OVERRIDE

The Retail Revolution

How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business

Nelson Lichtenstein

Picador

Wal-Mart is the world’s largest company and it sets the standard--both social and commercial--for a huge swath of the global economy. In this probing investigation, historian Nelson Lichtenstein shows how the company's success has spread evangelical Protestantism into the workplace, made South China an American workshop, and pushed American politics to the right. At the same time, he anticipates a day of reckoning, when challenges to the Wal-Mart way, at home and abroad, are likely to change the far-flung empire. Insightful and original, The Retail Revolution gives a fresh and necessary understanding of the phenomenon that has reshaped international commerce.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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INTRODUCTION

FROM BENTONVILLE TO GUANGDONG

Shopping has become the most important thing we do to keep America's $13 trillion economy humming. It is the retailers, Wal-Mart first among them, who have become the key players in the worldwide marketplace of our time. They are the new business giants fueling the China boom, building huge container ports on every continent, and transforming the metropolitan landscape at home. Controlling more than half of all world trade, they make the markets, set the prices, and determine the worldwide distribution of labor to produce that
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Retail Revolution

“A terrific book... Lichtenstein does a beautiful job of putting Wal-Mart in its historical context... A definitive account not only of Wal-Mart’s past but also of the forces shaping its future.” —Los Angeles Times

“Nelson Lichtenstein has written the book on Wal-Mart. You can read it as a sober indictment of the rogue company that happens also to be the world’s largest corporation. Or you can read it as a brilliantly reported case study in what’s gone wrong with the American—and the global—economy. Either way, you will read it, as I did, with complete fascination.” —Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed

“Offers penetrating insights… Lichtenstein sheds valuable light on the technological reasons for Wal-Mart’s success… and provides a detailed look at the dark side of the company’s employment practices.… As Lichtenstein argues, Wal-Mart may have done more than any other American institution to undermine labor regulations.” —The New York Times Book Review

The Retail Revolution is usefully comprehensive and offers the best account yet of the myriad problems that Wal-Mart employees endure.” —Slate.com
“Surely the best account we have of Wal-Mart’s metamorphosis from a backwater chain to the nation’s dominant corporation... The rise of Wal-Mart, and the national economy it has shaped in its image, is a story that Lichtenstein is eminently suited to tell.” —The American Prospect

“Comprehensive socioeconomic history… Lichtenstein paints a convincing portrait of a multinational conglomerate willing to dehumanize people in the pursuit of profit, even as it tries to convince us that people are its No. 1 concern. A definitive survey of Wal-Mart and the company’s worldview.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“America’s wisest historian of business and labor has produced a masterpiece of reportage and analysis about the self-service country store that grew into the biggest merchandiser in the world. The Retail Revolution is far more than the best book ever written about Wal-Mart. It is a landmark work about the history of our time.” —Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan
 
“This lively yet incisive account of Wal-Mart, one of our era’s most important economic institutions, challenges the claim that the company has been a boon to the U.S. economy, providing a thoughtful and much-needed perspective on inequality and insecurity in modern America.” —Sanford M. Jacoby, author of The Embedded Corporation
 
“Lichtenstein’s calmly critical book sets the rise of Wal-Mart within its broader historical and cultural context, adding a valuable new perspective to the often fraught debate over the role of the world’s largest retailer.” —Jonathan Birchall, U.S. consumer correspondent, The Financial Times
 
“Nelson Lichtenstein is the paramount authority on the world’s largest and most influential company, one that affects the lives of nearly all Americans and has transformed traditional business. In The Retail Revolution, original research and a profound understanding of American capitalism combine to produce a vivid account not only of how Wal-Mart has changed society, but how society in turn is now changing Wal-Mart.”  —Ron Galloway, director of Why Wal-Mart Works
 
“Readers wishing to grasp the brave new world of Wal-Mart in all its dimensions can’t do better than Nelson Lichtenstein’s engrossing and chilling account.” —Robert Kuttner, co-editor of The American Prospect
 
“A terrific book... Lichtenstein does a beautiful job of putting Wal-Mart in its historical context... A definitive account not only of Wal-Mart’s past but also of the forces shaping its future.” —Los Angeles Times

“Nelson Lichtenstein has written the book on Wal-Mart. You can read it as a sober indictment of the rogue company that happens also to be the world’s largest corporation. Or you can read it as a brilliantly reported case study in what’s gone wrong with the American—and the global—economy. Either way, you will read it, as I did, with complete fascination.” —Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed

“Offers penetrating insights… Lichtenstein sheds valuable light on the technological reasons for Wal-Mart’s success… and provides a detailed look at the dark side of the company’s employment practices.… As Lichtenstein argues, Wal-Mart may have done more than any other American institution to undermine labor regulations.” —The New York Times Book Review

The Retail Revolution is usefully comprehensive and offers the best account yet of the myriad problems that Wal-Mart employees endure.” —Slate.com
“Surely the best account we have of Wal-Mart’s metamorphosis from a backwater chain to the nation’s dominant corporation... The rise of Wal-Mart, and the national economy it has shaped in its image, is a story that Lichtenstein is eminently suited to tell.” —The American Prospect

“Comprehensive socioeconomic history… Lichtenstein paints a convincing portrait of a multinational conglomerate willing to dehumanize people in the pursuit of profit, even as it tries to convince us that people are its No. 1 concern. A definitive survey of Wal-Mart and the company’s worldview.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“America’s wisest historian of business and labor has produced a masterpiece of reportage and analysis about the self-service country store that grew into the biggest merchandiser in the world. The Retail Revolution is far more than the best book ever written about Wal-Mart. It is a landmark work about the history of our time.” —Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan
 
“This lively yet incisive account of Wal-Mart, one of our era’s most important economic institutions, challenges the claim that the company has been a boon to the U.S. economy, providing a thoughtful and much-needed perspective on inequality and insecurity in modern America.” —Sanford M. Jacoby, author of The Embedded Corporation
 
“Lichtenstein’s calmly critical book sets the rise of Wal-Mart within its broader historical and cultural context, adding a valuable new perspective to the often fraught debate over the role of the world’s largest retailer.” —Jonathan Birchall, U.S. consumer correspondent, The Financial Times
 
“Nelson Lichtenstein is the paramount authority on the world’s largest and most influential company, one that affects the lives of nearly all Americans and has transformed traditional business. In The Retail Revolution, original research and a profound understanding of American capitalism combine to produce a vivid account not only of how Wal-Mart has changed society, but how society in turn is now changing Wal-Mart.”  —Ron Galloway, director of Why Wal-Mart Works
 
“Readers wishing to grasp the brave new world of Wal-Mart in all its dimensions can’t do better than Nelson Lichtenstein’s engrossing and chilling account.” —Robert Kuttner, co-editor of The American Prospect
 

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Nelson Lichtenstein

  • Nelson Lichtenstein is one of the country’s leading experts on labor and politics and the editor of a much-cited collection of essays on Wal-Mart. A professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy, he is also the author of several highly regarded books on American history, including the award-winning Walter Reuther: The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit.
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Available Formats and Book Details

The Retail Revolution

How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business

Nelson Lichtenstein

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

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