Fulfillment : Winning and Losing in One-Click America by Alec Macgillis.

To hear him tell it, Jeff Bezos love stories. But not necessarily ones contained in books - those items that propelled Amazon's rise from the beginnings in a Seattle garage in 1994 to the global behemoth it is today.

Bezos started out by selling books not out of any literary affection but because they were a useful commodity, the kind that could give a fledgling online marketplace a competitive edge.

[Reading Kazuo Ishiguro's ''The Remains of the Day'' helped him to develop his personal ''regret minimization framework.'']

The story telling he exalts is purely functional, a seamless amalgam of his engineering training and his libertarian inclinations : ''Build Yourself a great story.''

In ''Fulfillment : Winning and Losing in One-Click America,'' the journalist Alec MacGillis describes a tent in Arlington, Va, the site of Amazon's second headquarters, where job applicants submitting their resumes could see this quote from Bezos emblazoned on one of the walls. But what happens when the story you're trying to build is subject to forces that aren't under your control?

Surveying the debates over widening inequality, MacGillis notes their tendency to focus on individual income, ''rather than on the landscape of inequality'' across the United States - and that landscape, he says, is increasingly shaped, sorted and even governed by Amazon.

MacGillis says that Amazon's fortunes have soared during the pandemic, when the ''mode of consumption it had pioneered for a quarter century had transformed from a matter of convenience to one of necessity.''

In the first 10 months of last year, the company added more than 425,000 nonseasonal employees, bringing its total to 800,000 in the United States and 1.2 million worldwide.

The immensely profitable Amazon Web Services orchestrates online life, too, running much of the cloud - another realm transformed by the pandemic from convenience to necessity.

If you're looking for a book that parses the inner workings of Amazon, ''Fulfillment'' isn't it. There's little here about the company that's new.

Brad Stone's ''The Everything Store'' [2013] still stands as an in-depth [and irreverent history of Amazon Jessica Bruder'd ''Nomadland'' [2017] and Emily Guendelsberger's ''On the Clock'' [2019] offer more details about the actual experience working in one of the company's warehouses - or ''Fulfillment centers,'' in Amazon's preferred parlance, where employees can walk up to 15 miles during a single shift and vending machines dispense free painkillers.

The World Students Society thanks review author, Jennifer Szalai.


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