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Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2021
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A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice"A grounded and expansive examination of the American economic divide . . . It takes a skillful journalist to weave data and anecdotes together so effectively." —Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles TimesAn award-winning journalist investigates Amazon's impact on the wealth and poverty of towns and cities across the United States.In 1937, the famed writer and activist Upton Sinclair published a novel bearing the subtitle A Story of Ford-America. He blasted the callousness of a company worth "a billion dollars" that underpaid its workers while forcing them to engage in repetitive and sometimes dangerous assembly line labor. Eighty-three years later, the market capitalization of Amazon.com has exceeded one trillion dollars, while the value of the Ford Motor Company hovers around thirty billion. We have, it seems, entered the age of one-click America—and as the coronavirus makes Americans more dependent on online shopping, its sway will only intensify.Alec MacGillis's Fulfillment is not another inside account or exposé of our most conspicuously dominant company. Rather, it is a literary investigation of the America that falls within that company's growing shadow. As MacGillis shows, Amazon's sprawling network of delivery hubs, data centers, and corporate campuses epitomizes a land where winner and loser cities and regions are drifting steadily apart, the civic fabric is unraveling, and work has become increasingly rudimentary and isolated.Ranging across the country, MacGillis tells the stories of those who've thrived and struggled to thrive in this rapidly changing environment. In Seattle, high-paid workers in new office towers displace a historic black neighborhood. In suburban Virginia, homeowners try to protect their neighborhood from the environmental impact of a new data center. Meanwhile, in El Paso, small office supply firms seek to weather Amazon's takeover of government procurement, and in Baltimore a warehouse supplants a fabled steel plant. Fulfillment also shows how Amazon has become a force in Washington, D.C., ushering readers through a revolving door for lobbyists and government contractors and into CEO Jeff Bezos's lavish Kalorama mansion.With empathy and breadth, MacGillis demonstrates the hidden human costs of the other inequality—not the growing gap between rich and poor, but the gap between the country's winning and losing regions. The result is an intimate account of contemporary capitalism: its drive to innovate, its dark, pitiless magic, its remaking of America with every click.

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Street Date:
03/16/2021
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780374720179
ASIN:
B088DQKSGW
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APA Citation (style guide)

Alec MacGillis. (2021). Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Alec MacGillis. 2021. Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Alec MacGillis, Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Alec MacGillis. Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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shortDescription

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

"A grounded and expansive examination of the American economic divide . . . It takes a skillful journalist to weave data and anecdotes together so effectively." —Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times


An award-winning journalist investigates Amazon's impact on the wealth and poverty of towns and cities across the United States.

In 1937, the famed writer and activist Upton Sinclair published a novel bearing the subtitle A Story of Ford-America. He blasted the callousness of a company worth "a billion dollars" that underpaid its workers while forcing them to engage in repetitive and sometimes dangerous assembly line labor. Eighty-three years later, the market capitalization of Amazon.com has exceeded one trillion dollars, while the value of the Ford Motor Company hovers around thirty billion. We have, it seems, entered the age of one-click America—and as the...

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title
Fulfillment
fullDescription

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

"A grounded and expansive examination of the American economic divide . . . It takes a skillful journalist to weave data and anecdotes together so effectively." —Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times


An award-winning journalist investigates Amazon's impact on the wealth and poverty of towns and cities across the United States.

In 1937, the famed writer and activist Upton Sinclair published a novel bearing the subtitle A Story of Ford-America. He blasted the callousness of a company worth "a billion dollars" that underpaid its workers while forcing them to engage in repetitive and sometimes dangerous assembly line labor. Eighty-three years later, the market capitalization of Amazon.com has exceeded one trillion dollars, while the value of the Ford Motor Company hovers around thirty billion. We have, it seems, entered the age of one-click America—and as the coronavirus makes Americans more dependent on online shopping, its sway will only intensify.
Alec MacGillis's Fulfillment is not another inside account or exposé of our most conspicuously dominant company. Rather, it is a literary investigation of the America that falls within that company's growing shadow. As MacGillis shows, Amazon's sprawling network of delivery hubs, data centers, and corporate campuses epitomizes a land where winner and loser cities and regions are drifting steadily apart, the civic fabric is unraveling, and work has become increasingly rudimentary and isolated.
Ranging across the country, MacGillis tells the stories of those who've thrived and struggled to thrive in this rapidly changing environment. In Seattle, high-paid workers in new office towers displace a historic black neighborhood. In suburban Virginia, homeowners try to protect their neighborhood from the environmental impact of a new data center. Meanwhile, in El Paso, small office supply firms seek to weather Amazon's takeover of government procurement, and in Baltimore a warehouse supplants a fabled steel plant. Fulfillment also shows how Amazon has become a force in Washington, D.C., ushering readers through a revolving door for lobbyists and government contractors and into CEO Jeff Bezos's lavish Kalorama mansion.
With empathy and breadth, MacGillis demonstrates the hidden human costs of the other inequality—not the growing gap between rich and poor, but the gap between the country's winning and losing regions. The result is an intimate account of contemporary capitalism: its drive to innovate, its dark, pitiless magic, its remaking of America with every click.

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reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        December 7, 2020
        ProPublica journalist MacGillis (The Cynic) delivers a probing, character-driven report on Amazon’s impact on the American economy and labor practices. His profile subjects include a worker at an Amazon warehouse in Thornton, Colo., who has moved into his basement out of fear he will contract Covid-19 and transmit it to his high-risk mother-in-law, and a family in Dayton, Ohio, living in a homeless shelter after the father lost his $12 per hour job at a company that sells 140,000 tons of cardboard annually to Amazon. Meanwhile, MacGillis points out, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s fortune increased by tens of billions due to the pandemic, and the company got millions of dollars in tax credits to open a fulfillment center near Dayton. MacGillis also accuses the Washington Post, which Bezos owns, of subjecting Amazon’s plans to open headquarters in New York City and the Washington metro area to “less scrutiny” than the New York Times did. (The company abandoned its New York plans.) MacGillis gathers copious evidence that Amazon and other tech companies have disadvantaged American workers, yet he resists sermonizing in order to let readers draw their own conclusions. This cogent and wide-ranging study sounds the alarm bells.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        February 1, 2021
        ProPublica senior reporter MacGillis tallies the hidden costs of Amazon's influence on the American economy and workforce. In a report that pulls back the curtain on some of Amazon's less well-known policies and practices, the author writes that the net worth of CEO Jeff Bezos increased by an astounding $25 billion in just two weeks early in the pandemic. MacGillis casts that wealth as an example of the "winner-take-all economy" that has sprung up in a handful of U.S. regions as tech giants have moved in, often at the expense of local residents or institutions. Drawing on interviews with Amazon workers and other sources, the author excels at showing how the Seattle-based company plays communities against one another in seeking sites for new facilities that may promise only modest job growth. That happened most notably during its search for a second headquarters--"a grand nationwide reality show, a Bachelor for cities to compete for the affection of a corporation"--before the company gave up on New York and chose the D.C. metro area. Even smaller cities may feel the pressure to offer the company outsized tax exemptions or other concessions. Ohio gave Amazon a $270,000 tax credit to turn a former Chrysler plant in Twinsburg into a sorting facility with only 10 full-time jobs (though with many more part-time holiday workers): "Twinsburg added a seven-year 50 percent property tax exemption that would cost it $600,000, most of which would have gone toward its schools." In showing the human costs of all of this, MacGillis at times relies on overlong profiles of or unedifying quotes about Amazon's corporate casualties ("I want people to know he was a great dad"; "It still hasn't really sunk in that my brother is gone"). Nonetheless, the book abounds with useful information for anyone weighing the costs and benefits of having an online behemoth come to town. A sobering portrait of how Amazon is remaking America.

        COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        February 15, 2021
        ProPublica reporter MacGillis, a biographer of Mitch McConnell in The Cynic (2014), here offers a probing, panoramic view of the socioeconomic state of the U.S. through the lens of its most ubiquitous company. Rather than a history of Amazon, though, this is MacGillis' effort ""to take a closer look at the America that fell in the company's lengthening shadow."" Encompassing histories of labor, manufacturing, lobbying, and technology and addressing the country's growing inequalities in wealth and housing, MacGillis' guide to this America is heavily detailed and filled with staggering stories and figures. Across the country, he ties cities to the places they used to be--both Amazon's Seattle, where median home prices recently doubled in a five-year period, and places like Sparrows Point, a former Baltimore County steel town that's now home to two Amazon warehouses. Always returning to that ""shadow,"" in each place MacGillis shares the stories of individuals. MacGillis' sprawling, fascinating account presses pause on the continuously unfurling effects of a monolithic company on not only our consumption, but also our livelihoods, communities, and government.

        COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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