Book Reviews: Start Your Engines!

gm assembly line - image courtesy bentley library, univ. of michigan

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500 race. I grew up down the street from the Speedway track and I can still remember the great drivers from my childhood, Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, the Unsers. .

Beyond entertainment and transportation, the automobile was central to the lives and livelihoods of people from the industrial Midwest. Family destiny was entangled in the ups and downs in Detroit. My father felt that the industry was the ticket to the middle class and he pushed his children into automotive engineering. Only one child followed his advice, my younger sister, but by then the world changed and her experience has been laced with disappointment.

So goes the entire American auto industry. Here are five excellent new books in the Ford Library talk about the industry, in good times and bad.

Crash course : the American automobile industry’s road from glory to disaster, by Paul Ingrassia.

Pulitzer Prize winning author takes a deep look into the turning points in the history of the U.S. auto industry, highlighting the self-destruction of the automakers, their dysfunctional corporate culture and perverse union practices.

At the crossroads: middle America and the battle to save the car industry, by Abe Aamidor and Ted Evanoff.

The story of the auto industry crisis and its mark on small towns in Indiana, on the people who work in an industry in economic decline and who live in communities that are fading.

Sixty to zero: an inside look at the collapse of General Motors – and the Detroit auto industry, by Alex Taylor III.

The story of GM’s decline over forty years due to executive inaction, missed opportunities, market missteps, and an inability to complete major initiatives.

Why GM matters: inside the race to transform an American icon, by William J. Holstein.

Key players at GM describe how the company has retooled its operation worldwide to survive competitively and why saving GM is critical to the US economy.

Overhaul: an insider’s account of the Obama administration’s emergency rescue of the auto industry, by Steven Rattner.

Obama’s car czar chronicles the bankruptcies, reorganizations and bailouts of GM and Chrysler, detailing the negotiations to convince management, unions and creditors to accept the plan.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

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