David Halberstam’s books include The Best and the Brightest , The Powers That Be , and The Reckoning . This article is excerpted from The Fifties , which will be published by Villard Books, a division of Random House, in June.
He invented modern mass production. He gave the world the first people’s car, and his countrymen loved him for it. But at the moment of his greatest triumph, he turned on the empire he had built—and on the son who would inherit it.