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The deal maker : how William C. Durant made General Motors
Axel Madsen
Adult Nonfiction HD9710.U52 D855 1999

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In the early 1900s, entrepreneurs by the hundreds were looking for ways to build the best horseless carriage that would lead to a pot of gold. What set Durant apart from other would-be car czars was that, long before others caught on, he understood that the business was headed toward consolidation, and that to survive he would need access to big money. Madsen, a veteran biographer of Hollywood types (Stanwyck; Billy Wilder; etc.), relies on a few interviews and a lot of secondary sources to present a rather cursory but well executed glimpse of one of the giants of the automobile industry. After he secured the necessary capitalization, General Motors was formed in 1908, and Durant went on a buying spree that saw him add some 25 companies to GM by 1910. But a recession drove the company's bankers to demote Durant to a vice-president, a move that in the end set the stage for Durant's most satisfying personal triumph. Working through a new company he formed, Chevrolet, as well as with allies, Durant was able to win control of GM from the bankers in an unexpected coup. But the growing complexity of the car market made Durant's style of one-man rule outdated. Even before his failure to adopt modern management techniques could break him, he lost everything in the crash of 1929. While it doesn't shed any new light on the history of the automotive industry, Madsen's workmanlike narrative tells a well-structured story of innovation, financial derring-do and hubris. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


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