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The Reckoning by David Halberstam

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34. A VACANCY AT CHRYSLER

LYNN TOWNSEND, SMART, FACILE, and abrasive, became president of Chrysler in the first place because the company was in serious trouble. He was purely a numbers man. (An early, admiring profile of him in Fortune began, “The figures talk to Lynn Townsend....”) He had had a hard childhood. As a boy he kept the books in his father’s auto repair shop. He was orphaned at fourteen and worked his way through the University of Michigan, where he was considered a truly gifted accounting student. Upon graduation he worked for a Detroit accounting firm, then went off to World War II. When he returned he joined Touche Ross, then new but eventually one of the nation’s largest accounting firms, where he was soon put to work on the ...

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