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Publisher's Summary

At the end of 2008, Ford Motor Company was just months away from running out of cash. With the auto industry careening toward ruin, Congress offered all three Detroit automakers a bailout. General Motors and Chrysler grabbed the taxpayer lifeline, but Ford decided to save itself. Under the leadership of charismatic CEO Alan Mulally, Ford had already put together a bold plan to unify its divided global operations, transform its lackluster product lineup, and overcome a dys­functional culture of infighting, backstabbing, and excuses. It was an extraordinary risk, but it was the only way the Ford family - America's last great industrial dynasty - could hold on to their company.

Mulally and his team pulled off one of the great­est comebacks in business history. As the rest of Detroit collapsed, Ford went from the brink of bankruptcy to being the most profitable automaker in the world. American Icon is the compelling, behind-the-scenes account of that epic turnaround. On the verge of collapse, Ford went outside the auto industry and recruited Mulally - the man who had already saved Boeing from the deathblow of 9/11 - to lead a sweeping restructuring of a company that had been unable to overcome decades of mismanagement and denial.

Mulally applied the principles he developed at Boeing to streamline Ford's inefficient operations, force its fractious executives to work together as a team, and spark a product renaissance in Dearborn. He also convinced the United Auto Workers to join his fight for the soul of American manufacturing.

Bryce Hoffman reveals the untold story of the covert meetings with UAW leaders that led to a game-changing contract, Bill Ford's battle to hold the Ford family together when many were ready to cash in their stock and write off the company, and the secret alliance with Toyota and Honda that helped prop up the Amer­ican automotive supply base. In one of the great management narratives of our time, Hoffman puts the reader inside the boardroom as Mulally uses his celebrated Business Plan Review meet­ings to drive change and force Ford to deal with the painful realities of the American auto industry.

Hoffman was granted unprecedented access to Ford's top executives and top-secret company documents. He spent countless hours with Alan Mulally, Bill Ford, the Ford family, former executives, labor leaders, and company directors. In the best-selling tradition of Too Big to Fail and The Big Short, American Icon is narrative nonfiction at its vivid and colorful best.

©2012 Bryce G. Hoffman (P)2012 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"For those interested in the recent political interventions and maneuvers in the auto industry, this book provides a fly-on-the-wall view of the meetings and behind-the-scenes deal making necessary to revive an ailing giant." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Michael
  • Newmarket, ON, Canada
  • 10-07-12

The best business book I ever read

I have thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though I am not a car guy and, as a result, am totally bored by discussion of car brands and part details.

Two reasons why this book is so great:
1.It is not a book about another business or industry failure -> It details how to run and save a business, in pretty granular terms.
2.You find yourself rooting for the major players to succeed…I found the insights in the main players fascinating

Bryce Hoffman – you did an outstanding job…this is a work of art you should be extremely proud of.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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Great read!

True leadership! Able to do without the aid of government funds … will try to by a Ford next time!

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Why I own a Ford, Actually 2 of them

I thought I wold listen to this book since business books is not my favorite genre. This book does a great job of explaining how Alan Mulally did a great job in saving Ford motor company. The basic lessons in the book are that

-Eventually every big organization will be complacent

-Board of directors are mostly in it for the money and prestige and are mostly clueless

-An organization that does not tolerate failure will eventually fail

-When you surround yourself with "yes men" you are disengaged from reality

-Sometimes smaller is better, Being big for the sake of being big is foolish.

The basic problem with Ford at the time of arrival of Mulally is that the company was out of touch with the market. Most of the top managers did not own or drive a classic "Ford" preferring the luxury brands of Jaguar and Range Rover which the Mulalay dumped as Ford divisions. He makes them drives Fords and even competing brands. When they do, they realize that at the time Fords kind of sucked. Ugly, poor quality, and no fun to drive. Most of America had come to that realization years earlier. No one was ever held accountable for failure at Ford because no one ever failed. He implements a management tracking system that makes it difficult to hide problems such as delays in car launches, quality issues, and cost problems. At one point he asks how many models of cars the company sells. Nobody knows so he goes to all the company web sites and prints out a picture of every model and shows it to the board. There were over 400 different models.

Its a good listen if you like cars and business. It does get tedious at times but you can just skip forward

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Business At Its Best

If you are in business, any of your children or friends, get this book and after you finish, send copies to the people that matter in your life...the book is about ethical behavior and doing things the right way, even though your competition is lining up for government hand outs.."I doubt that I'll ever buy a G.M.(government motore) or a Mo Par ever again

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Good Story, but grating Narrator

This book does give an interesting overview of the state of the US auto industry at the beginning of the financial crisis, and the ways that Alan Mullaly pulled it out of the doldrums, but the narrator sounded so much like a used car salesman that it made the book sound like a pitch for hiring Mullaly, and it became grating as I came to to the conclusion of the book. You might want to opt for the print version of this one.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Gerardo
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 10-15-14

Interesting and Insightful - Must read (listen)

This audiobook is detailed, well researched and very insightful. It tells a story not only of what could be the biggest turnaround in business history but it also paints a picture of the automotive industry and the economic crisis of 2008.

This is one of those books that should be required reading for anyone pursuing an MBA or anyone considering a business leadership position. It tells so many useful stories on aspects as varied as marketing, finance, building trust, strategy and focus, and so on.

The narrator is clear and uses proper tone. The story has just enough detail to the point it is not boring. Definitely recommended.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Great story about an awesome company

Detailed account of how Ford Motor Company survived and thrived. Great story about a great leader.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great content!

This was an inspiring account of how capitalism can work, when intelligent and transparent leaders are at the helm.

The narrator in this book seems to have bouts of multiple personality disorder, as he reads 3/4 of the book in a certain style, quotes people in that same style, then suddenly starts speaking with a British and other accents. Strangely inconsistent.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A truly inspiring book!

This book provides tremendous insight into how Ford Motor Company changed into the innovative company it is today vs a behind-the-competition company it was before. My son had worked for Ford before the turnaround and was quite vocal (in not a positive way) about company policies. This book showed how Alan Mulally was able to overcome these entrenched policies and personnel to produce a line of cars which is both innovative and what the public wants as well as an advertising campaign to successfully promote it. I rarely write reviews of books but was so impressed with this one that I had to let potential readers know that it is a well worth the listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Outstanding

One of the best management books I've read. This story of the saving of Ford holds your attention from the 1st chapter.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful