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Why GM Matters Inside the Race to Transform an American Icon by William Holstein

Why GM Matters Inside the Race to Transform an American Icon

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Why GM Matters Inside the Race to Transform an American Icon by William Holstein

In November, GM CEO Rick Wagoner appeared before Congress to ask for $25 billion to bail out the struggling Big Three automakers. To critics like Thomas Freidman and Mitt Romney, it was a sign that the American auto industry should be led out to pasture; if the Japanese are better at making cars, they said, then we should let them do it. To defenders, the loss of the country's largest manufacturing sector would be an incomprehensible disaster. Nearly every day, the debate rages on the op-ed pages. Billions of dollars and millions of jobs hang in the balance. In Why GM Matters, William Holstein goes deep inside GM to show what's really happening at the country's most iconic corporation. Where critics say that GM has sat on its hands while the market changed, Holstein demonstrates that GM has already radically retooled its entire operation, from manufacturing and cost structure to design. Where pundits say we'd be better off without GM, he shows how inextricably linked GM and the nation's economy still are: The country's largest private buyer of IT, the world's largest buyer of steel, the holder of pensions for 780,000 Americans, GM accounts for a full 1 percent of our country's GDP. A dollar spent on GM has profoundly different consequences from a dollar spent on Toyota. Following a diverse cast of characters--from Rick Wagoner, the controversial CEO, to design director Bob Boniface, to Linda Flowers, a team leader on the line in Kansas City--Holstein examines the state of GM's health and builds a persuasive argument that GM is essential to our nation's well-being and, with the right economic climate, ready to compete with Toyota as one of the biggest global automakers.


General Motors once dominated the auto industry, garnering more than 50 percent of the U.S. market share, but complacency, health-care costs, and competition from more efficient Japanese companies have all contributed to a dramatic decline. When GM CEO Rick Wagoner asked for a federal bridge loan of $25 billion for the big three automakers, the reception was anything but warm. Holstein, author of Manage the Media (2008), takes a look beyond the sound bites to reveal a car company struggling to meet high-tech standards while fighting for its very existence. Holstein argues that GM is worth saving because for every manufacturing job, there are 10 jobs throughout the whole chain of suppliers that also serve Ford and Chrysler; thus a GM failure could mean the collapse of the entire auto industry. Holstein's defense of GM makes sense at a time when the company is about to begin production of a fuel-efficient, plug-in hybrid, a critical bridge to U.S. energy independence.

-- Booklist

At a time when GM and the domestic auto industry are in acute crisis, this book makes sense of what has happened--and what should happen next. Bill Holstein is an extremely knowledgeable and perceptive journalist, and his book is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of the American auto industry.

-- Alex Taylor, Fortune

Holstein makes a compelling argument that the business model has changed dramatically - that Wagoner and other GM executives do get it - but by his own account the changes came far too late, and took far too long to implement.

-- Dan Calabrese, New York


About the Author

William J. Holstein has written for BusinessWeek , the New York Times, and Fortune, among other publications, and is the author of the books Manage the Media and The Japanese Power Game.

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd March 2009


William Holstein

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Walker & Co an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing USA


288 pages


Economics, finance, business & management



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