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Fordlandia

Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City'

416 pages

By GREG GRANDIN

Ford tried and failed to build an ideal American society on an Amazonian rubber plantation. (Metropolitan/Holt, $27.50.)

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, June 2009: Proving that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction, Fordlandia is the story of Henry Ford's ill-advised attempt to transform raw Brazilian rainforest into homespun slices of Americana. With sales of his Model-T booming, the automotive tycoon saw an opportunity to expand his reach further by exploiting a downtrodden Brazilian rubber industry. His vision, the laughably-named Amazonian outpost of Fordlandia, would become an enviable symbol of efficiency and mark the Ford Motor Company as a player on the global stage. Or so he thought. With thoughtful and meticulous research, author Greg Grandin explores the astounding oversights (no botanists were consulted to confirm the colony's agricultural viability) and painful arrogance (little thought was paid to how native Brazilians would react to an American way of life) that hamstrung the project from the start. Instead of ushering in a new era of commerce, Fordlandia became a cautionary tale of a dream destroyed by hubris. --Dave Callanan



Discussion Questions:

1. What first prompted Henry Ford in 1927 to buy the plot of land in Brazil? Did his motives change over the years? If so...into what?

2. Describe Ford's capitalistic ideal. What did he envision for Brazil, and how did he attempt to impose it on the Amazonian jungle?

3. How was that capitalistic ideal slipping away from him at home in the US? What forces had Ford unleashed in this country that undermined his core beliefs in a humane, moral order?

4. Talk about the many forces at work against Ford's vision in Brazil? What happened? Who—or what—was at fault in the project's many failures? Was failure inevitable?

5. Describe Henry Ford. Was he an idealist, an autocrat, an elitist or friend of the working man?

6. How did Ford's attempt 80 years ago, to convert the lush, naturally abundant Brazilian landscape into industrial agriculture, foreshadow today's destruction of the rainforest?

7. In what way might this account be seen as a parable for 21st-century attempts at globalization? Are there lessons to be learned? Or would that be reading too much into what is a single moment in history?

(Questions by LitLovers. )



Join or login to comment.

  • A former member
    A former member

    Slow, slow reading...did re-write history as I knew it.

    September 27, 2014

  • Jennifer

    Ladies, here is the ice cream recipe I promised to post - enjoy! (You can leave the vodka out, it makes no difference to the final ingredient).

    nutella ice cream
    1/3 cup nutella
    1/3 cup sugar
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    1 cup milk
    1 tbsp vodka
    Beat together the nutella, sugar, heavy cream, milk and vodka until blended evenly. Churn into ice cream according to your ice cream machine’s directions, and then freeze for four hours before serving. The ice cream lasts about a week in the freezer.
    If you don't have an ice cream maker, pop the bowl of blended ingredients in the freezer and after 20 minutes, stir it; then wait 20 minutes and stir -- repeat until it's creamy:-)
    It is so good!

    1 · September 26, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      But the vodka makes it sound so much for exotic! Thx for sharing 8-)

      September 27, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    My Mom died this evening and I will not be attending any meetings for a few weeks.

    September 22, 2014

    • Eileen

      So sorry for your loss Cynthia.

      September 22, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I just couldn't get through this book. See you next month.

    September 22, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I cannot believe it but I had forgotten the High Holy Days dates etc. See you next time.

    September 22, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I will not be able to attend, look forward to the October meeting!

    September 20, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      You are on the waiting list so you need to change your RSVP to not attending

      September 20, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Looks like we have a couple of cancellations. Marilyn Vice is not attending so that should pop me off the waiting list onto the attending list - how do I effect that?

    September 20, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Marilyn is on the waiting list so a spot did not open for dolly

      September 20, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I will be traveling for business.

    June 23, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Wish you had room before the September meeting -- that's a little ways off :)

    May 8, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Get on the waiting list. We always have a cancellation the day of our meeting. And plan on attending

      May 8, 2014

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