Henry Ford: A Biography

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Richard Snow is the biography author who document the early day’s life of Henry Ford and his Achievements in his work “I Invented the Modern World: The Rise of Henry Ford ”

Richard Snow writes narrating the love affair between Ford and the Ford Model T that came as a wave of change around the world and a significant development mark during the 20th Century. Mr. Snow narrates Ford's ability, his fanaticism, his near-sightedness, his corruptness, and his prodigy skills through novel-like work that is actually as a result of research on the life and adventures of Henry Ford. He presents his accurate perception of Henry while detailing his early life and his major successful steps in inventing the Model T. It’s a smooth, attention-grabbing read in my opinion.

Richard snow was born in New York City (1947), is a renowned English and History scholar. Richard has authored several works including biographies, novels, and research papers; among them: The Funny Place (J. Philip O’Hara): where he narrates about Coney Island, Freelon Starbird (Houghton Mifflin): A novel on the American Revolution, The Burning (Doubleday): A historical novel about the town of Hinckley, Minnesota, fire when fire ravaged it in 1893 and many others. I have only read a few of this books, but with the spackle that this biography aroused in me about Snow’s literary work, I intend to learn more.

Genre: Biography and Clamors

Snow’s work well captures the life of Henry Ford during his glorious youthful days. He investigates how the humble farmer constructed the simple, long-lasting and cheap vehicles specially designed and dedicated to the ordinary citizen in the early twentieth century. Snow continually stipulates the fact that Henry was from a humble farmer’s home and his interest in machinery was invoked by the desire to ease his father’s farm work. Henry started out by repairing home gadgets and machines such as locomotive wheels and electricity up to make own gas engine in the kitchen someday. His innovation and contribution in horseless carriage advancements were not appreciated not until the San Francisco earthquake when people realized that electricity was not always efficient and therefore Henry’s self-contained combustion unit was way valuable than they thought. Snow describes how later on, Ford demystified the fact that vehicles were just luxury to the wealth and modeled designs for Everyman. He explains history while still narrating escapades of Henry’s personal life and his success in a novelistic approach.

To anyone seeking a clear understanding of recent history, cars, and significant happenings in during Twentieth Century as well as today’s live, I would recommend this masterpiece. I have read several biographies but this one was eye-catching and one of my most enjoyable reads.


The well-selected tittle “I Invented the Modern World: The Rise of Henry Ford” is attention-grabbing and provocative, yet it explains no less than what the author writes about. This book tells essential in-depth strides in the evolution of car models and also, investigates the character traits of Henry and his life generally up to sometimes after he had innovated the famous Model T and his fame spread wildly all over. Therefore, the title of the book entirely captures all that the author describes in it. It fits well with the author’s texts. It also leaves the reader suspended on what happened to Henry Ford and like in most literature plots a downward trend towards settling everything always follows the climax. So, yes, the tittle sparkles some emotions and interest of diving further into Snow’s work, cars, and innovation as well as the personal life of Henry Ford.

Pictures/Book Jacket/Cover/Printing:

The author has peculiarly packaged this book from its cover art, printing, and the visual appeals to covey the story about the life of the iconic innovator and his career until the first model T was sold. On the cover page, the author designed Henry’s picture looking bossy with a background that seems figuratively as the world that he had saved. This could be interpreted as either the ordinary men that looked at the new car model with ecstasy and interest to own it or the investors or advocates that always wanted to be associated with Henry‘s while partially controlling his enterprise. This suspends, and dilemma leaves the reader wanting to know everything about the pictures, the book title and the author too.

From the book jacket, there is a lot to tell about Henry and history, and yet a lot remains untold that drives the reader into wanting to know more about these subjects. Ford is portrayed as a young Michigan boy who later turned to be personified as the epitome icon for technological advancements over the century after his death. It tells of how the resources, fearlessness, and energy drove Ford to the height he had never thought he could get to. Snow describes from scene to scene how Henry engaged his mechanical capabilities, imaginations, and determination to change the course of history and the American industry.

In several ways, Snow, vividly tells Ford’s story and in others, he excludes parts of it, for reasons the reader knows not. Richard masterfully coils together an exciting biography narrating how Ford rose to fame through his creative invention, the Model T. Later on Ford took less thirteen hours to assemble this car after he unveiled it. He became celebrated nationally having changed the history of inventions and motor vehicles within a decade. However, his charitable character overwhelmed him and he soured even has his ideas were used in further advancing transport means such as manufacturing of not only ships and machinery but also airplanes and uncountable household devises.

Additionally, Snow who was once a historical picture consultant uses his established skills to create robust imaginations in the readers’ mind pictorially describing events and how the models looked like. He also quenches the eagerness in wanting to relate the innovations to the face of Henry who appears a national hero of the century. Some of them included;

Model T Ford (1910)

Here, Snow illustrates the size of the first Model T that Ford made in his youthful days. He had been motivated by his mechanical aptitude and questing spirit combined with his solution-oriented viewpoint in life. Henry seemed to be a quick learner and a likable firm young man who was willing to travel a different path. He developed his mechanical abilities from childhood assembling farm and household tools, and after he invented his first Model T, he attracted a lot of attention and investors came in wanting to tap his skills and be part of his enterprise an idea that he did not give in to.

Model T Ford (1925)

After several attempts and modifications to the initial Model T, Ford made one of his most considerable strides and achievement when he displayed this beautiful Model T that would, later on, be sold. Henry had an elusive character that Richard describes as “hard to capture.” He was thought to have a variety of instincts functioning within him. However, with age, Richard seemed to be growing extremely cruel with humor and harsh while dealing even with his close relations


Henry Ford is the main character in this literary work and less is told about another character that Snow mentions. Henry’s family is referred with a specification on his father who was a strict-character type. He was brought up on a farm, but he was opposed to his fathers’ idea that he should also be a farmer. He held on to machinery and assembling farm tools and household devices. Less is told of his accomplices and his employees apart from how strict he was and the loyalty that he expected from everyone. He always made cruel jokes. Ford was only concerned about his company’s advancements. Although he remained married to his wife Clara, he also kept a mistress and had an out-of-wedlock (illegitimate) son whom he never acknowledged for over thirty years. He left out those who have helped him become successful has he become the first world’s billionaire. Ford was so much attachment to his accomplishments that he forgot even the professional ethics. However, he is appreciated up to date for making cars available to people in all income brackets. Snow describes Henry as a person who was never seen to support women’s rights and discriminated people from other races and ethnicities. He always considered himself superior to everyone for his success. On the other hand, Henry Ford proved equally to be, an industrialist and an avid environmentalist.

Main Ideas

Snow explains in details the origin of advancements in the transport sector, and he had flesh to the skeleton knowledge I had of Henry Ford as an inventor. He exposes both the personal and career life of Henry depicting him as the epitome icon of success and fame during his days as well as narrating of his weak character side that not most people would otherwise have found out.


It is even fascinating to know that Henry had no formal education like other of his counterparts yet he contributed more than half of them combined to the transport sector. Better even, it is amusing how the youthful man did not give in to the advocates and investors persuasions of wanting to have a share of his enterprise. However, it is sad to read in the same work that looks like an upward-trend success story that ford had an illegal mistress and that he would also not accept his blood son for close to twenty years. 

In the biography, there are several statements that Snow makes to either spark more profound interest, dilemma or to get the reader reasoning (and make imagination) to, for instance, Snow says that “In between the steam locomotive and the Apple came Henry Ford’s Model T.” This statement leaves the reader to make up what the author meant and how the apple, the steam locomotive, and Henry’s invention. (Snow 38).

 For the period that it took him to research and write, Snow says that as “I got to know him better, I liked him more, and less: The slim gray spirit suddenly blazing with the possibilities of the whole twentieth century and drawing disciples to his heat, the friend of all humankind, the friend of nobody, the most famous living American going from being a great man to an awful one within what seems the span of a single year.” Sincerely narrating about the Henry Ford that he (Richard) came to “know” makes his work compelling (Snow 91).

Summary and lessons

Having read the biography, there are several things I would say about Henry and experiences I would learn from it. Ford was a hard-working, self-motivated, solution-oriented intelligent young man whose drive was second to none. Henry was naturally a leader, and his background contributed to his development of a mechanical inclination which later landed him into roles that he would require all the skills he had earned. He rose to success and fame in his youthful days, and this contributed a lot to his personal character development. His ego was an untamed animal, and he settled for nothing less than the best. His managerial skills made him a bit more strict and harsh, and this became worse as he aged. He never settled around mediocrity, and he had a knack for getting around exceptionally high caliber people and finding synergy with them.

Work cited

Snow, Richard. I invented the modern age: The rise of Henry Ford. Simon and Schuster, 2013: 20–164

November 24, 2023

Life Literature

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