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Boom Town: How Wal-Mart Transformed an All-American Town Into an International Community [Kindle Edition]

Marjorie Rosen
2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Investigating the personal stories behind the headquarters of the Wal-Mart empire, this examination focuses on the growth of Bentonville, Arkansas—a microcosm of America's social, political, and cultural shift. Numerous personalities are interviewed, including a multimillionaire Palestinian refugee who arrived penniless and is now dedicated to building a synagogue, a Mexican mother of three who was fired after injuring herself on the job, a black executive hired to diversify Wal-Mart whose arrival coincided with a KKK rally, and a Hindu father concerned about interracial dating. In documenting these citizens’ stories, this account reveals the challenges and issues facing those who compose this and other "boom towns"—where demographics, the economy, and immigration and migration patterns are continually in flux. In shedding light on these important and timely anecdotes of America's changing rural and suburban landscape, this exploration provides an entertaining and intimate chronicle of the different ethnicities, races, and religions as well as their ongoing struggles to adapt. Emerging as subtle sociology combined with drama and humanity, this overview illustrates the imperceptible and occasionally unpredictable movements that affect the nonmetropolitan environment of the United States.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to Rosen (Popcorn Venus), Sam Walton's retail empire—currently facing criticism for inadequate wages, sexual discrimination, predatory pricing and pernicious environmental and overseas practices—is the largest and most controversial U.S. corporation. Bethany Moreton's recent and enlightening To Serve God and Wal-Mart notes that Wal-Mart plays a conspicuous role in recent transformations in American business, consumer and labor practices and their global cultural consequences. Rosen agrees, but she has come to praise, not bury, the international giant, and her far too circumscribed profile—focusing on the hometown headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., and the surrounding boom region it influences—emphasizes Wal-Mart's character as a generous, surprisingly good neighbor and engine of multiculturalism, incorporating Hindus, Muslims, Jews, African-Americans, Marshall Islanders and Latinos into white-bread Bible Belt communities. Rosen glosses over employee complaints, lawsuits and informed critiques of Wal-Mart's operation and conservative brand of Christian entrepreneurialism with the savvy of a public relations pro in this laudatory and utterly unbalanced portrait. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Anyone interested in America's future should read Marjorie Rosen's Boom Town, a vivid, engaging portrait of a place that's zoomed from small, sleepy and racially uniform to big, economically dynamic and ethnically diverse almost overnight."  —Ron Arias, author, Moving Target: A Memoir of Pursuit

"In this important work, Rosen's elegant writing style, reportorial skills, and storytelling ability combine to transform the story of one small town—a fascinating tale in its own right—into a profound commentary on the recent multicultural trends that are shaping America's future."  —Doris Kearns Goodwin, author, No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

"In this marvelous report from the interior, Marjorie Rosen tells the story of an American heartland where old struggles over race give way to new paradigms. A comprehensive, nuanced, and utterly surprising account!"  —Honor Moore, author, The Bishop's Daughter

"Not to be missed is this lively account of the complex and contradictory forces that permitted Wal-Mart, the ultimate 'bad guy' corporation, to play a role in prompting radical change and the development of true diversity in a backwater of rural America."  —Judith Adler Hellman, author, The World of Mexican Migrants

"[A] rich and perceptive book with many surprises."  —David A. Zonderman, professor of history, North Carolina State University

"Boom Town offers up a tantalizing peek into the future and gives us a visceral sense of how the twin engines of immigration and technology are changing not just Bentonville, but small towns across America."  —Barbara Gordon, filmmaker and author, I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can

"[Boom Town] tells the story of the rapid urbanization of Wal-Mart's home town of Bentonville, [and] gives the reader an up-close, true to life sense of how the ethnic tensions borne of globalization are playing out on the ground."  —Fred Siegel, professor of history, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

"Rosen's astute powers of observation and storytelling skills capture unsettling processes of urbanization as they sweep across the region, re-shaping it from a sleepy slice of the rural Ozark Mountains . . . into a sprawling multi-cultural company town for the world's largest retailer and the vendors, service providers and peripheral suppliers that support it."  —Antipode

Product Details

  • File Size: 2590 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1556529481
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (October 1, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005HF4DZ6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,660,874 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

2.3 out of 5 stars
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ironically...too many cliches and stereotypes December 15, 2009
By J. F.
The stereotypes she references in this book don't quite pan out. Instead, we only have her stereotypes and cliches about small town people. It seems to have been intended to be a book about the lenses people view each other with. The main lens, though, that seems play protagonist here is the writer's own. There are many better books on diversity than this one. Books that don't paint an unrealistic caricature of people. I wouldn't say, though, that everyone will dislike this. Many people like the cliches and simple descriptions of groups and their culture and behaviors. This book delivers that with excellent prose.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read! September 28, 2009
I loved this book. I picked it up on a whim, and was surprised not only to learn about what a good citizen Wal-Mart is to its home town of Bentonville, but also to find out about the diverse groups that are making their homes in the area and really working to get along. I especially loved the story of the Palestinian builder who got his first break from a Wal-Mart manager 20 years ago, made a bundle, and today is working with local Jews to build a synagogue and charging only the cost of labor. This is a really great read for anyone who cares about that melting pot called America.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars worthy topic marred by author's hostility to Whites December 16, 2009
I commend author for addressing a worthy topic. Alas, her anti gentilic attitude destroys her credibility.
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More About the Author

Marjorie Rosen's book, "Boom Town: How Wal-Mart Transformed an All-American Town into an International Community," which examines how multiculturalism has come to the Bible belt town of Bentonville, Arkansas, home office of Wal-Mart, was published on October 1, 2009. Her other books include "Popcorn Venus: Women, Movies, and the American Dream," about the relationship between women onscreen and off, "Mia & Woody: Love and Betrayal" (with Kristi Groteké, Farrow's former nanny), and the novel, "What Nigel Knew" (co-authored). A former editor at the New York Times Magazine and senior writer at People, Rosen has written for publications as varied as the Daily News, Film Comment, Glamour, Ms, Good Housekeeping, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times "Arts & Leisure," and Playboy. A three-time MacDowell Colony Fellow, she is an associate professor in the Department of Journalism, Communication, and Theatre at Lehman College-CUNY and a 2009-2010 Faculty Fellow at the CUNY Grad School's "Center for Place, Culture and Politics."


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