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Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production Of Hate

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How and why did this quintessential American folk-hero and pioneering industrialist become one of the most obsessive anti-Semites of our time-a man who devoted his immense financial resources to publishing a pernicious forgery, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion? Once Henry Ford's virulent media campaign against the Jews took off during the "anxious decade" follow How and why did this quintessential American folk-hero and pioneering industrialist become one of the most obsessive anti-Semites of our time-a man who devoted his immense financial resources to publishing a pernicious forgery, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion? Once Henry Ford's virulent media campaign against the Jews took off during the "anxious decade" following World War I, how did America's splintered Jewish community attempt to cope with the relentless tirade conducted for ninety-one consecutive weeks in the automobile manufacturer's personal newspaper, The Dearborn Independent? What were the repercussions of Ford's Jew-hatred extending deeply into the 1930s? Drawing upon previously-uncited oral history transcripts, archival correspondence, and family memoirs, Neil Baldwin answers these and other questions, examining the conservative biases of the men at the inner circle of the Ford Motor Company and disentangling painful ideological struggles among an elite Jewish leadership reluctantly pitted against the clout and popularity of "The Flivver King."


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How and why did this quintessential American folk-hero and pioneering industrialist become one of the most obsessive anti-Semites of our time-a man who devoted his immense financial resources to publishing a pernicious forgery, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion? Once Henry Ford's virulent media campaign against the Jews took off during the "anxious decade" follow How and why did this quintessential American folk-hero and pioneering industrialist become one of the most obsessive anti-Semites of our time-a man who devoted his immense financial resources to publishing a pernicious forgery, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion? Once Henry Ford's virulent media campaign against the Jews took off during the "anxious decade" following World War I, how did America's splintered Jewish community attempt to cope with the relentless tirade conducted for ninety-one consecutive weeks in the automobile manufacturer's personal newspaper, The Dearborn Independent? What were the repercussions of Ford's Jew-hatred extending deeply into the 1930s? Drawing upon previously-uncited oral history transcripts, archival correspondence, and family memoirs, Neil Baldwin answers these and other questions, examining the conservative biases of the men at the inner circle of the Ford Motor Company and disentangling painful ideological struggles among an elite Jewish leadership reluctantly pitted against the clout and popularity of "The Flivver King."

30 review for Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production Of Hate

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Saunders

    Neil Baldwin's Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate focuses on the auto tycoon's long-running campaign of antisemitism, which evolved from half-believed private ramblings to a systematic hate campaign run through Ford's private paper, The Dearborn Independent. The book offers a fair amount of biographical detail on Ford, showing him to be an odd mixture of industrial genius and intellectual dunce who chased fads and thought his every word deserved to laminated (like certain imbec Neil Baldwin's Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate focuses on the auto tycoon's long-running campaign of antisemitism, which evolved from half-believed private ramblings to a systematic hate campaign run through Ford's private paper, The Dearborn Independent. The book offers a fair amount of biographical detail on Ford, showing him to be an odd mixture of industrial genius and intellectual dunce who chased fads and thought his every word deserved to laminated (like certain imbeciles running our country today, except for the "genius" part). But Baldwin also examines how deeply ingrained antisemitism came in American culture, showing that Ford grew up reading textbooks that casually slurred Jews and how the era's evangelical revivalism and post-WWI Red baiting made it acceptable. Baldwin spends time on the outraged response by America's Jewish Community, the embrace of Ford both by America's far right and foreign fascists (the Nazis considered him a kindred spirit), his disingenuous apologies and his continued dealings with Nazi Germany up to 1945. It's a really chilling, and sadly relevant example how a plutocrat's private prejudices, writ large through media, business dealings and campaign checks, can poison an entire country's discourse.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rick Elinson

    I had heard rumors of Henry Ford's antisemitism, but Baldwin thoroughly documents how deep and destructive it was. The book is easy to read and instructive. Ford's overt antisemitic publication effort was 1920-1927. Thereafter, he remained an anti-semite, but kept it quieter. Nonetheless, Hitler kept the publications made under Ford's oversight on his table and had Ford's portrait on the wall. Ford received a special Grand Service Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle in 1938. Ford also I had heard rumors of Henry Ford's antisemitism, but Baldwin thoroughly documents how deep and destructive it was. The book is easy to read and instructive. Ford's overt antisemitic publication effort was 1920-1927. Thereafter, he remained an anti-semite, but kept it quieter. Nonetheless, Hitler kept the publications made under Ford's oversight on his table and had Ford's portrait on the wall. Ford received a special Grand Service Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle in 1938. Ford also brutally prevented unionization of the Ford plants 1937-1941, at the same time that the Ford plant in Germany was making vehicles for the Third Reich. Given all of this, why did not the Ford brand become anathema? Baldwin fleshes this out, but certainly Ford's grandson, Henry Ford II, played a critical role in the rehabilitation of the Ford name. If only some of Woodrow Wilson's relatives could have done something to prevent his name on buildings at Princeton from becoming controversial.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    Full of good information and a cautionary tale: the type of virulent, nativist, America-Firster type of prejudice is alive and well today, along with scurrilous mouthpieces like "The Dearborn Independent," although they've been replaced by men in nice suits and the vituperation has moved to the web. The big problem with the book though is editorial drift. There are big holes in the timeline as well as some lack of cohesion in the narrative towards the final quarter of the book. But the informatio Full of good information and a cautionary tale: the type of virulent, nativist, America-Firster type of prejudice is alive and well today, along with scurrilous mouthpieces like "The Dearborn Independent," although they've been replaced by men in nice suits and the vituperation has moved to the web. The big problem with the book though is editorial drift. There are big holes in the timeline as well as some lack of cohesion in the narrative towards the final quarter of the book. But the information, as well as the exposure of the snapshot in American history that is the 1920s and 1930s, is interesting, informative, and important to reiterate.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rich Izzo

    Proof that some of the most inventive minds are not immune to some of the basest prejudices and paranoid delusions toward those who seem alien to them.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Really boring. About a third into the book, I got it: Ford was antisemitic.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Wisty

    Not finishing for now due to lack of time, but as interesting as this has been thus far, I do agree with other reviews that the organization is a little all over the place and hard to follow. Way too many people are introduced at length and then never mentioned again! Might pick up again in the future.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Krueger

    long and repetitive. baldwin made too many assumptions and the connections between people he introduced seemed extremely distant. he would give ridiculously long biographies about individual people and then mention them and ford together once. did not enjoy!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Von kugelgen

    I’m not sure that a book like this that contains an obviously *important* message against hate speech and its chilling results can ever be an entertaining page-turner. But those who persevere through this meticulously researched book will likely discover new facets and relevance for this somewhat familiar tale of Ford’s anti-semitism. This is yet another reminder that hate speech, and endorsing more extreme versions through a lack of censure by those in power, cannot be retracted. I would say that I’m not sure that a book like this that contains an obviously *important* message against hate speech and its chilling results can ever be an entertaining page-turner. But those who persevere through this meticulously researched book will likely discover new facets and relevance for this somewhat familiar tale of Ford’s anti-semitism. This is yet another reminder that hate speech, and endorsing more extreme versions through a lack of censure by those in power, cannot be retracted. I would say that this is timely, but sadly there is hatred in every time, not just this one.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bill FromPA

    Having encountered a lot of examples of casual anti-Semitism in the various works of popular fiction I’ve been reading from the first half of the 20th century, I took the opportunity, finding this 2001 book at a used book sale, to read a direct study of prejudice in action. I was hoping to find from this book the origins of Ford’s anti-Semitism and the influence of the articles published as “The International Jew” in The Dearborn Independent, a Ford-owned newspaper. The book is not especially wel Having encountered a lot of examples of casual anti-Semitism in the various works of popular fiction I’ve been reading from the first half of the 20th century, I took the opportunity, finding this 2001 book at a used book sale, to read a direct study of prejudice in action. I was hoping to find from this book the origins of Ford’s anti-Semitism and the influence of the articles published as “The International Jew” in The Dearborn Independent, a Ford-owned newspaper. The book is not especially well organized. Baldwin jumps from summarizing an anti-Semitic article from The Independent in one paragraph to the views of its critics in the next with little transition. There are occasional multi-paragraph quotes describing Ford which are immediately followed by Baldwin’s text, leaving the reader to page to the notes in the back to discover just who was being quoted in the extended description, often giving no other context but a source and date. He does cover the material, however, and gives a good summary, not only of Ford’s role in American anti-Semitism, but also of the structure and attitudes of the Jewish-American community at that time and of anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi figures within the US in the 20s and 30s. On the origins of Ford’s anti-Semitism, Baldwin draws no specific conclusions. He details passages in McGuffey’s Readers, from which Ford learned to read and with which he had a collector’s obsession as an adult, and another book by Orlando J. Smith, “A Short View of Great Questions”, which Ford cited as a great influence on his thinking. He also implies strong influence from two employees who had close access and long relationships with Ford, E. G. Liebold and William J. Cameron, who both seem, in this account, to have influenced Ford with their own strong prejudice against Jews. In a 2003 afterword, Baldwin is more candid in stating his opinion: seeing Ford as a man who demanded control of everything in his life, the author thinks that Ford needed to find some agency to blame for those areas, such as war and financial fluctuations, which affected his life and business but over which he had no control; through cultural influences and the opinions of Liebold and Cameron, Ford determined that agency to be the Jews. I suspect there is often an element of self loathing in prejudices of this type. Henry Ford seems the quintessential apostle of the modern, if not its very God as “Brave New World” hints. Yet, he saw himself as a man of the land, a bucolic out of a Currier and Ives print. He spent a great deal of time collecting items from America’s past and re-creating his idealized America in Greenfield Village. Baldwin considers this streak of rural nostalgia ironic in a man who literally set the pace for the 20th century, but I think it may bear more on the book’s subject that its author admits. Just as the self image Ford was willing to reveal to himself and the public was that of a simple man who loves the land and the people who work it, he was aware of some counter force working against this world, a force for urbanization and absentee corporate ownership, and one drawing America into an involvement with the rest of the world. My feeling is that he could not admit to himself being a major part of the force that was destroying his idealized pastoral America, and so projected it unto a convenient Other. As for Ford’s influence, Baldwin seems determined to show that The Independent articles, which were quickly translated and reprinted in Germany, had an influence on the anti-Semitism of the nascent Nazi party. This seems ridiculous to me; I cannot believe that the Old World needed any guidance from the New as regards this particular vice. There is really nothing in this book on how Ford’s beliefs may have influenced the Gentile common man in the US. The examples Baldwin does cite, from both the US and abroad, indicate that the fact of Ford’s anti-Semitism probably was felt as lending support and justification to those, great and obscure, who were already inclined to such beliefs. I close with two very similar quotes from very dissimilar sources to show this effect: There is something of the artist in [Ford], and he is a fighter… If a man like that has discovered that there is a Jewish problem, then there is a Jewish problem. It is certainly not due to anti-Jewish prejudice. The younger generation looked with envy to the symbols of success and prosperity like Henry Ford, and if Henry Ford said that the Jews were to blame, why, naturally we believed him. The first is from G. K. Chesterton written after meeting Ford in 1922, the second from Baldur von Schirach, head of the Hitler Youth, at his war crimes trial in 1947. In his afterword, Baldwin mentions a book of the same tile by Albert Lee. He says he went ahead with writing his own book because he disagreed with some of Lee’s conclusions, and mentions specifically that Lee thought Cameron, who actually wrote much of “The International Jew” an unwilling hired pen. Baldwin documents Cameron’s later presidency of the Anglo-Saxon Federation of America, an organization that sold copies of “Protocols”.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    Evcellent history. The definitive work on the subject.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Klages

    On the whole, a disappointment. The book seemed, in all but a few preliminary chapters, to be just as much about the Jewish resistance to Ford's (and his employee's) anti-semitism. Baldwin opened the intriguing question of whether Ford was 'genuinely', perhaps better stated as 'independently' anti-semitic, or whether he had been led by several key employees to arrive at an unthinking, uncritical parroting of anti-semitic ideas. Strangely, "Henry Ford and the Jews" left me feeling that I certainl On the whole, a disappointment. The book seemed, in all but a few preliminary chapters, to be just as much about the Jewish resistance to Ford's (and his employee's) anti-semitism. Baldwin opened the intriguing question of whether Ford was 'genuinely', perhaps better stated as 'independently' anti-semitic, or whether he had been led by several key employees to arrive at an unthinking, uncritical parroting of anti-semitic ideas. Strangely, "Henry Ford and the Jews" left me feeling that I certainly did not know Henry Ford much better than I did before reading it, had gained little grasp about the influence of his anti-semitic publishing campaign, and perhaps most frustratingly, had little clearer sense of how Americans responded to his ideas. Overall, a frustrating book that left me with more questions and very few answers.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tom Darrow

    I was really looking forward to reading this book... after all, who doesn't enjoy a book that examines the image of a squeaky-clean all-American hero? This book, however, is about as dry and featureless as a saltine in the Sahara. I was really looking forward to reading this book... after all, who doesn't enjoy a book that examines the image of a squeaky-clean all-American hero? This book, however, is about as dry and featureless as a saltine in the Sahara.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    An important book to expand knowledge about american anti-semitism pre-WWII.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Scott Holstad

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shrike58

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ben Wilson

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Perweiler

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Rabon

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Toll

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rschnell

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chris MacDonald-Dennis

  23. 4 out of 5

    Heather Wilson

  24. 4 out of 5

    Terry Ducarme

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  26. 4 out of 5

    tlev 4242

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lane

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ron Noble

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ken Eichholz

  30. 4 out of 5

    P.A.

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