Summary of Billy, Alfred, and General Motors

The Story of Two Unique Men, a Legendary Company, and a Remarkable Time in American History

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Billy, Alfred, and General Motors book summary
The story of General Motors is fascinating both for itself, and as a paradigm of organizational development.


8 Overall

6 Applicability

8 Innovation

7 Style


In this book you’ll find eccentrics, misfits and geniuses who made and lost fortunes, founded and lost companies, gained brief fame and were eventually forgotten by just about everyone except automotive industry historians. Although the book purports to focus on Billy Durant, Alfred Sloan and General Motors, its scope is actually much wider, since the evolution of the automobile industry exemplifies the evolution of U.S. industries in general. getAbstract recommends this lively, readable saga to history buffs and managers. It is a highly instructive take on the parallels between boom and bust in the car industry of the 1910s and in the high-tech industry of the 1990s.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How Billy Durant contributed to the evolution of the American auto industry
  • How the industry and General Motors developed
  • What role Alfred Sloan played in building GM and the U.S. industrial sector


Contrasting Characters
William C. (Billy) Durant, the entrepreneur who founded General Motors, died in relative poverty in New York City on March 18, 1947. He was 85. He had fought and lost two battles for control of GM, and had gone on to build and lose other fortunes. The obituary writers...
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About the Author

William Pelfrey is a veteran U.S. Foreign Service Officer and former director of executive communications for General Motors.

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