The Retail Revolution by Nelson Lichtenstein
How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business

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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 for the ruthless efficiency of its global network of stores and factories. But the revolution has gone further: Sam’s protégés have created a new economic order which puts thousands of manufacturers, indeed whole regions, in thrall to a retail royalty. Like the Pennsylvania Railroad and General Motors in their heyday, Wal-Mart sets the commercial model for a huge swath of the global economy.

In this lively, probing investigation, historian Nelson Lichtenstein deepens and expands our knowledge of the merchandising giant. He shows that Wal-Mart’s rise was closely linked to the cultural and religious values of Bible Belt America as well as to the imperial politics, deregulatory economics, and laissez-faire globalization of Ronald Reagan and his heirs. He explains how the company’s success has transformed American politics, and 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, original, and steeped in the culture of retail life, The Retail Revolution draws on first hand reporting from coastal China to rural Arkansas to give a fresh and necessary understanding of the phenomenon that has transformed international commerce.


About Nelson Lichtenstein

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Nelson Lichtenstein is the MacArthur Foundation Professor of History and director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Published July 21, 2009 by Metropolitan Books. 321 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Wal-Mart employs two million people and operates 6,000 stores, “doing more business than Target, Home Depot, Sears Holdings, Safeway, and Kroger combined.” Historian and Wal-Mart authority Lichtenstein (History/Univ.

Jun 01 2009 | Read Full Review of The Retail Revolution: How Wa...

Publishers Weekly

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The author covers the company's rise from a group of tiny rural Arkansas stores to an enormous international entity, plagued by equally enormous problems: accusations of widespread sexual and racial discrimination, a history of dodging minimum wage law and unemployment claims, union-busting, dest...

Apr 27 2009 | Read Full Review of The Retail Revolution: How Wa...

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