Fordlandia : The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City
by Greg Grandin

Overview -

The stunning, never before told story of the quixotic attempt to recreate small-town America in the heart of the Amazon

In 1927, Henry Ford, the richest man in the world, bought a tract of land twice the size of Delaware in the Brazilian Amazon.  Read more...

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More About Fordlandia by Greg Grandin

The stunning, never before told story of the quixotic attempt to recreate small-town America in the heart of the Amazon

In 1927, Henry Ford, the richest man in the world, bought a tract of land twice the size of Delaware in the Brazilian Amazon. His intention was to grow rubber, but the project rapidly evolved into a more ambitious bid to export America itself, along with its golf courses, ice-cream shops, bandstands, indoor plumbing, and Model Ts rolling down broad streets.

Fordlandia, as the settlement was called, quickly became the site of an epic clash. On one side was the car magnate, lean, austere, the man who reduced industrial production to its simplest motions; on the other, the Amazon, lush, extravagant, the most complex ecological system on the planet. Ford's early success in imposing time clocks and square dances on the jungle soon collapsed, as indigenous workers, rejecting his midwestern Puritanism, turned the place into a ribald tropical boomtown. Fordlandia's eventual demise as a rubber plantation foreshadowed the practices that today are laying waste to the rain forest.

More than a parable of one man's arrogant attempt to force his will on the natural world, Fordlandia depicts a desperate quest to salvage the bygone America that the Ford factory system did much to dispatch. As Greg Grandin shows in this gripping and mordantly observed history, Ford's great delusion was not that the Amazon could be tamed but that the forces of capitalism, once released, might yet be contained.
Fordlandia is a 2009 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.

  • ISBN-13: 9780312429621
  • ISBN-10: 0312429622
  • Publisher: Picador USA
  • Publish Date: April 2010
  • Page Count: 416

Related Categories

Books > History > Latin America - South America
Books > History > United States - 20th Century
Books > Business & Economics > Corporate & Business History - General

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A finalist for the National Book Award, Greg Grandin’s compelling Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City brings to vivid life an extraordinary chapter in the career of Henry Ford. During the 1920s, Ford bought land in Brazil’s Amazon River basin, hoping to turn it into a rubber plantation that would supply his car business. He also dreamed of founding a town there that would resemble the sort of company-based community he had helped to establish in the U.S. Over a span of 18 years, Ford worked to fulfill this vision, sinking big money into the town, which was equipped with a golf course, movie theaters and Cape Cod-inspired houses. But the failure of the rubber industry, coupled with the natives’ resistance to the prudish value system Ford promoted, led to Fordlandia’s eventual demise. Grandin’s account of Ford’s forced urbanization of the jungle is larger than life, with the scale and weight of an epic story.

Watch a video of Greg Gandin discussing Fordlandia on BookTV.


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