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.
Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandalbooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
Game of Thrones actress begs for 'other princess work' after Myrcella Baratheon part is recast
New Netflix releases: Films and TV shows coming August 2014
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy
Star Wars Episode 7: Simon Pegg hints at role
Palestinian artists transform smoke-filled Gaza into symbol of resistance
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- < Previous
- Next >