Friday, October 4, 2013

Made in America by Sam Walton and John Huey

Genre: Memoir
Pages: Hard Cover
Published by: Bantam
Reviewer: Virginia Armstrong
Made in America by Sam Walton tells a passionate story of founding Wal-Mart, driven with ambition and competitiveness, while overcoming the odds others have placed against him.  Starting at the very beginning of his retail life, he details the ins and outs of first running a Ben Franklin franchise, to opening a few Walton stores and then Wal-Mart.  From there, he goes on to open a Wal-Mart distribution center, purchases a bank and an airplane, all in order to get the job done more efficiently.
With enthusiasm, Sam gives the reader sound advice for starting a business as he relates his own personal story of growth.  Along the way, the reader is introduced to many of Sam’s business partners who are driven hard to succeed while reaping the rewards as well. Always putting the customer first, he also tells how he had to deal with manufacturers to get the best quality at the lowest possible price for the consumer.
Sam’s story is very well written, leaving the reader feeling as if they know him personally.   It was very clear Sam’s passion and life was surrounded by his work.  At times, the story read like an espionage novel; just replace countries with retailers as Sam went about spying on other stores, stealing the best of their ideas and implementing them, which he readily admits to.
It seemed Sam Walton tried to paint a picture of him in a certain light, yet I could not help but read between the lines.  I found his writing to be passive-aggressive toward other people and groups, choosing his words very carefully. For me, the last chapter summed it all up when he listed all the things he would do if he hadn’t been sick.  He listed his store, his dogs and tennis, but never mentioned spending time with his family.
This book would do well for those raging with ambition.   For those who like to keep their family close, it’s a great reminder of what you have.

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