Amazonia

Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot.Com Juggernaut

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The entertaining story of the first five years of Amazon.com, recounted by employee number 55.

"Americans with an eye cocked toward the markets were asked to believe that Amazon, a two-year-old bookseller, was worth more than the combin

"Americans with an eye cocked toward the markets were asked to believe that Amazon, a two-year-old bookseller, was worth more than the combined values of Sears and US Steel."—from Amazonia

James Marcus was hired as a senior editor at Amazon.com in 1996, giving him a ringside seat for the company's explosive rise and dismal wallet-busting swoon. Now—as the e-commerce giant makes an astonishing comeback—he tells all. Unlike the recent crop of dot.com memoirs, this is no tale of a bankrupt and brokenhearted entrepreneur. Marcus came aboard as a self-described "token humanist," and his take on the new economy juggernaut is predominantly a cultural one. Why, he asks, did Jeff Bezos's brainchild become the key symbol of Internet euphoria? How did the company change as it morphed from a miniscule start-up to a global, multibillion-dollar leviathan? Was the Web breaking more promises than it kept? And finally: What could an editor do to resist being transformed into a hyperventilating shill?

In answering these questions, Marcus takes us to meetings, job interviews, trade shows, and corporate retreats. We spend a freezing holiday season at the warehouse, and a considerably warmer afternoon at the company's summer picnic—where Bezos himself mans the dunk tank. Amazonia is a work of rare wit and razor-sharp observation, and a superlative guide to America's lost world of the nineties. ...Continua

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