Friday, January 15, 2010

Crash Course by Paul Ingrassia

I just finished reading Paul Ingrassia's new book, Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry's Road from Glory to Disaster, on my new Kindle. I thought it might be worth commenting both on the book as well as on the electronic reader.

First, regarding the book, I thoroughly enjoyed Ingrassia's history of the auto industry. He does a wonderful job of documenting the evolution of the American auto companies, while contrasting their decisions to those of Honda and Toyota. He takes both management and the union to task equally for their incompetence, explaining ludicrous decisions such as the Job Ban. He also does a nice job of describing how change efforts, such as the Saturn experiment, did not succeed. Lastly, he explains how Ford made the tough decisions that enabled it to avoid bankruptcy, while GM management did not have the courage to make similar choices. I would like to have seen him look forward a bit at the end to talk more about how the firms will have to position themselves to succeed in the long term, and I think he seemed overly positive on the entire federal bailout. For instance, he never criticizes the federal task force for not demanding more change in the top management ranks at GM when they removed Wagoner. Overall, though, it's definitely worth reading.

As for the Kindle, I enjoy having the opportunity to purchase a book in seconds via wireless from the comfort of my home or office. That is incredibly convenient. The screen technology is easy on the eye as well. I do wonder, though, if tablet PC technology will leapfrog the Kindle in terms of user interface.