Curcio, Vincent. Henry Ford. Oxford Univ. May 2013. 240p. bibliog. index.
ISBN 9780195316926. $24.95. BIOG
Curcio (former general manager, White Barn Theater; Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius) provides here an in-depth review of the life of Henry Ford. Covering his life from Ford’s humble, rural beginnings to his rise as one of the world’s first billionaires, Curcio examines the many facets of the entrepreneur’s often contradictory persona. To a much greater extent than in Richard Snow’s new book, reviewed below, Curcio’s biography scrutinizes Ford’s public success, and explains that behind many of his accomplishments were inconsistent and incongruous actions. For example, Ford’s publically expressed pacifism contrasted with the substantial profits he made in the production of wartime apparatus. Additionally, although Ford was renowned for hiring immigrants and minorities, Curcio dissects his role in the publication of anti-Semitic periodicals by the Ford Motor Company during the 1920s. VERDICT Recommended for its insights into Ford’s darker side, but optional for libraries with other Ford studies such as Steven Watts’s The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century—Mary Jennings, Camano Island Lib., WA
Snow, Richard. I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford. Scribner. May 2013. 384p. bibliog. illus. index. ISBN 9781451645576. $28. BIOG
Snow (former editor in chief, American Heritage magazine), delivers a highly readable account of the life and times of Henry Ford. In a direct style, he depicts how Ford’s modest farming childhood and uneven early adult years strengthened his character and led to his unrelenting desire to create and produce an automobile that he believed would best fit American society. There have been many examinations of this industrial pioneer. Although Snow does address divisive issues surrounding the early years of the Ford Motor Company, such as its anti-Semitic publications and strong-arm labor tactics, his work focuses mainly on how Ford’s audacity and gumption ultimately led to his unparalleled success in the early years of automobile manufacturing. Vincent Curcio’s Henry Ford, reviewed above, spends more time on the problematic aspects of Ford and his beliefs. Snow clearly demonstrates how Ford’s imagination, perseverance and single-mindedness enabled him to overcome obstacles to perfect automobile assembly-line production and deliver an incredibly affordable vehicle. VERDICT Although not groundbreaking, Snow’s readable biography would be a good fit for young adults and newcomers to the Ford legacy. [Also forthcoming: The Quotable Henry Ford (Univ. Press of Florida. Mar. 2013. ed. by Michele Wehrwein Albion.—Ed.] —Mary Jennings, Camano Island Lib., WA