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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

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  • Story
  • Jaffe
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 09-07-11

Excellent--Fun to read and very informational.

Very entertaining, well written, and easy to listen to. Kept my interest throughout the entire book. The newly update afterward by the author was a delightlful surprise.

  • Overall
  • Marylou
  • Bend, OR, United States
  • 07-21-11

so one sided

all this crap about buying cheap and having to assemble.. geez have NEVER purchased a BBQ grill that I didn't have to assemble so that example was CRAP!! amongst about most of the rest in this book. talk about making comparisons that weren't. so deceiving!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Overall
  • Matthew
  • lenoir, NC, United States
  • 10-03-10

i thought it was fair

a few other reviewers thought it was lopsided or poor on economic theory. But thought it was as fair as it could be with the information present. It was worth a listen.

  • Overall
  • Stewart
  • 08-31-07

Consider the abridged version

Though I'm interested in these types of books T felt there was a little too much detail. This is one case where I would have preferred the abridged version. This is the first book that adjusted the speed to Faster on my iPod. the author says he was critical to Walmart but more often I felt like he an advocate for Walmart.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Very informative

Everyone in America should listen to this. It is an eye opener.

  • Overall


This book blew me away. I've shopped at Wal-Mart for years and am a "conflicted" buyer. Although I've had doubts about my Wal-Mart experiences in terms of conflict of conscious, this book distilled those chaotic thoughts into coherent logic. I have a lot to think about especially from a socially responsible point of view. The book is easy to understand and very well written.

  • Overall
  • Hallie
  • Florissant, CO, USA
  • 01-06-07

Great BOOK

Captivating from the first minute to the last. Brilliant analysis of Wal-Mart.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good Solid Book

This is a good informative book. It does not seem to be biased in any way, but does provide very interesting insights into the workings of Walmart. I liked it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • Stanhope, NJ, USA
  • 07-19-06

Wal-Mart Bashing

Reading this book I recalled a professor who in the 60's claimed Sears was destroying America. Big attracts such comments. I was hoping for discussions of cross docking and collaborative planning and forecasting and other supply chain innovations that Wal-Mart used to create an advantage. Instead it was 75% bashing. Big is evil.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Not what you expect

This was an amazingly even handed view of the effect of Walmart on the world. Dispells many myths and misconceptions. Provides a very fair over view of the effect of Walmart on neighborhoods, people, prices and international business. I would have given it 5 stars, but the last chapter was surprisingly stilted as it recounts the personal tales of ex-employees who lost their jobs because Walmart came into town. Surprising as it builds the case that jobs, overall, are NOT lost when Walmart comes to town. Otherwise a very interesting read if you are at all interested in business.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful