Once Upon a Car: The Fall and Resurrection of America's Big Three Automakers--GM, Ford, and Chrysler (Anglais) Broché – 25 septembre 2012
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Descriptions du produit
Biographie de l'auteur
An award-winning business reporter with more than fifteen years of experience specializing in the automotive industry, Bill Vlasic is currently the Detroit bureau chief for the New York Times. The coauthor of Taken for a Ride, Vlasic is a winner of the Gerald Loeb Award for excellence in financial journalism and has been recognized for his reporting and investigative journalism by the Associated Press and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.
Revue de presse
“Compelling... a human approach to an industry that couldn’t be less human in scale... entertaining.” (Wall Street Journal)
“The book is extraordinary. Vlasic offers what will probably become the definitive retelling of the crisis that nearly felled America’s three carmaking icons.” (Financial Times)
“Once Upon a Car is the best book on the whole shebang that you are ever going to read... a critical history.” (Huffington Post)
“With almost anthropological precision, Once Upon a Car is a thorough and compelling account of the collapse of the domestic auto industry” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“A deeply reported, full-on narrative in the style of Barbarians at the Gate or Game Change.” (Chicago Tribune)
“Even with all the ink spilled on Detroit lately, Vlasic’s tale is as fresh as a new car… Vlasic says he wanted to write a fast-paced narrative, and he’s penned a page-turner in Once Upon a Car” (Fortune.com)
“Vlasic delivers a devastating account of auto industry arrogance, ignorance, and tragedy.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Terrific... better than most novels... truly fascinating.” (Free Lance Star Virginia)
“Vlasic enriches his journalistic attention to detail with the drama and pacing of a thriller.” (800ceoRead)
“Vlasic is a master storyteller whose prowess makes the absorption of many complex facts painless.” (strategy-business.com)
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Détails sur le produit
Commentaires en ligne
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
I've had the opportunity to have read pretty much every book that has been written about the Detroit car biz over the past decade,and I would put this one near the top for both storytelling,and an objective analysis of the ills and triumphs of the domestic auto industry.If you have even the slightest interest in the automotive business,and the people that run it,this book is a must read.
Another key insight a reader will glean is the role of labor unions and the power (right or wrong) in directly impacting the fate of the very companies that employ them. In a rare editorial comment, Vlasic points out that there is "nothing inherently better in American workers than...." and almost goes on to make the case of how unions may have been over-reaching.
Through the intertwined narration of the Big 3's trials and tribulations, a reader will be able to discern almost three unique management styles ranging from a benevolent leader who knew when to step down (Ford), a degree of detachment bordering on indifference. The stark contrasts in the management styles and personalities is a treat for any reader and could easily form the basis of leadership case studies. A neutral observer would end up having a more positive view of Bill Ford and to some extent both Bush and Obama (how Bush didnt want the incoming president to be faced with the crisis and how Obama imposed conditions on bailout). Ford comes out looking as a better-run company.
The narrative gives an view on the decision making processes at the CxO levels and in hindsight it is amazing how some of the managers managed to hang on to their jobs. While Vlasic does a remarkable job in detailing the reactions of the Big 3 to the increasing threat from imports, impact of gas prices and the collapse of the economy, the book falls short in describing the "redemption" - perhaps, it is still a work-in-progress.
Despite the fairly gloomy story of the Big 3's fall, the book is not without its moments of humor (especially discussing the now in-famous and infinitely parodied CEO-trips for the bailouts) and a gem of corporate speech attributed to Nardelli ("do vertical dives to really get the granularity and make sure we're coupling horizontally across functions so that we have a pure line of sight to the customer") Huh?
Overall, a very entertaining look into the reactions of the key decision makers of the Big 3 to the main trends impacting them (imports, gas, economy, politics, unions). For readers needing a more detailed look at the bailout, Overhaul: An Insider's Account of the Obama Administration's Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry is a must-read. Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry's Road to Bankruptcy and Bailout-and Beyond offered more insights than Sixty to Zero: An Inside Look at the Collapse of General Motors--and the Detroit Auto Industry, though both are fun reads in this topic.
Bill Vlasic has access to the top people in the auto industry and uses it well. He tells his story through people but doesn't get bogged down in their personal issues. His writing makes the other authors who have written about the recent history of the American auto industry look like amateurs.
In this book, Vlasic tells the full story of why Chrysler and GM imploded (and why Ford came close to doing so) when the Great Recession hit. He starts with General Motors, nicely outlining the very insular and out-of-touch culture of that organization then moves onto Ford's slow turnaround. He handles one of the highlights -- the breakup of DaimlerChrysler -- with enough drama to keep readers riveted. Vlasic fills out his tale-telling with interviews with many of the principals. For example, thanks to his positioning of Dieter Zeitsche with DaimlerChrysler (and Mercedes-Benz), I no longer think that the Germans were soulless creatures, determined to "Germanize" Chrysler into becoming Mercedes-Benz/US. He added color to these people whom most of us know from the press. Vlasic even lends a sympathetic brush to Rick Wagoner of GM -- though Wagoner was so hopelessly out of touch with his actions, he was, at least, humanized.
Why only three stars? A couple of things. First, I was a little taken aback at the portrayal of Alan Mulally as Ford's savior. Vlasic brushes by the fact that Ford was in just as much trouble as GM and Chrysler by 2008-2009. Certainly Ford didn't go to the government begging for a bailout, but it struggled. Still, because Vlasic was a cheering squad for Mulally, this really wasn't explored as much in depth as it should have been. I kept wondering, as I read Vlasic's comments about Mulally, if this guy could do no wrong. I thought it was a bit much.
Second, I thought Vlasic put too much blame on the union. I noticed another reviewer thought Vlasic championed the union, but I don't agree. Certainly it was legacy costs and healthcare benefits that were impacting the Big Three -- but how did the Big Three get to that position in the first place in which they had to foot the billions to fund healthcare benefits for retirees AND their families? One can point the finger at Ron Gettelfinger (who headed the UAW) and talk about the tough stance he had to take, but ultimately, if the Big Three had taken the stance some years ago NOT to continue funding those benefits, things might have been different. Vlasic implies the union was unwilling to bend at all. I agree that the union was a little too rigid in its stance, but blaming the entire fiasco on legacy costs is pretty one-sided.
These flaws were fairly large in my mind, which is too bad. I thought the book itself shed a lot of light as to why the U.S. auto industry struggled so much and why it ended up failing.
What you might also like about this book is that not only does Vlasic interview the top players and CEOs within the companies but he also interviews blue collar line workers to get and show their perspective on what was going during this major shake up in the American auto industry. What you receive is a well-rounded picture of what happened during this time in history.
The thing I liked the most about this book is that it is a professionally written book and is written like a story or a fly on the wall during the fall and resurrection of the Auto Industry. So many books I have read on the subject are just one person pontificating on his opinion of what happened. What Vlasic does is he tries to give a complete and unbiased account of what happened.
Some have stated that Vlasic is too pro-Ford, or too pro-Mulally. While this might be the case, Vlasic accurately shows how Ford avoided bankruptcy by betting the farm including all their assets and even the Ford logo to secure additional financing that was able to stave off bankruptcy. Of course this made Ford look like the smartest team in the room, but not even they could have predicted such a sour turn of events would happen during the Great Recession of 2008. So, yes, I agree that the book is pro-Ford and pro-Mulally, but I think Vlasic is giving credit where credit is due and that the praise is well-deserved.
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