Fordlandia, By Greg Grandin
Sunday 24 October 2010
In 1927, Henry Ford purchased 5,000 square miles of Brazilian rainforest, ostensibly to found a rubber plantation. But his motives were grander than that: the industrialist-philosopher conceived of "Fordlandia" as an oasis of civilisation in the jungle, a model city underpinned by his puritan values. It was, perhaps inevitably, a catastrophe – the community was riven by social unrest, the rubber trees ravaged by insects and disease – and abandoned in 1945.
Greg Grandin's study is strikingly well-written, and full of fascinating anecdotes that evoke the futility of Ford's enterprise. The centrepiece is a chapter in which a company manager pursues two errant employees upriver into the wilderness: it's a story that could sustain a whole book of its own, echoing Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo.
The author never overstates the symbolic significance of Fordlandia, however. This story could have been reduced to a parable of how brute nature will inevitably foil humanity's efforts to subdue it. But as Grandin states, this would ignore the fact that the Amazon is increasingly fragile, threatened by a deforestation that makes Ford's project seem relatively benign.
A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend
A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The way the police have treated Cliff Richard is completely unacceptable
- 2 Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
- 3 Michael Brown shooting: Ferguson police shoot and kill second young black man
- 4 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 5 Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermesiter and vodka
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness
JK Rowling releases new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing Celestina Warbuck, the 'Singing Sorceress'
Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad and potatoes for Jagermesiter and vodka
The funniest joke at Edinburgh Fringe 2014: Tim Vine wins for second time
Kate Bush: Previously unseen photographs reveal new side to comeback star
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head