... fascinating and deeply researched ... Stone is at his best describing Bezos’s demanding style of management ... As he concludes his masterful book, 'Whatever you think about the company—and the man—that controls so much of our economic reality in the third decade of the twenty-first century, there is no turning back now.'
Amazon Unbound is particularly valuable in explaining how the company makes money, and the day-to-day decisions that end up having a big effect on consumers: Is it worth it, for example, to sell pallets of bottled water, with their low cost and expensive shipping? ... I was, though, left wishing at times for a...book that made a tighter connection between the inside of the juggernaut and its effects on the world ... Significantly, the book is also very much a biography of Bezos. And that makes it timely at a moment when our economy is dominated by giant firms headed by a small handful of men, whose personalities and whims we need to understand whether we like it or not ... As biography, the book is both limited and perhaps strengthened by the fact that Stone has lost his former access to Bezos ... It’s safe to say that Amazon Unbound does suffer at times from a lack of psychological insight into Bezos. But it benefits from the author’s distance, and makes for a dense, at times juicy tour of the company Bezos built.
Stone has produced a readable and comprehensive account of Amazon’s journey. The book will no doubt be enthralling to budding entrepreneurs who view men such as Bezos as masters of the universe. Yet I wanted to hear more about the victims of the 'toxicity' alluded to by Bray: the warehouse workers and small business sellers; the high street retailers and small companies ruined by Amazon’s unfair competition, due to the low rates of tax it pays and its near monopoly over online trade. These stories do feature in Stone’s book, yet they are dwarfed by quotes from sycophantic hangers-on and page after page of turgid minutiae, written in faintly admiring tones, documenting Bezos’s business acumen ... Bezos is a visionary who has built an impressive business empire. He has hooked us on the convenience of ordering at home. Yet Stone gets sucked in by the 'mystical aura of invincibility' that he attributes to Bezos. He falls victim to the temperamental inclination, once remarked on by Adam Smith, for us humans to be 'admirers and worshippers, of wealth and greatness' ... this is a great story. But I wanted the truth — unbound but also unvarnished.
The details are stunning and the writing so good you feel you are in the room ... In chapter after chapter you get the most detailed account you’ll ever need ... The details of the National Enquirer story are astonishing. Stone reveals in thriller movie style how Sanchez’s brother, Michael, a Hollywood agent, sells text messages and photographs that expose the affair ... It’s great stuff, but as you read you get a nagging feeling that all the juicy detail is part of an unspoken 'deal' between Bezos and Stone. Stone will get fantastic source material, provided he does not criticise the firm too much. Many readers will feel he skates too quickly over Amazon’s failings ... Bezos’s sprawling interests and empire can leave the book feeling disjointed. The chapters could be arranged in a different order and you wouldn’t really notice because each is about something very different ... My advice? Read the ones that interest you and skip the rest.
Stone is as much 'a student of organisations, culture, and innovation' as Bezos, and he shows his admiration for the way in which Amazon continues to use its leverage to grow, and the management techniques the Amazon founder uses. Some, such as the insistence on two-pizza teams (small enough to be fed with two pizzas), are well-known. But there is plenty of fuel here for those seeking to emulate Amazon’s success, even on a small scale ... [Bezos] seems a rather more distant, one-dimensional figure in this book than he was in The Everything Store.
Is the world better off with Amazon in it? Is Jeff Bezos good for anyone apart from Jeff Bezos? Brad Stone sets out to examine these questions in Amazon Unbound, a serious, informed, well-written tome, which follows his earlier best seller The Everything Store. Sadly, he fluffs it by not giving us an answer ... The reader who has made it through 400 plus pages might feel a bit cheated at this point; like someone who works at Amazon, perhaps ... Amazon workers do appear in the book, as bit part actors in someone else’s drama. Battles with labour unions are well covered, but only as just that, a fight, rather than a matter of justice ... The ins and outs of how certain Amazon products came to exist might be a little nerdy for some tastes, but if that’s your bag, it is all here ... No one could question the depth and sincerity of Stone’s reporting, but sometimes the fan boy leaks on to the page ... One problem with the book is its approach to politics – just another irritant to be gamed. There are good accounts of whether Amazon might win big government contracts, none of whether it should ... Ultimately, like most American books about business people, it admires Bezos more than it is ever going to scald him. In US books, certainly those written by senior editors at Bloomberg, the very rich man is always going to be a hero. Perhaps the book we need here is from someone who understands the business world as much as Stone, but doesn’t revere it. Someone who doesn’t think a billion made is good in itself; that the means should be justified.
... more a historical narrative divided both chronologically and through the different facets of Amazon’s expanding empire. It is not a critical investigation however, and although Stone touches on issues around globalization and labor rights he tends toward a lighter touch review of how Amazon got it where it is today ... Stone is unable to secure facetime with Bezos himself and is reliant on former Amazon employees or 'Amazonians' as they refer to themselves to reflect on the mega business. This can sometimes read a bit too much like an insider baseball tale as while the senior leadership of Amazon are looked at briefly, Bezos is the dominant figure. Rightly so as he’s a fascinating character whose personal story intrinsically reflects on how Amazon has developed ... Stone definitely leans to narrative over analysis. In telling the story of how Amazon’s size got it increasingly into trouble with anti-monopoly lawmakers, or those concerned with its labor standards, he opines that people don’t understand how the 'various components interlock' within the ecosystem that Amazon has created ... The potential and inspiration about Bezos’s dream to have an enduring human presence of up to a trillion people in space is enthralling, yet you’ll not walk away from reading this book knowing much about it.