Once Upon a Car
The Fall and Resurrection of America's Big Three Automakers--GM, Ford, and Chrysler
By Bill Vlasic
(William Morrow, Hardcover, 9780061845628, 400pp.)
Publication Date: October 2011
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Once Upon a Car is the brilliantly reported inside-the-boardrooms-and-factories story of Detroits fight for survival, going beyond the headlines to chronicle how the countrys Big Three auto companiesGeneral Motors, Ford, and Chryslerteetered on the brink of collapse during the 2008 financial crisis. In a tale that reads like a corporate thriller, Bill Vlasic, who has covered the auto industry for more than fifteen years, first for the Detroit News and now for the New York Times, takes readers into the executive offices, assembly plants, and union halls to introduce a cast of memorable characters, many of whom are speaking out for the first time, including the executives who struggled to save their companies but in the end had to seek a controversial, last-gasp rescue from the U.S. government.
Vlasic goes behind the scenes to portray the men at the top during Detroits last stand. Rick Wagoner, the CEO of General Motors, tried to turn around a dying company, only to be forced to resign as a condition of the government bailout. Bill Ford, great-grandson of the legendary Henry Ford, had the will to keep Ford alive but needed the guts to hire an unknown outsider, Alan Mulally, to transform the company before it crashed. At Chrysler, leadership was constantly changing as new owners tried in vain to fix the smallest of the beleaguered Big Three. And through it all, the president of the United Auto Workers union, Ron Gettelfinger, fought to save the jobs of the men and women who build American-made cars and trucks.
This tale of an iconic industry in crisis is more than a big business drama and provides a rich, unvarnished portrait of how Detroits decline affected tens of thousands of workers and dozens of communities nationwide. The story moves from the gleaming corporate skyscrapers and massive auto plants to the halls of the U.S. Congress and into the Oval Office, where President Obama and his aides wrestled with how to keep General Motors and Chrysler from going out of business. Vlasic shows why the bailout worked, and how Detroit can succeed under new leadership and build automobiles equal to any in the world.
Once Upon a Car tells a uniquely American tale of success, failure, and redemption. It is an important and illuminating chapter in an astonishing story that is still unfolding. And no one is more qualified to write it than Bill Vlasic.
An award-winning business reporter with more than fifteen years of experience specializing in the automotive industry, Bill Vlasic is currently the Detroit bureau chief for the New York Times. The coauthor of Taken for a Ride, Vlasic is a winner of the Gerald Loeb Award for excellence in financial journalism and has been recognized for his reporting and investigative journalism by the Associated Press and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.
“Essential account of the United States auto industry.”
-New York Times Book Review, Editor's Choice
“Compelling... a human approach to an industry that couldn’t be less human in scale... entertaining.”
-Wall Street Journal
“The book is extraordinary. Vlasic offers what will probably become the definitive retelling of the crisis that nearly felled America’s three carmaking icons.”
“A deeply reported, full-on narrative in the style of Barbarians at the Gate or Game Change.”
“Once Upon a Car is the best book on the whole shebang that you are ever going to read... a critical history.”
“With almost anthropological precision, Once Upon a Car is a thorough and compelling account of the collapse of the domestic auto industry”
-Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Even with all the ink spilled on Detroit lately, Vlasic’s tale is as fresh as a new car… Vlasic says he wanted to write a fast-paced narrative, and he’s penned a page-turner in Once Upon a Car”
“Vlasic delivers a devastating account of auto industry arrogance, ignorance, and tragedy.”
“Terrific... better than most novels... truly fascinating.”
-Free Lance Star Virginia
“Vlasic enriches his journalistic attention to detail with the drama and pacing of a thriller.”
“Vlasic is a master storyteller whose prowess makes the absorption of many complex facts painless.”