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A must-add to any business bookshelf.

Fair-minded, virtually up-to-the-minute history of the retail and technology behemoth and the prodigious brain behind it.

Bloomberg Businessweek journalist Stone has covered Amazon, “the company that was among the first to see the boundless promise of the Internet and that ended up forever changing the way we shop and read,” and its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, among other technology stories, for 15 years, and his inside knowledge of a company ordinarily stingy with information is evident throughout the book. In addition to speaking to Bezos several times over the years, including an interview for this book, Stone also spoke with employees across all levels of the company, from C-level officers and software developers to fulfillment center “associates,” including many who have moved on. The author’s research, which also included access to volumes of emails and other internal documents, revealed an extraordinarily difficult corporate culture for ordinary human beings to work in, one designed to forge (but not necessarily reward) people able to think like Bezos. The ultimate objective of this culture was to create the illusion for the consumer of a frictionless shopping experience, originally for books but ultimately for every product imaginable. The patented one-click shopping button, which enabled online customers to order, pay for and have shipped any item with a single click of the mouse, was the apotheosis of Amazon’s consumer-oriented ethos. But this illusion required an enormous amount of friction behind the scenes. Bezos, a billionaire several times over whose ultimate dream is to blast himself into space from a launch pad he’s building on his enormous Texas ranch, is notorious for squeezing as much productivity out of his underpaid employees as is humanly possible. Stone presents a nuanced portrait of the entrepreneur, especially as he sketches in Bezos’ unusual family history and a surprising turn it took during the writing of the book. His reporting on the Kindle’s disruption of traditional publishing makes for riveting reading.

A must-add to any business bookshelf.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-21926-6

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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