Cover image for Henry and Edsel : the creation of the Ford Empire
Henry and Edsel : the creation of the Ford Empire
Bak, Richard, 1954-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley, [2003]

Physical Description:
v, 313 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
1. Farmboy, tinkerer -- 2. The horse is gone -- 3. Rear view mirror : Ford the "automobileer" in 1900 -- 4. Who can't afford a fordmobile? -- 5. Hunka tin -- 6. The five dollar day -- 7. Rear view mirror : the crystal palace in 1914 -- 8. War on several fronts -- 9. Joy ride -- 10. Farewell, Lizzie -- 11. Chronicle of the neglected truth -- 12. The little man in the basement -- 13. Rear view mirror : the crown prince at work and at play -- 14. Airships and time machines -- 15. An invitation to organize -- 16. Bullets and frescoes -- 17. A matter of style -- 18. The overpass -- 19. Rear view mirror : battling "Fordism" in 1937 -- 20. A new social order -- 21. You know how fater is -- 22. Running on empty -- 23. Rear view mirror : the last years of the flivver king.
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Table of contents
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD9710.U52 F655 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
HD9710.U52 F655 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The epic struggle between a father and son and the building of a worldwide business empire
In this retelling of the story of the rise of Ford Motors, journalist Richard Bak offers a daring new perspective on the human drama that helped shape one of the world's great business empires. No dry corporate history, Henry and Edsel focuses on the epic battle of wills between the unyielding Henry Ford, his gifted son Edsel, and his "second son," the brutal and insidious Harry Bennet who rose from barroom brawler to become Henry's heir apparent. Bak dispels the common misperception of Edsel Ford as a weak and ineffectual manager, and explains that it was in fact Edsel's level-headedness and imaginative business solutions and that allowed the company to survive the many challenges to its survival in the first half of the twentieth century. Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary celebration of Ford Motor Company, Henry and Edsel is sure to be warmly received by history buffs and business readers.
Richard Bak (Detroit, MI) is a veteran journalist who has written widely on the Fords and the automobile industry.

Author Notes

Richard Bak is a veteran journalist who grew up in Detroit and now lives in Dearborn, Michigan. Bak, who worked on the assembly lines at Ford and Chrysler, has written widely on the Fords and the automobile industry

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Get a horse! onlookers shouted at Henry Ford as he drove his first car. Yet the Ford Motor Company, a multibillion-dollar empire, grew out of that original experiment. The automobile manufacturer greatly influenced American culture, using the assembly line to maximize production and profits while raising wages and lowering prices--and enabling his employees and the mass market to buy his cars. In describing the struggle between Henry and his only child, Edsel, the author weaves a tale of success and failure, intrigue and human frailty. Henry is painted as an eccentric, erring leader, while Edsel is depicted as a heroic and imaginative executive who withstood the cunning of Henry's designated successor (outsider Henry Bennett) to save the company. This book's publication coincides with the 100th anniversary of the company's incorporation and likely received the blessing of the current family management. With the reported years of rancor in the Ford family, we do not know how balanced Bak's characterizations of the major players are. --Mary Whaley Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bak (Detroit Across Three Centuries) gives new life to the well-known story of industrialist Henry Ford (1863-1947) and his rise from Michigan farm boy to the powerful head of an automobile manufacturing company. Deeply interested in anything mechanical, Ford left the family farm to become a machinist's apprentice, an engineer, a race-car builder and, in 1903, founded the Ford Motor Company. In 1908, the company produced the Model T, a simply designed car for the average family that was wildly successful and made Ford a millionaire. Responsible for implementing the assembly line in the mass production of cars, Ford also initially provided his workers with a living wage. In this engrossing history, the author traces the power grabs at Ford Motor, focusing particularly on the relationship between Ford and his only son, Edsel, both of whom spring to life here. Although Ford initially planned to have Edsel take over the company, he relied on the advice of Henry Bennett, the tyrannical security chief, who thought that Edsel was a weakling. According to Bak, Edsel was a cultured, talented man and an expert at designing cars. He did not share his father's hatred of unions that translated into repeated violence against organizers. Ford outlived his son, who died of cancer, a death many believed to have been hastened by conflicts with his father. Despite their problems, Ford loved his son and was deeply grieved by his death. Fully documented here (though not for the first time) is Ford's virulent anti-Semitism, which he expressed through articles in the Dearborn Independent. Photos. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Since the introduction of the Model T in 1908, Henry Ford and the automobile industry that he in large part defined have been a vital factor in the form and organization of American culture and of economic activity worldwide. Even though much has already been written about Henry Ford, Fordism, and the Ford Motor Company, this biography is a worthy contribution to that body of literature since it provides insight into the personal and family dynamics of arguably the most celebrated American family-run business. Bak, a journalist, describes the relationship between Henry and his son Edsel and the struggles of a large company besieged by both internal and external issues over several decades. As the author's narrative outlines, Henry Ford's personal and professional life was replete with opposing accomplishments and failings. Ford was a 19th-century man who transformed 20th-century industry but whose particular failings ultimately limited his own and his firm's legacy. Bak also describes how Edsel Ford's accomplishments and business skills have been largely underappreciated, and he investigates the bitterness and acrimony between Edsel and Henry Bennett, the man to whom Henry Ford had entrusted too much power and whose actions damaged the company's long-term progress and diminished Edsel's well-being. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers and undergraduate students. T. E. Sullivan Towson University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. v
1 Farmboy, Tinkererp. 1
2 The Horse Is Gonep. 18
3 Rearview Mirror: Ford the "Automobileer" in 1900p. 32
4 Who Can't Afford a Fordmobile?p. 38
5 Hunka Tinp. 51
6 The Five-Dollar Dayp. 64
7 Rearview Mirror: The Crystal Palace in 1914p. 78
8 War on Several Frontsp. 83
9 Joy Ridep. 106
10 Farewell, Lizziep. 125
11 Chronicle of the Neglected Truthp. 141
12 The Little Man in the Basementp. 154
13 Rearview Mirror: The Crown Prince at Work and at Playp. 163
14 Airships and Time Machinesp. 172
15 An Invitation to Organizep. 188
16 Bullets and Frescoesp. 200
17 A Matter of Stylep. 210
18 The Overpassp. 221
19 Rearview Mirror: Battling "Fordism" in 1937p. 231
20 A New Social Orderp. 238
21 You Know How Father Isp. 250
22 Running on Emptyp. 261
23 Rearview Mirror: The Last Years of the Flivver Kingp. 275
Postscript: Ford after Fordp. 284
Notesp. 293
Selected Bibliographyp. 302
Picture Creditsp. 305
Indexp. 307