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Winter reading for International Harvester enthusiasts

The family behind the IH brand? Or a book for IH Cub tractor owners?

We’ve come across two books that International Harvester enthusiasts might want to make time to read during this cold winter season.

Founding family history

This summer we read through The International Harvester Company: A History of the Founding Families and Their Machines, written by Chaim M. Rosenberg and published by McFarland.

This isn’t the typical machinery coffee table book filled with glossy images that detail the evolution of a brand’s tractors and machinery. Instead, this paperback takes a deep dive into the personalities that made up the McCormick and Deering families, who eventually merged their firms to form International Harvester, once the world’s largest farm machinery manufacturer. It looks at the rise and, arguably, the fall of a family’s business empire.

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There are some images in this book, but they are all black and white, and many of them are of the personalities behind the machines, not the machines themselves. What the book may lack in glossy images, it makes up for in interesting details of the two families. In fact, the book reads a little like a plot summary of the ’70s TV show Dallas.

Rosenberg sheds light on the idiosyncrasies, back-stabbing and bickering among members of the families that can best be described as the uber riche of their day, not to mention the hostile acts toward competitors that would have made J.R. Ewing proud.

The families were key figures in the early development of the city of Chicago, where their factories were located. In fact, the Great Fire reputedly started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow cost the McCormick family a lot of money, because its factory was destroyed in it.

Many family members were prominent patrons of the arts, donating millions to art galleries and other institutions. And Rosenberg found many interactions by the McCormicks and Deerings with prominent political figures in U.S. history, such as Abraham Lincoln, who acted as a lawyer in one of the many civil suits Cyrus McCormick brought against his competitors.

This well researched book is an interesting profile in how the right invention at the right time lifted a pair of families from obscurity to the peak society and industry in a time of great social and political change, not only in the U.S. but also around the world. After reading this book, you may never look at that old IH tractor the same way again.

The 256 page book is available online from McFarlandBooks.com (or by calling 1-800-253-2187) for U.S. $49.95.

IH Cub how-to

There aren’t a whole lot of Farmall Cub tractors left, but of those that are a surprising number are still working for a living. Their size and design has made them the perfect machine for today’s market gardeners and small-scale hobby farmers — just like they were originally designed to be. A few manufacturers still make implements designed to work the little tractor.

A new book, Farmall Cub Encyclopedia, from Octane Press is aimed at those Cub owners. It provides a broad range of repair tips and is “the essential guide” to owning one of these little gems.

The 160-page book is available direct from the publisher online at Octanepress.com for U.S. $40.

Photo: Octane Press

About the author

Machinery Editor

Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is the machinery editor for Grainews.

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