Drive! Henry Ford, George Selden, and the Race to Invent the Auto Age by Lawrence Goldstone (Publication Date: May 17, 2016)
A super review in the Wall Street Journal: A "marvelously told story...on display are lucky scoundrels and unlucky geniuses, hustlers, hacks, and daredevils galore. Mr. Goldstone has written a book that beautifully captures the intertwined fates of these two ingenious pioneers."
And a starred Library Journal. Called the book "Splendid." (They have excellent taste.)
Also a very nice Booklist. "Fascinating...an engaging new take on the history of technological innovation." (Quite astute as well.)
But the best is a STARRED Kirkus! That takes some doing. I can't help it--here it is in full:
The creation of the American automobile. Goldstone (Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies, 2014, etc.) offers a wonderful, story-filled saga of the early days of the auto age. Against the background of late-17th-century attempts to use controlled explosions as a power source and the eventual rise of German and French carmakers, the author traces the development of American car manufacturing through the lives and work of a colorful cast of entrepreneurs and innovators, most notably Henry Ford (1863-1947), a farmer's son whose Model T would make him America's richest man, and George Selden (1846-1922), a judge's son whose patent for an automobile he never built spawned an industry. Ford dominates the narrative: at once charismatic and enigmatic, he was a marketing genius—the Steve Jobs of his time—who, contrary to legend, did not invent the automobile or mass production but made his fortune by selling the inventions of others. He converted "ideas to cash," which, writes Goldstone, is the definition of innovation. In the process, Ford betrayed associates, borrowed ideas, and notoriously took credit for the work of others. He would clash in courtroom encounters with the visionary Selden, the first American to apply the nascent technology of internal combustion to powering a "road carriage." Lacking funds to build such a vehicle, Selden patented his idea and subsequently collected licensing fees from makers of motorcars. While aspects of Goldstone's book will be familiar to auto buffs, the story is so compelling and well-crafted that most readers will be swept up in his vivid re-creation of a bygone era. The book abounds with detailed accounts of races, auto shows, and heroic cross-country journeys and explains in plain English the advances in automotive engineering that transformed early vehicles from playthings of the wealthy to functional, low-cost cars for the masses. "Horse Is Doomed," read one headline in 1895. This highly readable popular history tells why.
Also, some amazing quotes from a group of highly discerning readers:
"Business history as you have never read before, Lawrence Goldstone tells the important but now forgotten legal fight over the patent for the automobile. With more plot twists and turns than a murder mystery and a cast of well-known industrial titans, Drive! takes the reader down the road to the dawning age of the automobile when Henry Ford’s dream almost turned into a nightmare."
—James McGrath Morris, author Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power
"Drive! is an exquisite treasure. Titanic court battles, personal feuds among robber barons, hair-raising, death defying early automobile races, and a slice of history, beautifully researched and written, that shaped the country in the early twentieth century, there is something in this book for all lovers of an epic, transformative struggle."
—Dale Oesterle, Reese Chair, Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University
"In suitably fast-paced prose, Goldstone tells the enthralling story of the fraught early days of the 'Horseless Age.' The cast in the high-stakes battle includes brilliant engineers, Gilded Age tycoons, and reckless daredevils both on the track and in the boardroom—a heady mix of motors, money, and testosterone. Silicon Valley’s billionaires have nothing on these guys for either ingenuity or ruthlessness."
—Ross King, author of Brunelleschi’s Dome
"Drive! cruises backrooms, boardrooms and courtrooms as pioneer racers compete for their place in motoring history. Hang on!"
—Rick Hughey, International Motor Racing Research Center at Watkins Glen
"Lawrence Goldstone pulls back the curtain on a world long hidden from view, of the unsung heroes and forgotten men behind the most consequential invention of the 20th century. He synthesizes auto history and extensive scholarship to create a refreshing, original account, a bold, powerfully argued retelling of the history of the automobile. Goldstone takes Henry Ford out of familiar context and presents him as someone entirely new, an even more curious and riveting man. A lucid, intelligent page-turner, Drive! will enthrall and enlighten you."
—Elizabeth MacDonald, senior stocks editor, FOX Business
"Utterly compelling. Filled with fascinating stories and larger-than-life characters, Drive! is a joy ride. I’ll never get behind the wheel of my car again without thinking about Drive!"
—Howard Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Invasion and American Lightning
© Lawrence Goldstone.