By Greg Grandin
In 1927, Henry Ford, the richest guy on the planet, received a tract of land two times the dimensions of Delaware within the Brazilian Amazon. His purpose used to be to develop rubber, however the undertaking speedily advanced right into a extra formidable bid to export the United States itself.
Fordlandia, because the payment used to be called, soon grew to become the location of an epic conflict. On one facet used to be the tilt, austere motor vehicle rich person; at the different, the Amazon, the main complicated ecological method on the earth. Indigenous staff rejected Ford's midwestern Puritanism, turning where right into a ribald tropical boomtown. And his efforts to use a method of regimented mass construction to the Amazon's range ended in a rash environmental attack that foreshadowed the various threats laying waste to the rain woodland this present day.
More than a parable of 1 man’s boastful try and strength his will at the flora and fauna, Greg Grandin's Fordlandia is "a quintessentially American fable" (Time).
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Additional info for Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City
1 Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover stoked the anger. The man who would soon be president believed America’s rubber supply to be industry’s choke point, more critical in many ways than oil. Petroleum was found in domestic fields in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and California, as well as in neighboring Mexico and Venezuela, within easy reach of US gunboats. But rubber came from a world away, from British, Dutch, and French plantations in Southeast Asia. Just as an increase in the demand for cotton in the nineteenth century reinvigorated America’s slave plantation system, the growing US auto industry’s thirst for rubber breathed new life into European colonialism, which had been weakened by World War I.
9 When the lunch was over, Ford held Liebold back out of earshot. ”10 Liebold threw himself into the task. He read everything he could on rubber, including reports supplied by the Department of Agriculture and Hoover’s commercial attachés stationed in Brazil. He also took a crash course in African history and fairly quickly concluded that Liberia, where Firestone, unable to rouse interest in his rubber collective, would soon establish a plantation, was too unstable to suit Ford’s interest. ” “Rubber should be grown where it originated,” Liebold concluded.
Managers eventually established sovereignty over the settlement and achieved something approximating their boss’s vision. But then nature rebelled. ” Fordlandia’s water tower was a rare exception. HUBRIS SEEMS THE obvious moral attached to Fordlandia, especially considering not just the disaster of its early years but also, even once order was established and the city was more or less functional, rubber’s refusal to submit to Ford-style regimentation. Yet surveying what remains of it left me with an almost elegiac feeling.