The story of how, in 49 days, the first jeep was created had gone untold over 70 years until Paul Bruno began an 11-year journey back to World War II.
“What sparked my interest was, when I found out the first jeep was created in 49 days by a bankrupt company, I knew that was a story that had to be amazing. And as I found out, it truly is. It’s kind of one of the most under built histories,” said Bruno, an independent consultant and professor for the International Institute for Learning.
The Colonie native, now Las Vegas resident, said that research began in 1999 with his wife. The two had tried to get a movie made retelling the history of the first jeep, even going so far as to write a screen play of it, but to no avail until the screenplay turned into a nonfiction book.
Then, three months ago, “Project Management in History: The First Jeep,” was published through Amazon.com’s CreateSpace self-publishing program with editor Manuel Freedman.
Bantam Car Company, a manufacturer nearly gone bankrupt, created the first jeep in 1941, Bruno said. The company won the bid from the United State Army to build “a revolutionary vehicle,” was given a deadline of 49 days and sent to work.
“They were ultimately successful,” Bruno said. “What was great about it is that they delivered the vehicle on the 49th day with half an hour to spare.”
Bruno said he worked to get the book published for two reasons. The first was as a way to honor his wife, who passed away several years ago. The second was to honor the men who had gone mostly ignored through history. After all, Bruno said, the jeep has been cited as one of the things that helped the Allied Powers win the war.
The book, however, is not a typical recounting of the history. Over the years, Bruno had been filing information for the book until he took a trip to the National Archives, where military records are kept.
The first time, he said, he found pieces of a transcript from a trial involving the Bantam Car Company. In the case, those who worked on the jeep had to relay information involving the project. When he went back to the Archives for a second time in 2013, Bruno pulled the trial transcripts and documents, and he knew then he had what he needed to finish the book.
“With the trial record, I had the mother load and Holy Grail of first jeep documentation,” Bruno said. “From a historic standpoint, I had a complete oral history. And the way I decided to write it is allow the people who created it tell the story in their own words.”
Much of the information Bruno found had not been published before and very few people knew about it. “The First Jeep” is comprised of original documentation and wording, rather than a typical historical nonfiction recounting of the events.
In the three months since its publication, the book has sold 221 copies as of last week. It’s available for sale on Amazon.com, in Barnes and Noble and through the Kindle software.
Bruno said that, while he doesn’t currently have any major projects, he has ideas for more books like “The First Jeep.” In a similar fashion, he wants to retell the story of “some major projects from history,” like the Hoover Dam and Panama Canal, from a project management standpoint.
“This book honors the legacy of these individuals that accomplished this amazing feat of building a revolutionary new vehicle of 49 days and to have the privilege and blessing to tell the story and bring it forward. Seeing the jeep on the road today is an incredibly humbling privilege,” Bruno said.