Crash Course

  • by Paul Ingrassia
  • Narrated by Patrick Lawlor
  • 12 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

This is the epic saga of the American automobile industry's rise and demise, a compelling story of hubris, denial, missed opportunities, and self-inflicted wounds that culminates with the president of the United States ushering two of Detroit's Big Three car companies - once proud symbols of prosperity - through bankruptcy. The cost to American taxpayers topped $100 billion - enough to buy every car and truck sold in America in the first half of 2009.
With unprecedented access, Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Ingrassia takes us from factory floors to small-town dealerships to Detroit's boardrooms to the inner sanctums of the White House. He reveals why President Barack Obama personally decided to save Chrysler when many of his advisors opposed the idea. Ingrassia provides the dramatic story behind Obama's dismissal of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner and the angry reaction from GM's board - the same people who had watched idly while the company plunged into penury.
In Crash Course, Ingrassia answers the big questions: Was Detroit's self-destruction inevitable? What were the key turning points? Why did Japanese automakers manage American workers better than the American companies themselves? Ingrassia also describes dysfunctional corporate cultures (even as GM's market share plunged, the company continued business as usual) and Detroit's perverse system of "inverse layoffs" (which allowed union members to invoke seniority to avoid work). Along the way, we meet Detroit's frustrated reformers and witness the wrenching decisions that Ford executives had to make to avoid GM's fate.
Informed by Ingrassia's 25 years of experience covering the auto industry for the Wall Street Journal, and showing an appreciation for Detroit's profound influence on our country's society and culture, Crash Course is a uniquely American and deeply instructive story, one not to be missed.

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What the Critics Say

"How did America's biggest business sink? It's complicated – three Titanics, dozens of icebergs, and 60 million deck chairs per year being rearranged. Only Paul Ingrassia can explain." (P. J. O'Rourke, author of Driving Like Crazy)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Contemporary History at Its Best

Banks, real estate, and now the American auto industry have all been covered and Paul Ingrassia does us a favor for filling us in on the car parts (pun intended). He includes the good the bad and ugly.

First, Ingrassia begins at the beginning and covers a lot of ground that to some may be familiar. The start of US auto manufacture, the establishment of GM, Ford, Chrysler and others. The boom years, oil embargo, muscle cars, SUV rage and the Japanese invasion are all here. The latter part of the book, of course, details the ultimate demise of GM and Chrysler.

Ingrassia could be accused of union bashing, but I thought he was really explaining the codependency between management and the unions. He certainly comes down hard on the Honda bribery years and leaves rooms for all of us to hang our heads.

This is really a sad tale and I wonder if the story of the US auto industry might not be a metaphor for the decline of our competitive abilities in general.

Wonderfully written, Crash Course is read by the very able Patrick Lawlor. It is keeps the listener's interest. I would hope that every American concerned about our competitive situation and economic future will give the book a try.


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- Roy

Very good book

The author really did his homework. I was especially interested in how the GM and Chrysler takeovers went down. There was actually some logic in the way the government handled it, and with the quick closure compared to the average bankruptcy, both companies had a much better chance at recovery than they otherwise might have.
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- george

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-21-2010
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio