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The John Deere Story: A Biography of Plowmakers John and Charles Deere [Hardcover]

Neil Dahlstrom , Jeremy Dahlstrom
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

March 31 2005

Today, John Deere is remembered-some say mistakenly-as the inventor of the steel plow. Who was this legendary man and how did he create the internationally renowned company that still bears his name? He began as a debt-stricken blacksmith who, fleeing debt in New England in the 1830s, set up shop in a little town on the Illinois frontier. There, in response to farmers' struggles, he designed a new plow that cut through the impervious prairie sod and lay open the rich, heavy soil for planting. The demand for his polished steel plow convinced him to specialize in farm implements.

In the decades before the Civil War, John Deere envisioned a company supplying midwestern farmers with reliable, affordable equipment. He used only high quality, imported steel and resisted pressure to raise prices. At the same time, he won respectful affection from his employees by working alongside them on the shop floor. Upon taking the helm in the 1860s, John's only surviving son, Charles, expanded the Moline factories to increase production, started branch houses in major midwestern cities to speed distribution, and began to transform the company into a modern corporation. The transformation didn't come without difficulties however: Charles found himself battling the Grange, facing threats of labor unions and strikes led by his own employees, and enduring patent suits and blatant thefts of product designs and advertising.


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Review

"A most useful addition to the literature on Deere and Company, and the environment in which the business operated."—Agricultural History Review

"Lucidly written ... an interesting picture of John and Charles in a concise and very readable book."—Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

"[An] outstanding study in business history ... particularly illuminating on the close relations that bound industry to agriculture during the pioneering period of settlement in the Midwest. It is an enthralling story."—Indiana Magazine of History

About the Author

Jeremy Dahlstrom and Neil Dahlstrom, natives of "John Deere Country" in Moline, Illinois, tell this engaging, inspirational story of John and Charles Deere, shedding light on the two men as business partners and as a devoted father-and-son team. Historian David Vaught provides an introduction describing the role that Deere & Company played in the industrialization of American agriculture.


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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars John Deere Story March 5 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Good story John Deere and his son Charles. Not a long book. Easy to follow. I was hoping for more on John.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you enjoy historical biographies, check this book out! Sept. 8 2005
By W. Kelley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"The John Deere Story" tells a great tale. It focuses on John Deere's development of the modern plow, his successes and failures as a businessman and his business-minded son Charles' success in promoting what is now an international brand. But what also makes this story great is the insight into the 1800's modernization of agriculture and the development of a modern Midwestern city (Moline, Illinois). Because industrialization was still young, it was interesting to read about trademark rights, competition, sales, antitrust arguments and other modern business practices that were being established at the time the Deere family was beginning to make its mark.

There is a lot of detail in this book, so follow the names of the cast of characters closely. It's worth a read!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Nice Feb. 28 2013
By Kat0920 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Arrived on time, turned out to be a great gift for my brother-in-law, hes a John Deere employee and loves anything John Deere. perfect gift for the guy who has everything related to John Deere already.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gift Purchase Jan. 18 2012
By M. Hallock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I purchased this item as a gift for my father. I, myself was not aware of the full history of John Deere and I found it very informational.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Sept. 18 2011
By charles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A great read on the early history of John Deere. Tells of the early success and failures of John Deere. Has a few old pictures.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book Well Worth Reading April 25 2014
By TopCat19 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you are interested in U.S. history, biographies, economics, or business in general, this is a great book. The book is very well written, kept my interest from beginning to end. As you might expect, this covers the earlier days of the John Deere company, founded by John Deere and then run by his son, Charles. It is not a long book, the text runs to 178 pages, and the hardback is a little bit smaller than a full-size hardback. The authors do an excellent job of telling the story, there is a lot of information, but the story flows very well, it's a very readable book. This sort of book is right up my alley anyway, but I was still surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It puts a human face on a company that we have pretty much all at least heard of, and if you are in or from a rural area, I would be surprised if you weren't familiar with the name. Highly recommended.
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