Email this review


The third and final volume in the Ford triology maintains the high standards that made Ford: The Man, The Times, The Company (see p. 817, 1953) and Ford: Expansion and Challenge (see p. 520, 1957) a distinctive contribution to the recording of industrial America. These are the years that encompass the Depression and World War II up to the present, that see the decline of Henry I and the rise of Henry II amid the intrigues of empire after his father Edsel's untimely death. Here we see Ford facing the Depression as ""an aging David, without a sure weapon to fell his great adversary"". His friendly relationship with the New Deal caused a rift with the National Industrial Recovery Act which he would observe but not accept; his adamant attitude toward the unions with the bloody Battle of the Overpass in 1937, which gave way only to the coming of the CIO in 1941 under Edsel's benign influence are detailed. With the war came a gearing to war production and quotas, the adapting of a moving assembly line to aircraft production, and Edsel's death at 49 ""of stomach cancer, undulant fever, and a broken heart"". For central here is the battle for power as Ford in his waning years turned increasingly to Harry Bennett, backing him against Edsel, whose forbearance and progressive approach Henry interpreted as weakness. The damage to the organization laid at Bennett's door is immense. With the advent of Henry II and new leadership, the empire rose again, though not without set-backs such as the costly Ferguson suit which involved extended energy and funds. The life of the company overseas is included in this story of one man's shadow grown great -- and despite the immensity of the empire which took on its own life, that of the founder is given appropriate tribute.

Pub Date: July 30th, 1963
Publisher: Scribners