Fordlandia – Greg Grandin

Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin lays out the history of Henry Ford’s vision to create a rubber plantation in Brazil on a land concession the size of Connecticut.  The book provides context by examining Ford’s mill towns in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, like Paquaming, his notion that men should have a balance between industrial work and farm labor, and his desire to return to a rural way of life which his Model T automobile and assembly line helped to destroy.

Grandin introduces us to a cast of rogues, visionaries, working men, and thugs involved in the creation of Fordlandia and the operations of Ford’s state of the art factory, the River Rouge.  We see the stubbornness and tyranny of Henry Ford, mixed with his wish to provide for the well-being of his workers and those in the Amazon, as well as his urge to promote an idea of America that no longer existed.

Click here to listen to a story on NPR or if you’re interested in seeing more images of Fordlandia and Belterra click here.

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