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

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  113 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 21st 2009 by Metropolitan Books (first published 2009)
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Sep 14, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Andy Marton
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 23, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Laurel Cornell
Aug 13, 2009 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
Jun 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: project-2014

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…

John Rivera
Nov 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.]
May 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
an even-handed indictment of the retail monster that dominates our economy. the new definitive book on wal*mart
Margaret Dillon
Aug 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
This finely researched book gave me even more reasons not to shop at Walmart.
Evan Thomas
A decent history of Wal-Mart's innovation and impact on the global economy.
Aug 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Useful history/analysis of the Wal*Mart phenonemon, if you're interested in that sort of thing.
May 25, 2010 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.
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