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on 11 June 2017
the edition is difficult to read (typos and large page) but the content makes up for it
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on 19 July 2017
Enjoyed it a lot.What a very interesting man was Henry.
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on 9 March 2017
I found this an absorbing read, although it called for a degree of concentration to follow the passages relating various statistics.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 August 2010
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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on 10 July 2013
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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on 23 January 2015
Nowhere in the book does it give the date of publication but it is clearly well before the 2nd World War! How right Henry Ford was about the influence of bankers. Once they control a business the business listed its way. And how right he was about lawyers who are certainly a self-perpetuating class only interested in their own selfish motives with no regard for justice. I fear that, in today's industrialised world, Henry Ford would have struggled to maintain his enlightened principles. Near the end of his book he makes a startling claim. To quote. "As a meter of fact, to be rich is no longer a common ambition. People do not care for money as money as they once did. Certainly they do not stand in awe of it as they once did".
If he were around today he would not recognise the greedy and envious world in which we live!
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on 11 August 2013
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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on 31 January 2017
I was interested in reading this after seeing it in on various 'best of' lists.
I expected this book to be more focused on Henry Ford and the development of the automobile and although it did cover this aspect nicely, what was so good about this book was the general outlook towards business and society.
The subjects covered were wide and could apply to many modern business and the role of work as a whole.
A very encouraging business read.
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on 7 October 2016
This book is really interesting for people who want to learn more about Henry Ford and his company. However, it's not really a book one wants to read in one go as it can be at times a bit slow and fails to capture the curiosity of the reader. However, this is an autobiography so maybe this doesn't need to be the case either. Solid book, but would not give it to someone as a present (except an avid Ford fan or somebody you don't like that much).
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on 2 March 2015
I have not finished reading this yet, but I can say that I am pleased I bought it. In the early pages alone the book contains many pieces of advice from one of the game-changers of the 20th Century. The basic story of his life is quite amazing: the way the motorcar was born, for instance. I expect to find that this book is one of the best I will read this year.
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