The Wal-Mart Effect

  • by Charles Fishman
  • Narrated by Alan Sklar
  • 10 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


What the Critics Say

"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)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent, Balanced View

I'd read the article Fishman wrote in Wired a couple years back, so I was interested to learn more. The book was a nice, balanced look into what makes Wal-Mart tick, and some of the repercussions of their single minded drive to lower prices. While I was interested in the subject, I'm more of a fiction book reader, so I wasn't sure if I'd stick with a long non fiction book on business. Surprisingly, it went by fairly quickly, kept my interest the whole time.
If you're a Wal-Mart hater, you'll find ammunition in there, especially with regards to cheap salmon and gallon jars of Vlasic pickles. If you're a hard core capitalist, you'll appreaciate the fact that shopping at Wal-Mart saves many, many families a good deal of money due to their focus on lowered prices.

By chance, I listened to this soon after after re-reading "Atlas Shrugged". It made for some interesting mental comparisons.
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- Michael


I must admit up front that I have never been in a Wal-Mart store and there is no Wal-Mart store anywhere near where I live. My second disclaimer is I absolutely hate to shop; I rush in and obtain the items I need and rush out of the store. Since the 1960 I have made it a mission of mine to buy products made in the United States even if I have to pay more or do without if I cannot find products made in the United State or Canada.

Fishman has done extensive research for this book. He has drawn on unprecedented interviews with former Wal-Mart executives; pursued a wealth of business and economic data and has created an interesting look at the corporation.

Fishman states the story of Wal-Mart is really the story of the transformation of the American economy over the past twenty years. Fishman presents a case for Wal-Mart (mostly consumer benefit) and against Wal-Mart. Fishman puts the reader inside the company’s penny-pinching mindset and shows how Wal-Mart’s mania to reduce prices has driven suppliers into bankruptcy and sent factory jobs overseas.

The “Wal-Mart effect” has become a common phase in the vocabulary of economists, and includes a broad range of effects, such as forcing local competitors out of business, driving down wages, and keeping inflation low and productivity high. Fishman discusses the replacement of quality with cheapness. The author sees Wal-Mart as neither good nor evil, but simply a fact of modern life. I enjoyed the fact he told stories and named the product and or company he spoke of to demonstrate the good or bad effect. I found the afterword the most important part of the book.

The book is well written and well organized. Fishman has made the book understandable and easy to read. Alan Sklar narrated the book.
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- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-14-2006
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio