Alec MacGillis with Stacy Mitchell - Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America (Online Event)

Sunday, May 2, 2021 - 4:00pm

Conversations with Authors

Sunday, May 2nd, 2021

Live • Online • 4:00pm PT/7:00pm ET

Conversations with Authors is our free online event series! Join us throughout the week new chats with different authors.


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 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.

Alec MacGillis is a senior reporter for ProPublica and the recipient of the George Polk Award, the Robin Toner prize, and other honors. He worked previously at The Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, and The New Republic, and his journalism has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and other publications. His ProPublica reporting on Dayton, Ohio was the basis of a PBS Frontline documentary about the city. He is the author of The Cynic, a 2014 biography of Mitch McConnell. He lives in Baltimore.

Stacy Mitchell is the Co-Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which produces research and develops policy to counter corporate control and build thriving, equitable communities. Stacy has written extensively about the dangers of monopoly power and her articles and reports have influenced lawmakers, journalists, and advocates. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Nation, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.  She’s the author of the book Big-Box Swindle, and several in-depth reports, including  “Amazon’s Stranglehold,” which has drawn wide praise for illuminating the scope of the company‘s power and impact.  In 2020, the New York Times profiled Stacy, describing her as "the strategist of the demise of Amazon as we know it.” She lives in Portland, Maine.


Alec MacGillis photo by J. M. Giordano; Stacy Mitchell photo courtesy of author


Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374159276
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - March 16th, 2021

The Cynic: The Political Education of Mitch McConnell Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501112034
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - December 23rd, 2014

Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America's Independent Businesses Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807035016
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Beacon Press - October 1st, 2007