Author: Alec MacGillis, Stefan Alexander MacGillis
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: An incredibly timely, relevant read that manages to be both infuriating and engaging.
This story isn’t a look at Amazon itself, but a sweeping exploration of the people and places impacted by that company’s expansion. The author talks to an incredible variety of people. They live across the United States and their lives have intersected with Amazon in countless ways. The author also talks to older people and sprinkles in some history himself, showing how we reached the current state of the country. He particularly focuses on the way Amazon has exacerbated national, regional, and local inequality.
What an incredible book! I admired that the author mostly just laid out the facts of this story. He does reveal some of his own opinions about what needs to happen at the end of the book. For the most part, though, he leaves the reader to draw their own conclusions. This certainly isn’t a polemic. I loved the many different perspectives the author shared. The collection of varied stories was essential for understanding the many facets of such an enormous company. The organization of chapters primarily by place, occasionally by theme, worked well. The author managed to make a cohesive story out of many moving parts.
The author did a particularly good job of sharing stories that are rarely told. At least, I’ve rarely read this much about ordinary people struggling to get by. Differences in the experiences of Black and white workers, from past to present day, were described in some detail. I loved the many quotes and little details the author used to bring you into each person’s experience. This made the story strangely enjoyable and engaging, despite also being frustrating and infuriating. In particular, I am still left wondering why so many politicians throw incentives at a company that does so little for the communities that surround it. I’m guessing its pretty much always donations, but if so, the author didn’t share that info in most cases.
I loved this enough that I feel like I should have more to say about it. I think I’ve highlighted its main strengths though. It was an enjoyable, immersive read, but with the majority of US households holding Prime memberships, it’s also timely and relevant to everyone. Definitely a book I’d like everyone to pick up.