The First 50 Years 1971 - 2021
This new title from prolific author David Doyle is a bit of a change of pace for him. Instead of a detailed, in-depth examination of a military vehicle or vehicle class, this is instead a quite detailed, chronological look at one of America’s top manufacturers of military vehicles. AM General has a distinguished pedigree, ranging back to the companies that have provided transport to American forces since prior to WWII, companies like Studebaker, Kaiser Jeep, and more recently, American Motors.
Along with it’s many other varied products, South Bend, Indiana based AM General is most famous for being the manufacturer of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle ( HMMWV ), aka the “Humvee”. Coming on the scene in the early 1980’s, the Humvee got it’s turn in the spotlight of international news media during Desert Shield / Desert Storm in 1991/2, and has remained there ever since.
Of course, there’s quite a bit more to the AM General story than just the HMMWV line, and it’s all examined in this book.
Format - softcover, landscape format
Page Count - heavyweight, glossy paper, 144 pages
Size - 8.5” x 11”
Photos - a mix of black and white images, along with full color images.
Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - none
All text and photo captions are in English
What's in the Book?
As a look at AM General from a historical perspective, this book is presented in a chronological manner beginning with the American Motors company acquiring the Kaiser Jeep company in 1969, and concludes in 2020/21 with the re-introduction of a Jeep based vehicle for modern military use. The author breaks down 50 years of history into 12 manageable chapters, each focused solely on a period of time, examining all aspects of AM General’s existence at that time including the people, the facilities, the political and economic factors dictating company actions, and of course, the products.
After a brief one page Introduction which touches on the link between the Studebaker company and the Kaiser Jeep company, the author begins his chronological look at what became the AM General company. Above - various military vehicles made early on in the early years of the company.
Note the timeline that the author includes at the top of each page. The closed circles on either end of the line represent the beginning and end of the 50 year span ( 1971 - 2021 ) covered in this volume, with the open circle representing where the page is on this timeline. I like this method of showing the passage of time.
Above - With the acquisition of Kaiser Jeep in 1969, American Motors Corp ( AM General being the later spin off company ) had Jeeps ( military versions as well as civilian use ) in it’s product line from the very beginning.
In addition to looks at the vehicles produced by what would eventually be the AM General company, the author includes images of the manufacturing plants, and notable executives of these companies and AM General.
Above - In addition to military vehicles, AM General produced a wide variety of civilian vehicles such as mass transit busses, the iconic Jeep based mail trucks, and various other products.
Above - Despite being introduced several years earlier, it was Desert Storm that put the HMMWV at world-wide center stage.
It’s taken me over 400 reviews, but thanks to the author, I’ve finally managed to include an image of the Terminator in a review! Above - in 1992 deliveries of civilian-use Hummers began, with the first customer being Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Above - an image of a newly ( 2007/08 ) designed Joint Light Tactical Vehicle ( JLTV ), made by a joint venture between AM General and General Dynamics Land Systems which was called General Tactical Vehicles ( GTV ). Ultimately, the Oshkosh Corp. won the bid with the military for the JLTV with its version.
Everything old is new again….in 2019 AM General returned to it’s roots with a joint venture with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to offer various militaries the Jeep Gladiator XMT, a military grade light truck based on the Jeep Gladiator.
Todays AM General continues operations with HMMWV support and upgrades.
Due to the focus of this book being largely upon on the evolution of a manufacturing company rather than on specific military vehicles, this book may not be for everyone. That said, for fans of the HMMWV line, the volume does contain much interesting backstory of the vehicle’s development and the “behind the scenes” history of the company. While I found some of the text concerning the many financial gyrations, mergers, acquisitions, bankruptcies, etc. a bit convoluted at times, I did find it interesting to see what all has to happen for a company to produce the necessary vehicles used by our military. There’s far more going on in the background than most of us realize.
As always, the author’s writing is fluid and easy to follow, even while covering areas that might be considered slightly dry due to their nature. The photographs selected by the author for this book are of a uniformly high quality.
While a bit different from the author’s usual norm / format, this is an interesting book with a somewhat different perspective to offer.
Highly Recommended ( for those with high interest in the HMMWV vehicles ) / Recommended ( for all others )
Thanks to David Doyle Books for the review copy
Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland
AMPS 2nd Vice President, Midwest Region
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