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CHARLES FISHMAN -- THE WAL-MART EFFECT

By Allyson Jacob · March 15th, 2006 · Lit
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  CHARLES FISHMAN -- THE WAL-MART EFFECT
CHARLES FISHMAN -- THE WAL-MART EFFECT



Whether you love Wal-Mart or hate it, there is little doubt that the giant retail box has had an enormous impact on the American and, to some extent, the global economy. Charles Fishman's The Wal-Mart Effect documents this impact, from Wal-Mart's humble beginnings in Rogers, Ark., in 1962 to the purchasing and pricing power it currently commands.

Full of facts and statistics that will probably cause your eyebrows to shoot up, Fishman's book attempts to present a balanced argument. It's not easy to do so given his subject matter; Wal-Mart is close-lipped about even the most basic of questions, and its employees and suppliers, past and present, are likewise quiet, living in literal fear of awaking the sleeping giant's wrath. Still, the conditions in which the products at "always low prices, always" have been produced have leaked out, and Fishman provides more explanation than you are likely to get in other, less-thorough sources. Fishman has put together a tome that doesn't just paint Wal-Mart as the Big Bad Bully on the block; he instead argues that the company has become a victim of its own pricing games -- a view that would perhaps surprise some of the company's detractors. Ultimately, ask yourself this question, posed by Fishman in the book: "Does it matter that salmon for $4.84 a pound leaves a layer of toxic sludge on the ocean bottoms of the Pacific fjords of southern Chile?" Yes or no, right or wrong, nationalist or globalist, the book is worth reading because we as American consumers should at least be educated about the origins of and manufacturing of the products that drive our economy -- even if we don't care. (Allyson Jacob) Grade: A-

CHARLES FISHMAN -- THE WAL-MART EFFECT (THE PENGUIN PRESS)

 
 
 
 

 

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