Bedaux

Blending my interests in history, business ethics, and data, this project is a historical biography of Charles E. Bedaux (1886-1944). Bedaux was a renowned Franco-American efficiency system consultant and friends with elite business, government and espionage circles in Europe and America. Many prestigious publications wrote about him, including Fortune, the Harvard Business ReviewThe EconomistThe New Yorker and the New York Times. Even Vogue.

Charles and Fern Bedaux in 1937.

A wealthy, powerful, and mercurial man, he has been called many things: from an ‘arbiter between capital and labor’, a ‘capitalist monster’, ‘synonymous with gross industrial tyranny’ and a ‘Mephistophelean little Franco-American efficiency expert’, to a ‘fascist bloodsucker’, ‘the Devil’, and even the ‘most dangerous man in Western Europe’.

He allegedly collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War Two and died in U.S. custody in Miami in 1944.

Bedaux died in custody in 1944, awaiting trial for his wartime activity

Bedaux is best remembered as the 1937 wedding host of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. He should also be remembered for earning a fortune from the ‘Bedaux B Unit of Human Power Measurement’, the ‘Bedaux Sub-Arctic Expedition’ across the Canadian Rockies, building an international consultancy empire, and working with the German and Vichy regimes.

He was also the cause of the ‘Second Abdication Crisis’ of early November 1937, which features in very few historical accounts.

Compared by contemporaries to a Hollywood movie, Bedaux’s life remains controversial yet under-explored

This project is the result of a decade of groundbreaking detective work and rigorous research in dozens of public and private repositories around the world. It draws on a rich collection of novel sources in eight languages. Incorporating hitherto unexamined intelligence dossiers, never-before-seen letters, secret diaries, and forgotten grassroots voices from dozens of local newspapers and activist groups, not a stone has gone unturned.

Political expediency, scarcity of verifiable historical sources, and even forgery have made it impossible to write Bedaux’s definitive biography, nor assess his substantial impact on the world. Until now.

‘The only reliable biography’ of Bedaux
David Edgerton, The Rise and Fall of the British Nation (2018).

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