• The Vagabonds

  • The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison's Ten-Year Road Trip
  • By: Jeff Guinn
  • Narrated by: Josh Hamilton
  • Length: 9 hrs and 34 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (146 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A “fascinating slice of rarely considered American history” (Booklist) - the story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison - whose annual summer sojourns introduced the road trip to our culture and made the automobile an essential part of modern life.

In 1914, Henry Ford and naturalist John Burroughs visited Thomas Edison in Florida and toured the Everglades. The following year Ford, Edison, and tire-maker Harvey Firestone joined together on a summer camping trip and decided to call themselves the Vagabonds. They would continue their summer road trips until 1925, when they announced that their fame made it too difficult for them to carry on.

Although the Vagabonds traveled with an entourage of chefs, butlers, and others, this elite fraternity also had a serious purpose: to examine the conditions of America’s roadways and improve the practicality of automobile travel. Cars were unreliable, and the roads were even worse. But newspaper coverage of these trips was extensive, and as cars and roads improved, the summer trip by automobile soon became a desired element of American life.

The Vagabonds is “a portrait of America’s burgeoning love affair with the automobile” (NPR) but it also sheds light on the important relationship between the older Edison and the younger Ford, who once worked for the famous inventor. The road trips made the automobile ubiquitous and magnified Ford’s reputation, even as Edison’s diminished. The automobile would transform the American landscape, the American economy, and the American way of life and Guinn brings this seminal moment in history to vivid life. 

©2019 Jeff Guinn (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

What listeners say about The Vagabonds

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Wonderful story about Americanism.

Warts and all. Frames reality for what it is worth. These men and the support and guidance of the women in their life will never be duplicated, but serve as inspiration to achieve greatness.

1 person found this helpful

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Very interesting

Growing up in Dearborn, Michigan, I thought I knew a lot about Henry Ford. This book showed me how much more there was to learn about him and the delightful Thomas Edison. My book club read this book. And since we all still live in Michigan, we made a road trip to the Henry Ford museum to see the vagabonds display. I highly recommend this book.

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Excellent book and narration

Well written and very instructive regarding the lives of 2 American superstars of the early 20th century, now often forgotten. The author also adds a generous dose of contemporary politics and lifestyles. Enjoyed every minute

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Nice book. Didn’t care for narrator.

Interesting story, but annoyed by narrator trying to sound like Edison, Ford and Firestone rather than just reading the words.

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Great story

this book brings to life some great stories about some of the most important men who impacted America

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Very interesting read with great performance!

If you enjoy automotive history and the brilliant innovative minds that shaped everything around close and broad to it, then you will enjoy this book. The first-hand perspective really captivates the listener in to what the characters are like, what they do, and who they are. A great read if you like what you see from the brief description.

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Loved it

We take long road trips and this audible book made the hours speed by. Planning a trip to Greenfield Village.

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facinating

was aware of their individual achievements but had no idea of how their friendships impacted our culture. thoroughly enjoyable.