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The Wal-Mart Effect | [Charles Fishman]

The Wal-Mart Effect

Drawing on unprecedented interviews with former Wal-Mart executives and a wealth of staggering data�including facts such as this: Americans spend $36 million an hour at Wal-Mart stores, this text is an intimate look at a business that is dramatically reshaping the American economy.
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Publisher's Summary

Drawing on unprecedented interviews with former Wal-Mart executives and a wealth of staggering data - such as that Americans spend $36 million an hour at Wal-Mart stores - this is an intimate look at a business that is dramatically reshaping the American economy.

Wal-Mart is not only the world's largest company; it is also the largest company in the history of the world. Though 70 percent of Americans now live within a 15-minute drive of a Wal-Mart store, we have not even begun to understand the true power of the company and the many ways it is shaping American life. We know about the lawsuits and the labor protests, but what we don't know is how profoundly the "Wal-Mart effect" is shaping our lives.

Fast Company senior editor Fishman, whose revelatory cover story on Wal-Mart generated the strongest reader response in the history of the magazine, takes us on an unprecedented behind-the-scenes investigative expedition deep inside the many worlds of Wal-Mart. Fishman penetrated the secrecy of Wal-Mart headquarters, interviewing 25 high-level ex-executives. He journeyed into the world of a host of Wal-Mart's suppliers to uncover how the company strong-arms even the most established brands. And he journeyed to the ports and factories, the fields and forests where Wal-Mart's power is warping the very structure of the world's market for goods.

Wal-Mart is not just a retailer anymore, Fishman argues. It has become a kind of economic ecosystem, and anyone who wants to understand the forces shaping our world today must understand the company's hidden reach.

©2006 Charles Fishman; (P)2006 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"In the end, Fishman sees Wal-Mart as neither good nor evil, but simply a fact of modern life that can barely be comprehended, let alone controlled." (Publishers Weekly)
"He brings to light the serious repercussions that are occurring as consumers and suppliers have become locked in an addiction to massive sales of cheaper and cheaper goods." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (723 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Blake Novak 06-28-06
    Blake Novak 06-28-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing makes you see clearly"

    I loved this book. It hit home very much like the book "Fast Food Nation". It made me think about Walmart in a whole new way and how it has changed our society and business around the globe. It never states Walmart is good or bad... it just makes you see all sides of it and think about the future.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Bethesda, MD, United States 08-03-06
    James Bethesda, MD, United States 08-03-06 Member Since 2003
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    "Pass this one by.."

    While this book did teach me a few things I didn't know about Wal-Mart, ultimately, the analysis is largely superficial, and occasionally laughably wrong-headed. I particularly liked his view that if an economic analysis appears in a peer-reviewed journal than its conclusions are equivalent to scientific truths, or that a market where 80 % of the product isn't sold at Wal-Mart is unquestionably under Wal-Mart's control. If you are looking for a sophisticated economic analysis of Wal-Mart, this isn't it. He does level some valid criticisms at the company, but an equal number of his arguments fall well short of the mark.

    It's not even very well-written. It rambles and repeats itself, and there is a strained sort of muckraking/yellow journalism quality to the language which further undermines the credibility of the author.

    Spend your credits elsewhere.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul W. Johnson Somewhere in the USA 07-10-10
    Paul W. Johnson Somewhere in the USA 07-10-10 Member Since 2007
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    "Wal-Mart fans rejoice"

    Interesting overview within the first hour (9 CDs... yipes (9 hours)). I had to do a lot of ffwd after that, as it was very repetitive information. If you are a fan of Wal-Mart or Sam Walton then this book is for you. If you want some interesting insight on what effect the largest company in the world has and could have then "read" the first hour or so. Beyond that it is wayyyy too detailed on store numbers, managers and a dogmatic work ethic.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris St. George, Utah 07-01-09
    Chris St. George, Utah 07-01-09
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    "GREAT LISTEN!!!!"

    i loved it!!! such detailed analysis. it keeps you listening non-stop! wow! loved it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paige 08-15-08
    Paige 08-15-08 Member Since 2004
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    "Well done, balanced analysis"

    This is a very thorough, well done, and balanced analysis. It looks at the good and bad, financial and human impact of Wal-mart. It will validate some of your assumptions, but also provide insight into a surprising side of a retail giant that touches all of our lives, even if you don't shop there (at least according to the book). I found it went quickly for a download of this size, largely because of the case study format.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Trevor Connellsville, PA, USA 12-11-07
    Trevor Connellsville, PA, USA 12-11-07
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    "Intriguing"

    As the summary of the book states, it's a rare look into the secretive workings of the world's largest retailer. If you've ever shopped at Wal-Mart, as you undoubtedly have, this book is a must. It tells the story of the store's humble beginnings to it's present day effect over global economy, for better or worse.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vikki WICHITA, KS, United States 04-22-07
    Vikki WICHITA, KS, United States 04-22-07
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    "A Very enlightening book."

    I have a couple of friends who work for Walmart. Things that they have told me about the place got me curious. I was certainly delighted to find this audible book.
    I live in a very small town and we are getting a new Walmart super center built right down the road.
    I can honestly say that I now consider myself a "former" Walmart shopper. I will certainly take my business to Target. Yes, I'll miss Sam's Club but I'll get over it!
    I recommend this book to anyone who is a Walmart shopper or a former shopper.
    It simply amazed me to hear some of the tactics used by Walmart to be able to keep their prices lower. 95% of the products that Walmart carries are made in China! They are trying to bankrupt Target, Kmart, Sears, Lowes, & Home Depot just to name a few.
    Walmart carries the same products such as Lowes or Home Depot. The difference in the products other than the price is that Walmart has those same name brand products made in China, using cheaper and more light weight parts. Walmart coerces those manufacturers to be the ones who have to repair or replace the product if it malfunctions. Even though Walmart had it manufactured in China. This of course, is very costly to the maker. If the maker doesn't agree to these arrangements, then Walmart refuses to carry the product.
    I will NEVER set foot inside a Walmart again.
    If I can't buy American, I don't need it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marnie F. Biando Denver, CO 06-25-06
    Marnie F. Biando Denver, CO 06-25-06 Member Since 2005
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    "Excellent food for thought"

    This book went beyond some of the propaganda and "documentaries" I have found out there, which was a plus. Not wanting to repeat what the other reviewers have stated (because I agree that the presentation is very balanced in its nature), I will simply say that I found the content close to perfect: little repetition in message, and compelling enough for me to listen to the entire audiobook. The author has given me enough information that I will continue to resist any temptation to shop at Walmart.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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    Janet Austin, TX, United States 05-15-06
    Janet Austin, TX, United States 05-15-06 Member Since 2006
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    "Amazing!"

    Whether you love or hate Wal-mart - or if you don't even think about the world's largest retailer - you need to listen to this one! The author puts together a fascinating look at how Wal-Mart is effecting the global economy as well as the way YOU look at shopping. I loved it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Union City, CA, USA 07-18-06
    Michael Union City, CA, USA 07-18-06
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    "Thinly veiled disdain for Wal-Mart"

    The so called "even-handed" view of Wal-Mart given by the author is nothing more than a thinly veiled call for government regulation of America's largest companies, where Wal-Mart is, in this instance, painted as the leader of this power hungry, out-of-control pack. The early concessions about the good that Wal-Mart does are deliberately and repeatedly "refuted" by the constant reminders about the immense "costs" that Wal-Mart imposes on the world. It is quite clear that the author intended these concessions to make the book only ostensibly "even-handed". By the final chapter, however, this thin veil gives way to a diatribe, which at least honestly expresses the author's feelings, against the growing power of corporations in America and the need for regulation of these corporations. The author supports this rant with his personal, revisionist recount of business in America at the turn of the century when apparently America was nearly overrun by big business until government regulation saved us all.

    The "analysis" in this book is a joke, and it wouldn't surpise me if the author had never sat through even one class of micro or macro economics. For anyone who has, it will be quickly apparent that this author has no idea how free markets work. He thinks he does, but doesn't. It's particularly amusing when he starts describing Wal-Mart as a dominant force that cannot be controlled, which is immune to makret forces, acting like some economic blackhole the gravity of which cannot be resisted, but then claims that Wal-Mart is in a state of decline, unable to relate to consumers like Target and Whole Foods does.

    Save your money. Buy Economics in One Lesson. Hopefully, the author will.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
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