Has anyone bothered to write a review of this book since it was published back during the Reagan administration ? Doubtful. But nevertheless, being a diehard devotee of the unloved, outdated and esoteric I am undertaking to do just that. I sit at my oaken desk deep in the bowels of the Malaise Motors Archives, drinking box wine and listening to Glenn Campbell in an attempt to channel being an adult in the mid 1980’s. I was around then, to be sure, but I was far more interested in Scooby Doo than the fact that the hitherto impenetrable ramparts of the glorious American auto industry had been breached in the previous decade by better built imports, OPEC, and sometimes questionable management practices. At this same time, according to his more than slightly self aggrandizing book, there was a Sir Galahad in the form of Lee Iacocca who, having been cast in shame from the kingdom of the cantankerous Prince Henry Ford II, proved his worth by rescuing the proverbial damsel in distress that was Chrysler Corporation.
It becomes obvious on page xi in the forward, when he says that “I didn’t write this book to get back at Henry Ford for firing me” and again on page xiii when he refers to Henry Ford II as a “despot”, that that’s precisely why he wrote it. It was a big, fat, angry middle finger raised towards Dearborn. But that’s a small matter. With the benefit of hindsight and my omnipresent rose tinted spectacles of nostalgia I can say that the book is definitely worth a read. Even if some of it is rather tired and trite “son of an immigrant made good” sort of stuff. William Novak did his work as a ghostwriter well, the book reads with grace and fluidity, following a logical arc from Iacoccoa’s boyhood in Allentown, Pennsylvania through his education and eventual employment at Ford Motor Company. Much time is of course given over to Iacocca’s dismissal from Ford and the resurrection of Chrysler. Following this, and here is where it get’s really self congratulatory, are several chapters devoted to Lee Iacocca’s fears of the present and visions for the future and how to go about “Making America Great Again”. From his point of view in the early 1980’s, the biggest threat to the American economy was still the Japanese with their relentless efficiency and schizoid interest rates. The thought of a Korean automaker arising to challenge the Big Three hadn’t yet entered his mind. Nor had the massive industrialization of China. But that’s one of the joys of reading from the past, it makes you question the present and your opinions about the future. You can buy a copy of Iacocca for less than the price of a magazine, so do it.