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Book Review of

"AM General- The First 50 Years : 1971-2021"


By Christophe Jacquemont


Basic Item Information


AM General- The First 50 Years : 1971-2021


David Doyle


David Doyle Books




Soft Cover

Number of Pages

144 Pages
Number/Type of Photos and/or Illustrations

131 Color Photos & Illustrations and 49 Black/White Photos

Text Language


Retail Price

$29.99 USD


Christophe Jacquemont

Review Date

June 17, 2022

Review Summary

Review Type

Full Read 

Basic Positive Features

In-depth history of the AM General firm, supported by a wealth of detailed information and photos.

Basic Negative Features None


Hightly Recommended




Detailed Review

First off, I must be candid and confess I'm a big fan of the author, David Doyle, whose recent publications have been nothing short of outstanding (especially his ‘Legends of Warfare’ series and his work for the ‘Images of War’ franchise). I also very much enjoyed his volume on the Cleveland Tank Plant and was expecting something similar for ‘AM General- The First 50 Years:1971-2021’.  However, surprisingly this book turned out to be a quite different type of book.

This has obviously been a labor of love for David Doyle, who had been researching the subject of AM General for literally decades prior. He describes in minute detail the creation and development of the company over the years. This means you get comprehensive information through 2021 covering the people instrumental to the firm's successes and failures, the takeovers (with full financial detail), the factories, the social unrest (strikes, etc.), the licensed productions and lines carried over from other manufacturers, the new projects, etc.

With all the resulting data and figures provided, the reading can feel a little bit arid at times, but it's most likely the flip-side of the author's desire to be exhaustive. The book is quite bold in that it hasn't an exclusively military scope.  It also covers civilian bus production and manufacture of postal service vehicles as well as civilian variants of the HMMWV ‘Hummer’, thus reflecting the sheer diversity and flexibility of the AM General brand. This is an exception I think amongst the author's litterature, which covers warfare in its many forms as well as military hardware for land, air and sea.

The work takes the history of the brand chronologically, and is divided into the following chapters.

1. American Motors takes over from Kaiser Jeep

2. The General Products Division of American Motors is Formed

3. AM General Corporation is formed

4. AM General Strives for innovation

5. The End of the Cruse Moss Era and the birth of the HMMWV

6. A New Product - and a New Owner – 1983-1985

7. The End of an Era - and the End of an Owner

8. Turning the Lights out on Chippewa

9. The Company is Reshaped

10. A New General Comes to Town

11. Back to the Sand Box

12. Closing in on the Golden Anniversary

I won't give you a detailed rundown of the book's content, but will just mention the highlights for me as a military vehicle entusiast. I especially enjoyed the parts covering the HMMWV and Hummer, and the US Postal Service Jeeps (a guilty pleasure). Many will relate to the sections of the book dealing with civilian bus production depending on their hometown.  For instance, I appreciated the section on Washington DC buses, having lived in DC for a total of nine years.  

There are also some precious tidbits of information within the photo captions.  For instance, I hadn't realized that the AM General and Ford-built M151A2s can be told apart by visual differences. Speaking of the photos, they are numerous and well chosen. Pics of HMMWVs are often printed full page in glorious color and most were new to me ; except one that had been my desktop picture for many years!



Overall an unusual, atypical and unconventional book that is nevertheless a very enjoyable read of an American industrial saga. I'm sure I will come back to it regularly for information and photographs.


Highly Recommended.


Thanks to David Doyle for the Review Sample.

Copyright: Christophe Jacquemont -June 2022