Crash Course

Author: Paul Ingrassia
Rating: ★★★★☆

Paul Ingrassia has been covering American Automobile industry for more than 20 years. He and his colleague won Pulitzer Prize for their coverage on GM’s management turmoil in 1993. The book starts from the beginning of the 20th century, the excitement of the new era, the pioneering entrepreneurs whose names have became legend and popular brands today. Then the book briefly covers the unbelievable growth of the industry from earlier years to 60’s, GM, Ford and Chrysler are the high-tech companies of their days. They shaped the America in many aspects and brought countless innovations in terms of technology, design and business. With the importing cars from German and Japan, the Big Three have observed more challenging competitions, but more importantly different business and management cultures.

With all the up and downs in the past 100 years, the book spends almost half of its length to focus on the recent 10 years, blow-by-blow mis-steps and scene-by-scene story of the disappearance of Chrysler, bankruptcy of GM and survival of Ford. Besides a serial of mis-judgement and lack of focus, the author blames the relationship between management and Union as the main reason that leads to the crash – the Union has the monopoly power to negotiate sometimes ridiculous benefits undermined the bottom line of the company and force the management to move the job abroad.

Overall, it is very thorough book about the history of American auto industry. But one thing I don’t like very much is, although in retrospect many events in history do seem to be ironical, author’s foretelling style when describing these events is overly heave handed.

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