The True Story of the Original Jeep
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If this book is not in your library, you are NOT an American Bantam historian! Ninety percent of the correct facts of this book are directly opposed to the prevailing myth of the “Genesis of the Jeep”….Rifkind will roll over in his grave!
Oh c’mon Bruce..it’s not all THAT dramatic…Rifkind is fine for the procurement of the jeep after it was designed and built…but, Genesis, not so much. However he did not name his paper that..the Brits did. Did you get yours already?
Every year at the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento I teach the upcoming docent class the some history and details about American Austin and Bantam. I end the presentation with the Bantam jeep and show a few photos of the models. But I can never recommend anything for them to read about the BRC or its correct history BUT now I can! Well done William Spear!
Great Lynn..the clubs owe you so much for all the work you have done…
Hey..let me know if they want to sell a few copies up there in ths store :~)
Just got this one from a non jeep guy who Bought an advance copy in our studio this summer…nice!
12/19/2016 and I just received the book. Super-heavy, amazing work of research and writing, and I really look forward to reading every page of it! Never in my 84 years have I paid this much for a book! And never in my 84 years have I been so pleased over owning a book!! Thank you, Bill! Your huge effort is greatly appreciated!
My copy of WARBABY was delivered to me by the USPS at 8:00 a.m. this morning, 8 hours before my usual very late afternoon mail delivery. The production specs are spectacular; sturdy and beautifully imprinted hard cover, excellent binding, and crisp clear text and photographs on eggshell white pages, which makes reading a delight rather than an exercise in glare avoidance. I have read snippets from the book, and each one has been outstanding. I love what I see. I’m looking forward to a deliciously slow and thorough reading over the weekend, and a more detailed review will follow thereafter.
However, there is one preproduction value worthy of note: the excellent box the book is shipped it has rectangular hollow ends that prevent the book’s corners from being damaged although the box itself is squished in every corner. This is the first time I recalled seeing a book box with practical crush zones, and I imagine it took less than 49 days to design and get this protective box into production. It is the attention to these small details that makes this purchase a wonderfully rewarding experience from beginning to end. Congratulations, Bill, on a very classy and significant contribution to the jeep hobby! 😀 😀
Wow..thanks Fred. Coming from the author of the jeep classic “The Selling of the All-American Wonder” I am very flattered indeed. I have often wondered hiw many buyers of the book will actually read the book, but I am guessing you will be one of them. Hope you enjoy it, and overlook a few places where I may get over my head…my real hope for the book is that it will arouse interest in people to not just do further research but to look around their attics and garages, and talk to old relatives. As much detail as it seems to have, I am sure there are several more books worth out there somewhere…it really makes the hobby interesting. Already I have a guy whose grandmother knows all the Butler people in the roll out picture for instance. Thanks again, and for spreading the good word..I gotta get RID of these things!:~)
I received my books yesterday. I agree with all the above comments. It is an accurate historical and pictorial story of the Bantam BRC. I encourage all jeep enthusiasts, not just BRC owners, to purchase this book. Thanks Bill for all your many years of hard work and research to create this book.
I read a lot of history books, rather than novels. I just finished Warbaby. It was one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time. The history is complex, but you did a masterful job holding it together. You are right, the use of footnotes would have detracted from the flow. We have seen snippets of the story over the years in Rooster Tails and the AABC newsletter and more recently in the BRC.com website, but your book really “tells” the story. Well done! Your diligence has paid off with a masterful work.
Looking forward to receiving the book! Sounds like it will be a great addition to my reference library.
If you think you know the full Jeep story and haven’t read this book, you are fooling yourself. Warbaby is the most comprehensive telling of the Bantam story to date and a Jeep library is not complete without it.
Thanks Jim…High praise indeed from a pro like you. I am very flattered.(Tell your friends :~)
Now that I have finally finished reading this book, here are my thoughts. I love this book! At nearly 400 beautiful pages, “WARBABY – The True Story of the Original Jeep” by William Spear is a highly significant new book that thoroughly explores the origin of the very first ¼ ton 4×4 vehicle, the Bantam Reconnaissance Car. It is a thick and delicious banquet of early jeep facts and images that is a treat to consume. The book itself is striking, from its thick embossed hard bound cover to the clear text and sharp images reproduced on its pages. Handling it is a sensual pleasure; reading it feeds the brain.
The creation of the very first jeep is a human story. The author introduces us to a whole cast of characters through brief biographies and photographs. Their contributions or roadblocks, and their opinions and recollections, are set forth in their own words and thoughts as gleaned from biographies, correspondence, memoirs and testimony given in government proceedings. Each character comes alive as their likely emotions and motivations are fleshed out based on the written word and some informed speculation.
The book is very fact based, and the author goes out of his way to distinguish fact from speculation. The facts are laid out chronologically as the story unfolds and the BRC develops. In a calm and detailed chronological analysis, the author makes the case that two men were primarily responsible for the creation and design of the BRC. They are Bantam’s independent sales representative, Harry Payne, whose persistence solidified an amorphous desire for a new light weight vehicle within segments of the U.S. Army; and Bantam’s modest factory manager, Harold Crist, whose track-honed midget car racing knowledge guided the design and construction of the first BRC, as well as subsequent production.
Milestones are often depicted by photographs of material events, or ideas through sketches and engineering drawings. Primary reference source materials are the transcripts of various government proceedings conducted during and after WW II, which capture the facts and recollections of many participants while still fresh in their minds. Numerous direct quotations of theirs taken from these proceeding’s transcripts inform our opinions of them because we hear the participants speak in their own words.
Though long and dense with facts and images, WARBABY is written in many small chapters and verses so can be picked up and read in snippets at one’s leisure. It contains many delightful photos of different Bantam jeeps being tested and evaluated at camps and forts all over the U.S.A., which when viewed transport us back to that time.
The research and scholarship that went into this book is absolutely first rate. The presentation is more than fair to other views. The main thesis is understated, making it all the more convincing. The author’s imputation and speculation is clearly identified and distinguished from uncontested facts. Earlier accounts of the Bantam story are analyzed and gently found inaccurate or misleading, while the author flags a few areas deserving of further research to answer some open questions.
This book is fantastic reading for anyone interested in learning about the true origin of the very first Bantam ¼ ton 4×4 car that became known as the jeep. The story is as compelling as it is fresh and informative. Owning this book is the second best thing to owning an actual Bantam BRC. Bill, thanks so very much from all us dreamers!
I doubt there are adequately descriptive words to justly convey the depth & significance of this tome. The effort that you obviously have put into this is difficult to imagine; what an astounding result ! It requires devouring in small portions to best savor & fully appreciate such a magnificent, must have, addition to one’s library. My friend, you are to be congratulated for so brilliantly illuminating this history.
My copy arrived the other day…truly a labor of love. Can’t wait to delve deep into it. Thank you Mr. Spear, for putting this all together. Super job.
Mr. Spears, I am very happy and excited to hear you have finally written a book. I can’t wait to get my hands on it! Doing my own research on American Bantam a few years ago, I came across your articles on the subject. I am a retired military vet with many war deployments under my belt. I retired in 2015. I was even stationed in Anchorage, AK for five years.
What I find interesting is what role the original jeep played in WWII and what vehicles are used in today’s combat zones. The Humvee, MRAP, and other larger vehicles are procured by the Department of Defense to do what the jeep did then. However, in a somewhat diminished role, the side-by-side (UTV) is the new jeep of the military. You cannot go to any deployed base and not find one. I believe there is a strong family connection between the original jeep and the current UTV. Those little side-by-sides just didn’t arrive out of thin air. I believe the idea of a light off road utility vehicle didn’t die. It evolved. Thank you for all the research and great writing on the BRC! Those men from Bantam should have received medals for what they created.
Well, you will learn in the book that the key design feature of the jeep was small size and light weight along with a bit more power than you would find in a “minicar”… and that the Infantry was insistent that the small size and weight not be discarded by the QMC. Of course in 1940 the current lightweight materials and precision machining techniques were not available to designers…especially in a crash program like this where cast iron and steel were what was at hand. I have to agree that the sense of these qualities is being rediscovered in some of the modern weapons…In fact, we could wonder how a WWII jeep would do as is in today’s service!
Hi Bill —-
First, I’m very disappointed to learn that you are going out of business. You’re still a young guy. What are your plans for the next episode of your life.?
I’m ordering one of your books. Please autograph it to “Bob Church, a long time customer of your enamel work; the best that I have ever seen”
Your work will be sorely missed, but if you keep the same email address, I can at least keep up with your activities.
Very sincerely (to you and your lovely wife),
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