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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Story

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Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Chris
  • St. George, Utah
  • 07-01-09

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

  • Overall

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

  • Overall
  • Trevor
  • Connellsville, PA, USA
  • 12-11-07

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

  • Overall

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

  • Overall

Conflicted about Walmart

Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with Walmart. The shopping experience is a chore, customer service is non existent most of the time, yet the prices are great. This book confirmed many of the things that I had thought including "lower prices may mean lower quality."

As a mother of three boys, I shop there for necessities, but now I'm wondering if the health of my family is worth it. Sure the bread is cheaper, but is it really bread?? Is it really healthy food for my kids or am I just feeding them the equivalent of cheap dog food. Something to ponder...

No matter how you feel about Walmart, you'll see how Walmart has changed our economy for the good and bad...Your eyes will be opened.... Interesting, educational, and even entertaining listen. Highly recommended.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Susan
  • jefferson, OH, USA
  • 05-20-06

An actual fair and balanced, fact-based view

I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I downloaded this book - another bashing of the largest corporation in the world, or a love fest. What I got from this read was a real world look at what Wal-Mart has done that's good, bad, and really scary from the standpoint of how many people are afraid to speak about their Wal-Mart experience from a supplier point of view. I definitely recommend this book to people who are interested in finding out how consumerism is changing the American landscape and things you might want to change about how you purchase goods and services.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Michael
  • Union City, CA, USA
  • 07-18-06

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 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jami
  • VICTOR, NY, United States
  • 05-16-17

The Wal-Mart Effect Explained

This was very interesting and informative. Most people have an instant association with Wal-Mart, either positive or negative. This book provides a balanced look at the Wal-Mart effect, citing both the advantages and disadvantages of having Wal-Mart. I had always heard that Wal-Mart forces smaller businesses to close and takes away jobs, but I never saw any studies to support this one way or the other....until now. The author also raises some issues and points that I never thought of before, such as explaining Wal-Mart's actions in terms of its mission to provide lower prices and some of its techniques to achieve this. And yes, there is also some of the low-down, gritty stuff, such as how Wal-Mart treats it suppliers and how many of those associated with Wal-Mart, both past and present, are fearful to speak out.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Meh

it was hard to get through. Seemed to only want to attack Walmart and blame it for the shortcomings of others

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Fylynne
  • CHICAGO, IL, United States
  • 09-30-16

What an Effect!this

The author simply and effectively explained how Wal-Mart has changed the world. In my opinion, the growth and policies of Wal-Mart along with the cooperation of local governments has made it into something that has become too big too fail. That's not good. The book should be read by people interested in business and political leaders thinking of inviting Wal-Mart into their communities.