Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: Fordlandia by Greg Grandin

Read for the fiction book club "Bookies" at CLPL for June 2013, but this is a non-fiction selection.

Although the actual events of what happened in the Amazonian jungle with Henry Ford creating "Fordlandia" was interesting, I did not like the book.  It was dry, extremely repetitive, and could have been accomplished in fewer pages.  It made for an O.K. discussion, with us talking about how inept the Ford men in the jungle were, the arrogance of imposing "Americanism" on different cultures, and why people blame Henry Ford for making America into a fast-paced consumer culture.

The beginning of the book is kind to Henry Ford and praises his inventiveness and determination to pay his workers good wages, but probably only as a means to sucker people into reading the rest of it (that is what one woman in our book club thought, and I probably have to agree with her).  The middle is terribly repetitive and dry, with the author rarely telling you what year it is while simultaneously jumping around in time.  This makes it confusing to know what happened in what order, since it is not chronological at all, and also makes it seem like they were in the Amazon for decades when they were only there a handful of years.  The end concentrates on the author blaming Henry Ford for everything bad that has ever happened with consumer culture for the last eighty years because of his interest in trees, soybeans, and assembly-line production.

My advice would be to look up this information somewhere else and save yourself about sixteen hours of reading severely dry and repetitive text.  I really had to force myself to finish this one, I was tempted many times to put it down and walk away from it forever.  I only finished it because it was for book club and that is saying quite a bit, I always finish books I have started, no matter what.

And so it goes...

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