Fordlandia: the Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City

From The Guardian:

Book “History,” Henry Ford once declared, “is more or less bunk” – but he was not above trying to make a little bit of it himself. Not content with being the most celebrated car manufacturer of his age, he also attempted to found an American Midwestern-style city at the heart of Brazil’s Amazon River basin. It was intended to be the centre of a rubber plantation (the size of Tennessee) that would save the Ford motor company from having to import latex from Malaya or Sumatra. A bold decision, it ended up as one of the greatest failures of Ford’s career – a case history combining some of the tragic elements of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness alongside the naive innocence of Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.

Greg Grandin, a professor of history at New York University, has rescued the story of this gallant but doomed enterprise from the lumber room of legend. It is an extraordinary tale of pride and stubbornness, a struggle on behalf of capitalism by a man who was convinced that industrialisation had given him the strength and know-how to bring even a mighty river like the Amazon to heel.

More here.