Friday, August 14, 2009

Five best: Detroit's car culture, and America's

Paul J. Ingrassia retired from The Wall Street Journal at the end of 2007, after 31 years. In 1993, as the Journal's Detroit bureau chief, Mr. Ingrassia won a Pulitzer Prize -- along with his deputy, Joseph B. White --for coverage of the prior year's crisis at General Motors. The two also won a Loeb Award. Messrs. Ingrassia and White co-authored Comeback: the Fall and Rise of the American Automobile Industry, published by Simon and Schuster in 1994.

His new book, Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry's Road from Glory to Disaster, is due out in January 2010.

Back in 2005 he named a five best list of books that capture Detroit's car culture, and America's.

One title on the list:
"Sloan Rules" by David Farber (University of Chicago Press, 2002).

Henry Ford invented mass production, but General Motors' Alfred P. Sloan invented mass marketing and rolled right past Ford. Sloan, who led GM from the 1920s to the 1950s, left no private papers. But David Farber's research reconstructs his achievements and failures alike--the most notable failure being an inability to see beyond GM's narrow institutional interest: Sloan stoutly resisted turning GM's factories over to weapons production during World War II. Sloan "was not much ruled by a moral vision or a sense of compassion for others," Mr. Farber writes, but his work brought prosperity to millions.
Read about the other four books on Ingrassia's list.

--Marshal Zeringue