The book group will be reading Fordlandia by Greg Grandin Wednesday September 27th at 6:30pm. Copies are now available in the library!
In 1927, Henry Ford purchased a tract of land in the Brazilian Amazon roughly the size of Connecticut, with the intention of growing rubber for his automobile factories. During the next eighteen years, Ford invested a quarter of a billion dollars (in today’s money), but Fordlandia, as the place came to be known, was a spectacular failure, its plantations supplying less than one per cent of the world’s latex. In spite of this, the town had a golf course, movie theatres, Cape Cod-style shingled houses, and sidewalks dotted with fire hydrants. A “work of civilization,” in the words of one American associated with the project, it was Ford’s attempt to export the small-town virtues that his own assembly lines were breaking down in the United States. Grandin gives an exhaustive account of the project’s failure and of the light it sheds on Ford; disastrously, he was reluctant to hire native naturalists, who could have best advised him on growing rubber in the region.