidstone, Kent United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Henry Ford (Lives and Legacies Series) (Kindle Edition)
This is a really readable book on a very complicated man.I couldn't decide whether I looked or loathed Henry Ford but you can't ignore the fact that the man was a genius with a dark side.
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