| December 2004

Check out this sleigh-load of great reads

If those near and dear to you describe you as 'hard to shop for,' give them a hand this holiday season. Santa's bag is packed with several super new books, any one of which would be a prize for an old iron enthusiast. All you have to do is find a red pen, circle a few titles and leave the magazine out in plain sight, strategically open to these pages. Leave the rest to the elves!

Johnny Popper fan? Put John Deere: A History of the Tractor on your holiday list. But you'd better hope Santa tucks this gift under the tree and not in your stocking, because the sheer heft of this book could pull the mantle off the fireplace.

Written by Randy Leffingwell, and packed with more than 300 very fine Leffingwell photographs (and Deere archival images) of restored and original John Deere tractors, this book traces tractor development at Deere & Company from 1912 to present day. Leffingwell's book differs from similar efforts in that he shares the voice of longtime Deere & Company engineer Theo Brown in telling the tale. Brown, director of Deere's Plow Works experimental division from 1916 to 1952, was on the front line of nearly every major campaign at Deere during a period of stunning technological evolution. Brown's journal entries and drawings, reproduced extensively throughout the book, recreate the tone of that era in a fresh, new way.

John Deere: A History of the Tractor touches on the roots of the Waterloo Boy, the challenge to Ford, development of the mechanical cultivator, the GP Bean tractor and the John Deere Lindeman, as well as the arrival of pneumatic tires for tractors and the impact of the Great Depression. The book recounts the influence of Henry Dreyfuss on industrial design, the William Hewitt years, and the company's growing emphasis on safety. Leffingwell tells a familiar tale, but this version takes plenty of interesting twists and turns, and will interest everyone from the novice to the seasoned collector.

John Deere: A History of the Tractor, by Randy Leffingwell, published in 2004 by Motor books International, ISBN 0-7603-1861-1, 384 pages, hardback.

If you're interested in antique farm equipment, the Encyclopedia of American Farm Implements & Antiques is a must for your library. Now in its second edition, the Encyclopedia has been updated since it was first published in 1997. Assembled as a labor of love by noted authority C.H. Wendel, the book covers everything from A to zed in comprehensive fashion.