"One element that distinguishes Baldwin's study from previous works and makes it especially valuable is his discussion of the actions and reactions to Ford's antisemitism by American Jewish leaders, notably Louis Marshall, Cyrus Adler, Jacob Schiff and Ford's Detroit neighbor and friend, Rabbi Leo Franklin."
"...Henry Ford and the Jews is a timely and important retelling of a dark chapter in the history of American intolerance."
American Jewish History
"Neil Baldwin sharply develops the case that Henry Ford in effect reflected American culture -- the 'Zeitgeist' -- of the country from the nineteenth into the twentieth century...He builds a thesis that is at once convincing and clear...It is a smoothly-written book...a more nuanced history than previous works. Henry Ford and the Jews raises provocative questions about the place of anti-Semitism in American culture and society."
"Henry Ford had a worse idea. And if you've been following the news lately - tapes of Billy Graham telling Richard Nixon about the Jewish "stranglehold" on America, synagogues aflame in France and Belgium - it's as alive as the internal combustion engine." Read full review
SIDNEY M. BOLKOSKY
Michigan Historical Review
"For Baldwin, 'the mind-bending concept that 'Schindler's List' was being packaged as a gift from the Ford Motor Co. to the American television viewing public' alerted the author that 'here resided an inadequately told story in American history.'
Slowly, building the narrative piece by piece, Baldwin excels in setting the record straight about the icon of American ingenuity and manufacturing excellence and his vitriolic hatred of Jews. He deals equitably with the facts, presenting a balanced account, including the brave response of the Jewish American community in the face of Ford's aggression.
Baldwin's book seeks not to smash the history book portrait of Henry Ford as the great American manufacturing icon, but to shade that image with honesty. Though the narrative wanders a bit now and again, these digressions seldom detract. Rather, Baldwin's engaging inquiry adds a realistic, if ugly, patina to our image of Henry Ford." Read full review
Inquirer Book Critic
The Life and Times of 'Heinrich Ford': New Biography Seeks To Explain How the Genius Car-Maker and Admirer of Hitler Tried To Put Jew-Baiting on the Assembly Line Read review
"Neil Baldwin is the consummate biographer. Baldwin makes no pretence of liking his subject-and few can possibly find Henry Ford endearing after reading this book-but he has charted the progress of a dark and ugly soul thoroughly and fairly. Page after page, Baldwin's book stuns until you almost wish the odious revelations about Henry Ford's character would stop coming because you cannot take them anymore, even as you are drawn by their relentless fascination."
"Baldwin's research is impeccable ... and the quality of his writing is superb .... That Baldwin uncovers much to tell about the fool who was Henry Ford makes for an essential and important read."
The L.A. Times
"Neil Baldwin's Henry Ford and the Jews is the story of an all-American
oddball who pursued his best and worst ideas with a single-mindedness
bordering on the simple-minded. Baldwin is a meticulous researcher and a
graceful writer. His fascinating and disturbing book is a reminder of how
easily even the most spurious gospel of hatred can be spread."
The Calgary Herald
South Jersey Courier-Post
"Henry Ford's relationship with the Nazi movement is fascinating. Baldwin
reports that emissaries seeking support for a final solution found that
concept, while hardly offensive to Henry Ford, was apparently out of his
reralm of possibility, although he became increasingly a source of economic
support for the modern anti-Semites in the U.S."
"Before reading Neil Baldwin's new book, I knew that Henry Ford had been more than a casual anti-Semite. But I had not realized the extent to which he was directly responsible for helping to originate and disseminate many common slanders, including The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. By the end of Henry Ford and the Jews, it's clear to the reader that Ford was more than a run-of-the-mill Jew-hater."
"Rosika Schwimmer, a Hungarian Jewess, called on Henry Ford to enlist the millionaire car maker in a hopelessly idealistic plan to sail the Atlantic and bring peace to a Europe already bleeding from the early months of World War I.
Aufbau, English language edition
DAVID G. PROPSON
MetroWest Jewish News
Ultimately, Ford financed Schwimmer's ''Peace Ship,'' which became an embarrassing, spectacular failure for both. More significantly, he gave her a private preview during their 1915 meeting into what later became an enduring public stain on the reputation of one of the most influential men of the early 20th century - and his heirs.
''I know who caused the war. The German-Jewish bankers,'' Ford told a stunned Schwimmer, who had expected to meet a pacifist humanitarian. ''I have the evidence here. Facts. The German-Jewish bankers caused the war.'"
"Through reporting and access to the personal papers of the men he profiles, Baldwin does an excellent job describing the leaders of the Jewish community and the social and political environment they faced." Read full review
The Boston Globe
"Neil Baldwin's Henry Ford and the Jews follows the twisting paths of the industrialist's thinking to reveal its provenance...Baldwin's fascinating book...reads like a Theodore Dreiser novel, complete with pressures on 'the great man' from his wife and son, who did not share his prejudices. For those who wonder why the story is worth retelling, it is useful to be reminded that Ford helped make possible the worldwide dissemination of the scurrilous 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' and that Hitler had a portrait of Ford in his first Nazi Party office."
"The details of not only Ford's story but of anti-Semitism in America will be surprising for those who have never read nor researched them before. Baldwin does include some of the long history of Judeophobia in Europe and the U. S. but assumes at least a nominal familiarity with the topic and its vocabulary. Overall, the book is accessible to readers; it is intelligent and provocative but not overly academic in tone. It captures a man who, upon reading, becomes a conflicted figure, one whose ingenuity and creativity unfortunately coexisted with his hatred and paranoia." Read full review
SARAH RACHEL EGELMAN
Ford, the father of the modern assembly line, was convinced that the Jews were the source of whatever ailed America. He wasn't alone in the thought. Among his peers, the great business tycoons of the early 20th Century, anti-Semitism was common table talk. Neil Baldwin, author of Henry Ford and the Jews, recalls that Ford, inventor Thomas Edison and tire magnet Harvey Firestone used to go on motor-car expeditions to the hills of Appalachia and New England. Around their campfires, berating the Jews was a frequent practice. It was, as well, when pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh and Ford became buddies.
The others, though, generally kept their views hidden behind the fences of their restricted country clubs. Ford was out front in his anti-Semitism. He advertised it almost as widely as he promoted his famed Model T. Nor did he let common standards of courtesy get in his way. Read full review
The Chicago Tribune
"Neil Baldwin presents a nuanced portrait of Henry Ford...As talented a writer as he is a researcher, Baldwin presents his subject as good drama, weaving in the roles of the country's prominent Jewish leaders, and of Rabbi Leo Franklin, a now-forgotten Detroit spiritual leader who had a longstanding relationship with Ford."
The New York Times Book Review
"The timing could scarcely be worse. Just as Ford Motor Co. struggles to get past its Firestone problems, the forced exit of CEO Jacques Nasser and a round of painful layoffs, a new book, Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate by Neil Baldwin, is in the stores." Read full review
"Fifty-four years after Henry Ford's death, it is still worth pondering how someone of his gifts could have become so consumed by hate as to let it taint all he had accomplished in life. The question is as timely today as ever, even if the particular hatemongers and scapegoats have changed ... Mr. Baldwin's narrative convincingly shows readers that Mr. Ford was his own man...For better or worse, Ford the company will have an image forever linked to Ford the man."
The Jewish Week (New York)
The Detroit News
"A well-produced book, with a fascinating collection of black and white
photos and newspaper reproductions. But first and foremost, it is a
devastating biography of Henry Ford that stamps him as a prejudiced
bigot whose enormous wealth made him a danger to America's Jews. Neil Baldwin spells this out in great detail, hammering home every piece of
ALISON LEIGH COWAN
"Off The Shelf - The Industrial Genius Who Hated Difference,"
The New York Times
"A fine and timely book...The absence of critical Ford Company records -
many of which were intentionally destroyed, only deepens the mystery [of
Henry Ford's behavior]. Yet Neil Baldwin, who has written illuminatingly of
Thomas Edison and his prejudices (some of them also anti-Semitic) is not easily daunted."
Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate is by far the most thorough examination of the one side of the multifaceted Ford that isn't on display at Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.
MORTON I. TEICHER
The Jerusalem Post
The Baltimore Sun
JONATHAN D. SARNA
Washington Post Book World
The portrayal of Ford by New York author Neil Baldwin is devastating, and is likely to have an impact on the way future generations of Americans think
about the Dearborn farm boy whom Fortune magazine named the greatest businessman of the 20th Century.
The strength of this biography lies in context: by emphasizing Ford's background, influences and the world around the auto manufacturer, Baldwin (executive director of the National Book Foundation and author of Edison: Inventing the Century, etc.) brings a fresh approach to what has long been known about one of America's most famous anti-Semites. In the book's first part, Baldwin focuses on the climate of intellectual anti-Semitism that Ford experiences as a child and young adult - and how these likely shaped his views about Jews. By the end of WWI, "Jew hatred was now an entrenched, permanent stain on Ford's psyche," which consistently teetered on the brink of sanity. Ford, who was raised on a farm, believed that Jews were responsible for the evils of modern cities and America's interventionist foreign policy, even as he remained friends with individual Jews. And as Baldwin disturbingly shows, Ford also put his twisted ideals into action by creating an anti-Semitic newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. (In this way, Ford was unlike Thomas Edison, whom Baldwin describes as a passive anti-Semite.) But Baldwin is not content to depict Ford's anti-Semitism and his cadre of like-minded people - he also describes attempts to curb Ford's effect on society. After a lawsuit by a Jew maligned in the Independent, Ford eventually apologized with the help of Jewish organizations (whether or not that apology was sincere remains an open question). As he does elsewhere in the book, Baldwin probes the story behind this apology. His concise look at an organized American Jewry beginning to flex its muscles makes this excellent biography a tale of changing American ethnic relations.
Forecast: The Jewish audience is a lock for this, but it should also appeal more broadly to students of American history and inter-ethnic relations.
- Detroit Free Press Read full review.
What made industrialist Henry Ford hate the Jews so much? Neil Baldwin, a distinguished biographer and executive director of the National Book Foundation, spent four and a half years studying that question, as he researched "Henry Ford and the Jews." For two decades, says Baldwin, Ford waged a rabid anti-Semitic media campaign, spending millions of dollars publishing "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," "The International Jew," and the Dearborn Independent. By 1922, a large portrait of Ford hung in Adolph Hitler's private office in Munich. But, says Baldwin, "as far as I can tell, Henry Ford really did not grow up with any first-hand experience of Jews. He didn't really know any Jews until he was a grown person." As an adult, Ford's views were "shaped by received opinions and by people who worked in his inner circle that were very, very biased and prejudiced people."
Baldwin believes that there were three main reasons for Ford's venomous views. "Ford had several reservoirs of anger, and he didn't know what to do with them," says Baldwin. The first was World War I, and its disruption on the industry he was trying to create. Second, "he was an extremely conservative Christian, with a highly developed Puritanical streak. I think he thought Jews represented the antithesis of what Protestant America should be and what pure uncorrupted America should be." Third, says Baldwin, "I think by nature his mind was very Manichean. He believed in good versus evil, and he needed a repository for that evil." Does Baldwin, as a Jew, feel that he can be fair to Ford? Yes, he says firmly. "I'm a very rigorous historian-biographer, and I've had a lot of practice writing stories that very much resist objectivity." His meticulously researched book will be an eye-opener to anyone who only has a textbook knowledge of "The Flivver King."