American Business History: A Very Short Introduction
by Walter A. Friedman, Oxford University Press, 2020
“History is bunk,” Henry Ford said more than once, helping to cement the impression of business — especially in the U.S., where Ford worked — as crass and anti-intellectual.
In fact, Ford’s critique of history was surprisingly sophisticated. He complained that historians “wrote what they wanted us to believe, glorifying some conqueror or leader” rather than focusing on ordinary people. What’s more, he said, “history is being rewritten every year from a new point of view. So how can anybody claim to know the truth about history?”
The historian Walter A. Friedman, who, as a lecturer at Harvard Business School, is surely familiar with Ford’s views in this department, apparently isn’t buying, as is evident from his pithy new book, American Business History, which has been published as part of Oxford’s ongoing series