Still Broke: Walmart’s Remarkable Transformation and the Limits of Socially Conscious Capitalism

PublicAffairs: Perseus. Nov. 2022. 272p. ISBN 9781541757998. $29. BUSINESS
Why would the leaders of corporate giant Walmart give an all-access pass to a journalist known for taking companies to task for putting their bottom line ahead of the well-being of their employees? The answer remains unclear, but they may have been convinced by Wartzman’s (The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America) pitch to focus on what the company has done right and where it’s fallen short. With this book, the author makes good on that promise. The narrative jumps around Walmart’s timeline—back to Sam Walton’s initial vision, forward to Walmart’s leadership in relief efforts post-Katrina and its surprise embrace of sustainability, and around in time to its various clashes with unions and affiliate groups. The focus, however, returns to the company’s treatment of its frontline workers. This book may or may not change minds (pro or con) about Walmart, but it will deepen readers’ understanding of the negative effects of low-cost retail goods and of the need for both corporations and the government to do more to make the promise of a living wage into a reality.
VERDICT Interesting and evenhanded. Will appeal to a broad readership.
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