• Fulfillment

  • Winning and Losing in One-Click America
  • By: Alec MacGillis
  • Narrated by: Danny Gavigan
  • Length: 12 hrs and 22 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (189 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $25.51

Buy for $25.51

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

2021 NPR Best Book of the Year

An award-winning journalist investigates Amazon’s impact on the wealth and poverty of towns and cities across the United States.

In 1937, the famed writer and activist Upton Sinclair published a novel bearing the subtitle A Story of Ford-America. He blasted the callousness of a company worth “a billion dollars” that underpaid its workers while forcing them to engage in repetitive and sometimes dangerous assembly line labor. Eighty-three years later, the market capitalization of Amazon.com has exceeded one trillion dollars, while the value of the Ford Motor Company hovers around 30 billion. We have, it seems, entered the age of one-click America - and as the coronavirus makes Americans more dependent on online shopping, its sway will only intensify.

Alec MacGillis’ Fulfillment is not another inside account or exposé of our most conspicuously dominant company. Rather, it is a literary investigation of the America that falls within that company’s growing shadow. As MacGillis shows, Amazon’s sprawling network of delivery hubs, data centers, and corporate campuses epitomizes a land where winner and loser cities and regions are drifting steadily apart, the civic fabric is unraveling, and work has become increasingly rudimentary and isolated.

Ranging across the country, MacGillis tells the stories of those who’ve thrived and struggled to thrive in this rapidly changing environment. In Seattle, high-paid workers in new office towers displace a historic Black neighborhood. In suburban Virginia, homeowners try to protect their neighborhood from the environmental impact of a new data center. Meanwhile, in El Paso, small office supply firms seek to weather Amazon’s takeover of government procurement, and in Baltimore a warehouse supplants a fabled steel plant. Fulfillment also shows how Amazon has become a force in Washington, DC, ushering listeners through a revolving door for lobbyists and government contractors and into CEO Jeff Bezos’s lavish Kalorama mansion.

With empathy and breadth, MacGillis demonstrates the hidden human costs of the other inequality- not the growing gap between rich and poor, but the gap between the country’s winning and losing regions. The result is an intimate account of contemporary capitalism: its drive to innovate; its dark, pitiless magic; its remaking of America with every click.

A Macmillan Audio production from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

©2021 Alec MacGillis and Stefan Alexander MacGillis (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about Fulfillment

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    123
  • 4 Stars
    39
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    6
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    100
  • 4 Stars
    36
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    5
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    88
  • 4 Stars
    40
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    12
  • 1 Stars
    5

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Missing some important angles

The story is very relevant, and using Amazon as a touchstone for the topic works well to show how the country's been divided into actively growing areas, and stagnant areas, and it's human impact.

However, McGillis misses key parts of the story, that makes the book annoyingly lopsided. Two examples, of many:

The author did not investigate why people prefer online shopping, and before that large box stores like Walmart or Target, and before that, department stores like Sears or JCPenney's that moved in and knocked out local stores in the early 20th century. A key element of the story is how people who are being impacted by the changes described were also the main driver behind those changes. This is an ironic part of the story, that should have been covered in the book. As a result, the narrative reads as if Amazon came in and crushed the competition, somehow forcing people to buy from Amazon instead of the local competition. The reality is quite different. Having lived through the age of department stores that had overpriced merchandise and poor selection, or local stores with the same problem, it's not surprising that people pick a big box store, and when Amazon came in and made the selection wider, and the shopping easier, than the big box store, people switched to that mode of shopping.

The entire analysis misses the driver behind the success of Amazon, or Uber, or any any number of other new technology companies ... namely that they exploited weaknesses, poor service, and other problems, in the industries they displaced. and, for the narrative of the story, the people who switched their buying from the previous type of service to the current type of service are the same people who are being impacted by the eroded earning power and poor job prospects.

similarly, the author makes the point that the concentration of a relatively small number of high paid jobs, In a few communities, has left many regional cities behind. This is an important point, but also misses the practical reality of attracting talent for companies. There's more to living in Seattle than the presence of other high-tech companies. Companies want to locate where there is a progressive reputation, real or imagined, to support a diverse workforce that they need to attract the top talent. Additionally, many professionals are dual career families, and need to be in regions where both spouses can find strong employment. Many of the regional cities have gone the opposite direction, becoming less progressive, less supportive of diversity, and therefore less attractive to business.

The bottom line is the book was on the right track to make a good set of points, but the unwillingness to explore the drivers behind these changes, and to portray all of the changes as if happening unstimulated, destroyed the points that book was trying to make.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Where is this author going?

I had to check the description of the book because I had no idea where this book was/is going.

It felt like the author was writing in circles; made me dizzy.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

misleading

could fit the info on Amazon in one chapter, the rest of the book was about random people.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I'm surprised

How is it possible to let down your own country and exploit it so badly?
This book is an eye opener on how the Amazon model is the absolute enemy of any society.
The American dream is dead and the society is sliding in the ground... and everybody loves it... I don't get it.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A cautionary tale for American.

Fulfillment is a dual edged blade. The stories of our economic imbalances are really driven home.

How we deal with it is an ongoing narrative

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fulfilled

I liked how the book explained how the last twenty or more years has changed how people shop, work and survive with facts and documentation before and after the internet.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent information. Fast reading. Too fast?

Great information but the reader reads so fast and with so little inflection that honestly he makes the subject difficult to understand. Or to care about. I know it’s important but he reads it like let’s get through this and not like let’s try to glean some knowledge from it. New reader? Or just add a pause here or there JB your speech pattern. Maybe a rising and falling of vocal pitch. Something.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A good overview of our new reality

MacGillis uses real life case studies and real people situations to show and describe the wealth gap, tech greed and overt power takeover by tech, namely Amazon.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An eye opener

I almost wrote this book off after the first three chapters but boy am I glad I didn’t! I bought the book and opted to listen to the audiobook. It is incredibly insightful and eye opening. I have always enjoyed my Amazon experience but that experience like the millions that transact daily come at a staggering cost. This book really makes you question the road we are heading down with one click on demand shopping and it is scary.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Strong first half, second half a rant on amazon.

I really enjoyed the descriptions of the evolution of certain cities and the history of Bethlehem Steel. The personal stories are good. But the latter half of the book is just a rant on Amazon ( I’m no fan) and it detracts from what could have been a much stronger story.