Hands-on projects add interactive extras to this judicious portrait of the industrial giant as a brilliant but flawed genius.
Though biographies of Ford are as mass-produced as, well, Fords, this one will leave readers with a particularly strong impression of how complex, even enigmatic, a man he was. Carefully citing sources for quotes and facts, Reis offers frank discussions of Ford’s rabid anti-Semitism (seen as an outgrowth of the industrialist’s hatred for Wall Street bankers in general), labor issues, autocratic management style, and shoddy treatment of his son, Edsel. He balances these with more positive notes on his subject’s lifelong pacifism (in peacetime), largesse to cultural and social institutions, dedication to paying his workers a living wage, and willingness to hire women and people with disabilities. As is typical for volumes in the …For Kids series, the 21 interspersed projects vary widely in quality, from make-work activities like designing a flag and a badge to instructions for fixing a (bicycle) tire and step-by-step strategies for getting a ride in a real Model T to, most ambitiously, disassembling and reassembling “anything.” These are largely distractions, though, to what is chiefly a perceptive character study of one of this country’s most influential and iconic figures.
Budding engineers and inventors as well as students of American history will find plenty of food for both thought and reflection here. (period photos, bibliography, index) (Biography. 11-13)