What We Are Reading Today: Forging Global Fordism by Stefan J. Link

Short Url
Updated 30 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Forging Global Fordism by Stefan J. Link

As the US rose to ascendancy in the first decades of the 20th century, observers abroad associated American economic power most directly with its burgeoning automobile industry. In the 1930s, in a bid to emulate and challenge America, engineers from across the world flocked to Detroit. Chief among them were Nazi and Soviet specialists who sought to study, copy, and sometimes steal the techniques of American automotive mass production, or Fordism. Forging Global Fordism traces how Germany and the Soviet Union embraced Fordism amid widespread economic crisis and ideological turmoil. 

This incisive book recovers the crucial role of activist states in global industrial transformations and reconceives the global thirties as an era of intense competitive development, providing a new genealogy of the postwar industrial order.

Stefan Link uncovers the forgotten origins of Fordism in Midwestern populism, and shows how Henry Ford’s antiliberal vision of society appealed to both the Soviet and Nazi regimes.

He explores how they positioned themselves as America’s antagonists in reaction to growing American hegemony and seismic shifts in the global economy during the interwar years, and shows how Detroit visitors like William Werner, Ferdinand Porsche, and Stepan Dybets helped spread versions of Fordism abroad and mobilize them in total war.

Forging Global Fordism challenges the notion that global mass production was a product of post–World War II liberal internationalism, demonstrating how it first began in the global thirties, and how the spread of Fordism had a distinctly illiberal trajectory.


What We Are Reading Today: A Place for Everything by Judith Flanders

Updated 23 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: A Place for Everything by Judith Flanders

A Place for Everything fascinatingly lays out the gradual triumph of alphabetical order, from its possible earliest days as a sorting tool to its current decline in prominence in our digital age of Wikipedia and Google.
Historian Judith Flanders draws readers’ attention to both the neglected ubiquity of the alphabet and the long, complex history of its rise to prominence.
A Place for Everything presents the study and analysis made by the author of the alphabet’s origins and its development as a sorting tool.
“This book will be very interesting to a narrow audience of people — particularly librarians,” said a review in goodreads.com.
Deirdre Mask said in a review for The New York Times for The New York Times that Flanders, a meticulous scholar who has written books on Victorian London and the history of Christmas, “prioritizes thoroughness, and at times her book can read a bit like the encyclopedias she writes about. The footnotes get some of the best lines.”
Mask is the author of The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth,
and Power.