“I Invented The Modern Age” is a full life biography of Henry Ford from his childhood through his long life with his triumphs and failures, strengths and weaknesses. It is about a man, his vision, his work and how he changed America.
Henry Ford grew up in an era when America was changing and he both effected and was affected by the change. Ford, like Eddie Rickenbacker (see my review of “Enduring Courage”) came of age when experimentation with engines captured the minds of the imaginative. Ford would see a machine and take it apart, see how it runs, tinker with it, make it better and adapt it to new uses. His job with the Detroit Edison Company gave him the income to support his research. This led to engines that powered the cars and that made America mobile. Ford’s unique contribution was mass production enabled by the assembly line. His partnerships with the Dodge brothers and others turned a factory into an industry. Ford successfully made the transition from technical developer to industrial mogul as he spread rumors to depress the price of Ford stock which he then secretly bought up. His inflexible adherence to the Model T pulled Ford down to second place among American automobile manufacturers.
This book also tells the story of Henry Ford the man, both good and bad. The dedicated family man is contrasted with the notorious anti-Semite and the pacifist and naive peacemaker with the war producer (but only for the United States) he became,. After saying “History is bunk” he amassed an extensive collection of historic buildings and artifacts at Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum.
Author Richard Snow has presented this unique tale in a way that is both technical and appealing to the general audience, informative and inspiring but without whitewash. I enjoyed listening to it and found my interest in Ford and his life and company piqued. I plan to read more about them. Start here and follow where it leads.