By Greg Grandin
In 1927, Henry Ford, the richest guy on this planet, obtained a tract of land two times the scale of Delaware within the Brazilian Amazon. His purpose used to be to develop rubber, however the venture swiftly developed right into a extra formidable bid to export the US itself.
Fordlandia, because the payment was once called, soon grew to become the positioning of an epic conflict. On one aspect used to be the tilt, austere vehicle tycoon; at the different, the Amazon, the main advanced ecological process in the world. Indigenous staff rejected Ford's midwestern Puritanism, turning where right into a ribald tropical boomtown. And his efforts to use a process of regimented mass construction to the Amazon's range ended in a rash environmental attack that foreshadowed some of the threats laying waste to the rain woodland this 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
Confronted by the jungle, they didn’t turn philosophical. When they looked up in the sky and saw vultures, those rank, jowled carrion eaters that induced in other Amazon wanderers a sense of their transience, they thought of Detroit’s pigeons. Life in the dense river forest was hard on many of the Ford staff. Boredom could be overpowering, and a few succumbed to disease and death. Yet rather than provoking thoughts of morality or mortality, the Amazon tended to instill melancholy in Ford’s pioneers, a desire to re-create a bygone America, an America that the Ford Motor Company played no small part in dispatching.
A failure at most everything in life, Wickham enjoyed one reported success, the illegal spiriting of seventy thousand Amazonian seeds, gathered from a site not far from where Fordlandia would be founded, out of Brazil in 1876. These he turned over to London’s Royal Botanic Gardens, where they were nurtured into the seedlings used to develop Asia’s latex competition. Actually, Wickham’s real success was in gaining fame for stealing the seeds, for historians of rubber have subsequently questioned key aspects of his derring-do story.
Fordlandia, however, moved to rhythms set not by supply and demand but rather by the ups and downs of American life, which Henry Ford pledged to reform. Ford’s frustrations with domestic politics and culture were legion: war, unions, Wall Street, energy monopolies, Jews, modern dance, cow’s milk, the Roosevelts, cigarettes, alcohol, and creeping government intervention. Yet churning beneath all these annoyances was the fact that the force of industrial capitalism he helped unleash was undermining the world he hoped to restore.