Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America

Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America

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.

Title:Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America
ISBN:9780374159276
Format Type:

    Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America Reviews

  • David Wineberg

    Amazon is a monster, if only just in size. There are numerous books and papers examining its labor practices, union bashing, seller abuses, platform monopoly tactics, and its effects on all other reta...

  • Jeff

    Amazon's Long Shadow. This book seeks to show the America that was, and the America that is in the Age of Amazon and how the former became the latter. And in that goal, it actually does remarkably wel...

  • Viola

    https://portside.org/2021-02-08/union... LABOR Union Solidarity on Eve of Historic Amazon Warehouse ElectionIn Alabama, unions gather to support workers seeking union recognition from the Earth’s la...

  • Marks54

    Alec MacGillis is a journalist who has written a new book on Amazon.com. The book presents a series of chapters about different part of the US, ranging from Seattle to Dayton to Central Pennsylvania, ...

  • Jimgosailing

    So I probably would have read this anyway, but reading it now was prompted by a conversation with my daughter who pointed out that I don’t shop Walmart because of worker issues, so why would I conti...

  • Jonathan Mckay

    31st book of 2021: Unfulfilled The American model of technology innovation undoubtedly has created winners and losers. Hearing the stories of folks that are part of the 800,000 strong army powering ...

  • Michael Martz

    'Fulfillment' wasn't particularly fulfilling, but if you're unfamiliar with the effects of Amazon's growth (I'm not sure who would be, but nonetheless....) you might get more out of it that I did. The...

  • Theo

    Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America was ultimately (ironically) not what I expected or hoped. I wanted to read more about the Amazonification phenomenon--labor policy, worker exploita...

  • Susan

    Filed under my new "What's Wrong with America?" shelf. Disturbing and depressing look at how Amazon is contributing to the economic decline of towns and small cities while making large cities unafford...

  • Matthew Budman

    I wanted and expected to like Fulfillment much more than I did. MacGillis has done fantastic, sensitive deep-dive reporting, painting meticulous portraits of several American families and their relati...