Ford Tough: Bill Ford and the Battle to Rebuild America's Automaker
David Magee. John Wiley & Sons, $27.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-471-47966-6
Automotive authority Magee (Turnaround: How Carlos Ghosn Rescued Nissan) describes this book as the""story of an American struggle,"" but readers not of a business bent may have difficulties relating to the struggles of energetic CEO Bill Ford and the company that bears his family name. A""golden-boy heir grown into a family-man executive,"" Bill Ford is the great-grandson of automobile pioneer Henry Ford and the first family member to run the company since 1979. Drawing upon interviews with Bill and his friends, Magee paints a flattering portrait of the CEO, who got straight A's in school, captained the football team, mixed with kids in blue collar neighborhoods, attended Princeton, worked his way up in the company on the executive track and got a seat on the board of directors when he was barely 30. In 2001, when the company started to flounder under then CEO Jac Nasser (who's unflatteringly described as hard-driving, impulsive and""diminutive"" at five-foot-six), Ford got in the driver's seat and steered the company back on course. Magee notes that""assuming the full-time duties of CEO had not been high on Bill's priority list,"" but the man himself later admits,""I'd be kidding if I said every day is a bed of roses, but this 'reluctant CEO' stuff is for the birds.... There is nothing I would rather be doing."" The ills Bill helps the company overcome are no worse than what many businesses suffered after the dot-com crash, and other books (like Louis Gerstner's Who Says Elephants Can't Dance: Inside IBM's Historic Turnaround) have tackled the topic more critically and comprehensively; however, business owners and managers may glean some helpful tips from the book's final chapter:""Great Products, Strong Business, Better World.""
Reviewed on: 10/18/2004