Join getAbstract to access the summary!


Join getAbstract to access the summary!


An Autobiography


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Lee Iacocca rebuilt Ford, saved Lincoln Mercury and rescued Chrysler, but the real news is how he describes the process.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Lee Iacocca, the corporate icon of the “go go” era, recounts (with co-writer William Novak) how he did it his way, with a little help from his friends. He sets the record straight about insinuations that he was a flamboyant flash in the pan or had Mafia ties. A sense of honesty pervades his narrative, which often reveals more about the man than he probably intended. This 1984 classic is a cultural account of a time when American manufacturing was full of vitality, and marketing was simpler and more direct. At the time, experts warned Iacocca that you can know too much about everything and that a flood of information will just slow you down. He decided to know it all, anyway. His philosophy, well expressed between anecdotes, seems almost naïve now, certainly when contrasted with the ruthlessness of his nemesis, Henry Ford II. Iacocca gets the last laugh with his insider descriptions of life in the corporate glass house. getAbstract recommends this frank, refreshing yarn to postboomer business leaders, managers on the ascent, car buffs and manufacturers who operate within a dealer network.


Wieners and the Depression

When Nicola Iacocca crossed the American threshold at Ellis Island in 1902, he was already convinced that only the United States offered the promise that if you wanted something bad enough and were willing to work for it, you could become anything you wanted. His only son, Lee, embraced this ideal and embodied it.

Nicola was among the first in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to own a new Model T Ford. After enlisting in World War I, he was stationed at Camp Crane, not far from home. Being one of the few who could drive, he was assigned to train ambulance drivers. In 1921, Nicola, then 31, returned to Italy to retrieve his mother. While there, he married a 17-year-old Naples girl. He brought both women to America. With his aptitude for vehicles and his eye for real estate, Nicola amassed a small fortune in the years before the Depression. The children never wanted for anything and the family always paid cash, because Nicola forbade buying on credit. He taught his teenage son two sound business lessons: Firstly, stay away from capital-intensive businesses because you yourself will end up as the property of the bank. Then, in hard times, sell the one...

About the Authors

Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Lee Iacocca, the son of immigrants, rose to become head of the Ford Motor Company and Chrysler Motor Corporation. He is the author or co-author of several books, including //Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

Learners who read this summary also read