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Dense but very insightful coverage of British Leyland from start to finish,
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This review is from: British Leyland: Chronicle of a Car Crash 1968-1978 (Kindle Edition)
Christopher Cowin has produced an excellent summary of British Leyland, from formation in 1968 to the eventual demise of Rover in 2005 (events past 1978 are covered, only not in as much detail). This is a book primarily for those interested in industry analysis, and the intricacies in running a large conglomerate, and less so for people primarily looking for details of cars or for the smell of petrol emanating from every page (for British Leyland products British Leyland - The history, the engineering, the people (illustrated) is closer to the latter brief). As such it is not overly long but very dense as a result - with lots to capture over the primary 10 year period, as well as lots of an aftermath to cover.
The book covers the genesis of British Leyland, the political and economic environment leading to it (as well as the thinking that produced it), the operation of the company in an annual format, six key vehicles laucnhed during the British Leyland time, the international divisions and then includes an extensive aftermath section, an analysis of factors leading to BLs demise (as well as a final executive summary of the book) and a bibliography / further reading section.
The author does not take the easy route of blaming either worker unrest, or poor quality, or political meddling on their own for the eventual downfall but really manages to bring across the whole intricate network of factors at play. At the same time he shows a very balanced understanding of why certain factors of 1960s and 1970s industrial Britain functioned the way they did and how they affected the automotive sector generally and BL in particular.
If you want an elevator pitch of why BL failed, the book is most certainly not it; still it does an excellent job of building understanding of the complexity of an automotive multinational and is in my opinion well worth the time to read and digest. While it is unlikely that there will be another company that is subject to the same pressures and demands any time soon, there is an extreme richness of insight, which can very well be transfered to related cases.
I would definitely recommend this book for both people generally interested in the automotive industry / manufacturing, as well as people interested in management more broadly. In my opinion this forms an excellent complement to My Years with General Motors and should be a component in any library on the automotive sector.