Credit: Philip Montgomery
Coming on March 16, 2021...
FULFILLMENT: Winning and Losing in One-Click America, a sweeping narrative of regional inequality in America, captured through the frame of Amazon.
“A wide-ranging, impressionistic tour of a nation whose citizens’ existence has become intertwined with a single corporation . . . MacGillis was one of the first journalists to begin documenting the socioeconomic upheaval that helped shift the rural Rust Belt from blue to red . . . [He] describes how, while rich corporations and their top employees have settled in a small number of wealthy coastal cities, the rest of the American landscape has been leached of opportunities.”
“A grounded and expansive examination of the American economic divide . . . This is much more than a story of retail. It’s about real estate. It’s about lobbying, data centers and the CIA. It’s about revolving doors in Washington, D.C., and cardboard folders in Ohio . . . [Fulfillment] is neither a hagiography nor a targeted attack. Instead, like the HBO series The Wire, it reveals the way economic, political and social systems affect individual stories . . . It takes a skillful journalist to weave data and anecdotes together so effectively . . . Reading these people’s stories will break your heart. But you should read them.”
“MacGillis has set out to do something different. The Amazon depicted in Fulfillment is both a cause and a metaphor. It’s an actual engine behind the regional inequality that has made parts of the United States 'incomprehensible to one another,' he writes, stymieing a sense of national solidarity . . . The result is galloping prosperity for some Americans and unrelenting precarity for others . . . MacGillis suggests that one-click satisfactions distract us from taking in the bigger picture, whose contours can only be discerned with a patient and immersive approach.”
“Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote that all work has dignity if it pays an adequate wage. Alec MacGillis explains why some of America’s richest people and largest corporations don’t seem to care. He has an uncanny ability to weave together the stories of those whose fortunes are soaring with the stories of those whose lives are falling into hopelessness.”
—Sherrod Brown, U.S. Senator from Ohio and author of Desk 88
“Alec MacGillis is one of the very best reporters in America. By always going his own way, he finds stories and truths that others avoid. Fulfillment paints a devastating picture of Amazon, but it also gives human voices to the larger story of our unequal economy and society. Fulfillment is an essential book in the literature of America’s self-destruction.”
—George Packer, staff writer at The Atlantic and author of Our Man and the National Book Award–winning The Unwinding
“Fulfillment vividly details the devastating costs of Amazon’s dominance and brutal business practices, showcasing an economy that has concentrated in private hands staggering wealth and power while impoverishing workers, crushing independent business, and supplanting public governance with private might. A critical read.”
—Lina Khan, associate professor at Columbia Law School and author of Amazon's Antitrust Paradox
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Alec MacGillis is a reporter for ProPublica and the author of Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America and The Cynic: The Political Education of Mitch McConnell. In recent years, his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York, and New York Times Magazine, among other publications, on subjects including Jared Kushner's apartment complexes in Baltimore, violence in dollar stores, and the effects of remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic. He won the 2016 Robin Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting, the 2017 Polk Award for National Reporting, and the 2017 Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award.
Alec was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he graduated from Pittsfield High School before attending Yale. He started his career at a series of small newspapers: The Winsted Journal (Conn.), Journal Inquirer (Conn.), Brooklyn Papers (N.Y.), and Concord Monitor (N.H.) before arriving at the Baltimore Sun in 2000. In 2006, he joined the Washington Post, where he covered the 2008 presidential campaign and the Obama administration before leaving for the New Republic in 2011. In 2010-11, he received a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan.
In addition to his print journalism, Alec served as the narrator for a 2018 PBS Frontline documentary on left-behind cities, based in Dayton, Ohio, and his reporting on Kushnerville served as the basis for an episode of Netflix's Dirty Money in 2019, “Slumlord Millionaire.”