Labor Matters: A Tribute to Auto Workers
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Additional Resources:
Auto Industry History


Chandler, Jr., Alfred D., Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of American Industrial Enterprise (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1962)

The leading historian of business explains Sloanism as a business strategy in the rise of General Motors, and analyzes Ford’s failure to adapt successfully to the new industrial environment created by Sloan at GM. Standard Oil and Sears, Roebuck are two other firms treated by Chandler in this book.

Flink, James J., The Automobile Age (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1988)

A history of the development of the international automobile industry from its origins through the mid-1980s.  This book places the U.S. industry in an international context.

Gelderman, Carol, Henry Ford: The Wayward Capitalist (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1981)

An interpretive essay on Henry Ford from a New Left perspective; it is part of a huge literature on the political economy of Fordism which has been dominated by Marxists since the 1950s.  This book is very readable.

Iacocca, Lee (with William Novak), Iacocca: An Autobiography (Bantam Books, New York, 1984)

No more or no less self-serving than comparable autobiographies, this one gives endless information of the author’s days at Ford Motor Company. When read in conjunction with Robert Lacey’s book, one can make a more balanced assessment of Iacocca’s contributions.

Lacey, Robert, Ford: The Men and the Machine (Little, Brown, Boston, MA, 1986)

The best of the popular histories of the family and the company.  Covers no new ground on the early history of the firm, but details the conflict between Lee Iacocca and Henry Ford II in the 1970s.  The product line of the company receives little attention after the Model T until the Mustang. Good stories on the family members, though some approach gossip.

Nevins, Allan, Ford: The Times, the Man and the Company (Charles Scribner’s, New York, 1954)

A chronicle of Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company until 1915. It is the first of three volumes on the family and the firm.   Nevins is the only historian who has ever been given full access to the company’s records and the Ford family’s papers. It is almost an “authorized” history.   Extensive coverage of the early years of the company and its product line.  Very good on Ford’s overseas ventures and products.

Nevins, Allan (with Frank E. Hill), Ford: Expansion and Challenge, 1915-1933 (Charles Scribner’s, New York, 1954)

Continues the saga of the company and Henry Ford from World War I to the depths of the Depression in the U.S. Mostly a chronicle of Henry Ford’s emergence as an international figure.  The development of The Rouge receives extensive treatment and analysis. The book gives excellent treatment of Henry Ford’s personal response to the New Deal, industrial unionism, and the market success of Chevrolet and Plymouth, but too little attention to the increasingly chaotic management of the company.

Nevins, Allan (with Frank E. Hill), Ford: Decline and Rebirth, 1933-1962  (Charles Scribner’s, New York, 1963)

This volume completes the chronicle.  It is the least critical of the three volumes. The personalities of Henry Ford, Edsel and Henry Ford II are highlighted.  The company’s problems are blamed on Henry the Elder and Harry Bennett. Henry II comes in for a lot of praise as a forward-looking businessman.  The organizing drive by the UAW, as well as the production crisis of B-24s at the Willow Run plant, are handled better elsewhere.  But it is the best source on Ford overseas operations before World War II.

Rae, John B., The American Automobile Industry (G.K. Hall and Company, Boston, MA, 1984)

A brief overview of the history of the U.S. auto industry from its beginnings through the 1970s.

Sinclair, Upton, The Flivver King: A Story of Ford-America  (Charles H. Kerr, Chicago, IL, 1987); first published in 1937 by the UAW.

A tract written by Sinclair for the UAW in support of the union’s organizing drive against Ford Motor Company.  It is fiction, but the characterization of Fordist manufacturing practice, with its triumph of scientific management of production, is notable in the literature on Ford Motor Company.

Sward, Keith, The Legend of Henry Ford (Holt, Reinhart & Winston Co., Inc., New York, 1948)

The classic muckraking version of Henry Ford’s life and times.  The text consistently highlights the darker side of Ford’s personality and business practices.  The result is a portrait of Henry Ford as an unprincipled businessman.  Makes for lively reading. Allan Nevins takes issue with much of Sward’s interpretations of Ford.

World Wide Web Resources

Henry Ford Museum
Previews of exhibits and artifacts (photos and descriptions) featured at the Henry Ford Museum. Includes a timeline that looks at the lives of the five generations of Fords in the 20th Century and a Showroom of Automotive History.

Henry Ford And The Model T
Sample material from Forbes, Greatest Business Stories of All Time, about Henry Ford’s entry into the automotive industry and the life cycle of the Model T.

Model T Ford Club International
Stories and historical information about the Model T provided by the Model T Ford Club International.  Includes original advertisements and prices for the Model T.

Taylorism and Fordism in Modern Times
A movie review of Modern Times starring Charlie Chaplin.  It is a satire about Taylorism and Fordism in society.

The Henry Ford Estate – Fair Lane
History of Fair Lane Henry Ford’s Estate in Dearborn, Michigan. It includes details of the estate’s building and upkeep, and restoration and preservation, along with images of the estate.  Includes a virtual tour of the estate.

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Last Updated: 10/12/2005