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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fordlandia - Dual Book Review

Author's Collection
Here are 2 books based on Henry Ford's rubber plantation experiment in Brazil.

We will start with the one on the left- Fordlandia, a novel.  Written by Eduardo Sguiglia in 1997 and translated from Spanish by Patricia Duncan in 2000. This is a novel in the purest sense of the word, however it is based on Ford history and Fordlandia. As you read this book, you can tell Sguiglia did his homework and collected facts, but used the facts in different time frames. It works well and makes the book a pleasant read. 245 pages long, I finished this in an evening and have since read it a couple more times.

The story starts out with the plight of an Argentine who was hired by Ford to help solve labor problems at the plantation. He describes the interview process, the voyage to Fordlandia, interactions with the various folks during the journey. 

Once at the plantation he goes on to describe the living & working conditions and the day to day activities. I won't spoil the rest of the book for you, but I highly recommend this volume. Even non Ford junkies will enjoy reading it.  Just keep in mind that it is a work of fiction and you will see as you read it. This book has been recently reprinted, but I have not had the chance to see a reprinted copy to know if it differs from the editions I have in my collection.

The second book is a recent output by Greg Grandin. This edition was published in 2009 and you should be able to find paperback copies in your local bookstore if you desire that sort of thing. 

I found this book to be well researched and shed some new light on areas previously left in the dark. Like any book of this nature there are a few errors but they are small and do not detract from the book in general. this book is 372 pages long with well documented sources & notes. This book also goes into detail Ford's second Brazilian rubber project known as Belterra.

All in all I recommend both books for your Ford book shelf.