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The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business
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The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  89 ratings  ·  15 reviews
The definitive account of how a small Ozarks company upended the world of business and what that change means

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest company, roared out of the rural South to change the way business is done. Deploying computer-age technology, Reagan-era politics, and Protestant evangelism, Sam Walton’s firm became a byword for cheap goods and low-paid workers, famed
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 21st 2009 by Metropolitan Books (first published 2009)
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Andy Marton
Nelson Lichtenstein is telling us something we already know: Wal-Mart is evil. Its labor practices are horrendous and illegal, its wages can barely feed its workers, and its business practices turn small towns into ghost towns.

Lichtenstein goes so much further than telling us, in great detail, the depth of Wal-Mart's evil. He gives a fascinating history of Wal-Mart's rise, Sam Walton's genius in creating the corporation (as I much as I despise the man, I do have to admire Walton's keen business
The first section is the background on Sam Walton and all his innovations in retail. It was a little dry. Then, there are chapters on the anti-union stance, the factories in China, and the international spread of Wal-Mart, among others. It was interesting and informative, but not the most engaging. I kept thinking about the New Yorker and how they must have done a (much more interesting) profile on Walton and/or Wal-Mart.
On the reading front I have been reading Nelson Lichtenstein's The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart created a brave new world of Business (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2009). Lichtenstein a professor of history does a really good job of contextualing the rise of Wal-Mart and how their business practices fit into a larger history of retailing, economics and North America. I have read most of the books written about Wal-Mart, with most being either indictments or celebrations of the company. Licht ...more
I believe that criticisms need to be not only substantiated, but also based on premises that are either established or understood. Based on that belief, I did not think this was a good book. The author cited criticisms of Wal-Mart about how they were anti-union or other supposed problems. But the author never took it to the next step of showing why being anti-union fulfilled his premise that Wal-Mart was bad. I, for one, was glad that Wal-Mart had so much success against the unions. The author t ...more

This is a balanced history and a fair appraisal regarding Wal-Mart itself, the influence it has regarding all direct and indirect sectors of the retail industry, and the company's direct and indirect impact on the world in general. Want a better understanding of most things Wal-Mart?…This is the book to read…

Laurel Cornell
Aug 13, 2009 Laurel Cornell marked it as to-read
Fascinating presentation by this author on Fresh Air today. He seems very even-handed. Great sources of data. Says that, yes, Walmart does offer lower prices, but only on 20% of the things we buy. The other 80% --- health care, housing, transportation, eduction --- we can't buy there, so their lower prices have no overall effect on much of the economy. And their workers are hurt, because the low wages they offer make it very difficult for the workers to buy these necessities. Walmart has also el ...more
John Rivera
Great and easy to read work. The author does not offer another typical Walmart-bashing book that the market seems flooded with. Instead he offers a critique of the transformation of the modern retail industry with Walmart at the epicenter and also provides a criticism of Walmart's approach to labor relations.
Loved this book. Very interesting and I learned a lot. Would never/do never shop at Walmart but it was interesting to learn how they got their start, grew, and many of their evil tactics. The way they treat their labor has been terrible since the very beginning! An entertaining as well as educational read.
I am a rich, over-educated, elitist, white person - so naturally I never shop at Walmart.

After finishing this book, I can now articulate the baseless assumptions I hold against this retailer.

[hint: They're not that base-less.]
Not a rant on WM, so its fans should not be offended by anything here. He states the facts and lets the reader draw his or her own conclusions for the most part. I would give it 3.5 stars if that were an option.
an even-handed indictment of the retail monster that dominates our economy. the new definitive book on wal*mart
Useful history/analysis of the Wal*Mart phenonemon, if you're interested in that sort of thing.
Evan Thomas
A decent history of Wal-Mart's innovation and impact on the global economy.
Margaret Dillon
This finely researched book gave me even more reasons not to shop at Walmart.
Sep 21, 2010 Hillary added it
Shelves: library
wow. worth the read.
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Nelson Lichtenstein is a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy.
More about Nelson Lichtenstein...
State of the Union: A Century of American Labor Wal-Mart: The Face Of Twenty-First-Century Capitalism The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit: Walter Reuther and the Fate of American Labor Labor's War at Home: The CIO in World War II (Labor in Crisis) American Capitalism: Social Thought and Political Economy in the Twentieth Century

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