(p. 819) Levinson’s book opens up a crucial discussion on the role of integrated retailer-distributors in shaping the twentieth-century U.S. economy. As he rightly notes in the book’s conclusion, A&P was in many ways the Walmart of its day: it used its buying power to squeeze inefficiencies out of supply chains, it was widely reviled for upending small-town business patterns and bitterly fighting union organizers, and yet it drew waves of customers who appreciated its low prices. While we have many business histories of mass-production industries, we have only a handful of richly researched studies of the mass retailers that have, in the words of historian Nelson Lichtenstein (2009), “become the key players in the worldwide marketplace of our time.” Levinson has produced a valuable book for business and economic historians interested in retailing, supply chains, and the ironies of antitrust policy. As a former editor for The Economist, furthermore, Levinson is particularly effective at translating challenging economic concepts into language that lay audiences and undergraduate students can grasp.
For the full review, see:
Hamilton, Shane. “The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America.” Journal of Economic Literature 50, no. 3 (Sept. 2012): 818-19.
(Note: italics in original.)
The book under review is:
Levinson, Marc. The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America. New York: Hill and Wang, 2011.
The Lichtenstein book mentioned is:
Lichtenstein, Nelson. The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business. hb ed. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2009.