THE UNKNOWN IACOCCA by Peter Wyden

THE UNKNOWN IACOCCA

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

On the iffy pretext that Iacocca could be a 1988 presidential candidate, Wyden (The Passionate War, 1983; Day One, 1984; etc.) offers a deft, gossipy reappraisal documenting discrepancies between perceptions of Chrysler's vaunted savior and the realities of his career and character. While nice guys may not finish last in Motown, there are comparatively few in executive suites as major car-makers. With a notable lack of spite, Wyden makes it abundantly clear that Lido Anthony Iacocca did not make his way from Allentown, Penn., to the top of the heap in Detroit by being a good fellow. In addition to brains, drive, and a capacity for inspiring loyalty, the foul-mouthed auto executive has a knack for winning by intimidation. Paradoxically, Wyden learned from scores of interviews with friends, foes, and colleagues that the brash, confident public figure can be shy and uncertain in private. Ever conscious of his position and power, however, the egocentric Iacocca has almost limitless aspirations. But vaulting ambition has cost Iacocca dearly on several occasions. He overstepped the bounds and was sacked, first at Ford, then from the Statue of Liberty Advisory Committee. What fascinates Wyden, though, are the points at which lacocca's industrial-statesman accounts of setbacks and triumphs diverge from other recollections. To a significant extent, he succeeds in balancing the books on Iacocca with alternative and/or more detailed versions of turning-point events like the Ford firing. Insofar as possible (i.e., without cooperation from the subject), Wyden also sets the record straighter on Iacocca's political views, management theories, hypochondria, and personal life, recently enlivened by a seven-month marriage to a sometime airline stewardess 26 years his junior. Most of Wyden's disclosures and conclusions will not come as news to either auto-industry insiders or readers of Robert Lacey's Ford: The Men and the Machine. The thoughtful, impressively researched, and refreshingly evenhanded text nonetheless provides a revelatory warts-and-all portrait of an American icon that's deliciously wicked fun. There are 16 pages of black-and-white photographs (not seen).

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1987
Publisher: Morrow