9781565848702 / 1565848705

Amazonia: Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot.Com Juggernaut


Publisher:New Press, The



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About the book:

With Amazonia, James Marcus adds to the ever-simmering stew of analysis a new, almost quaint perspective: that of an employee hired for his expertise in literature. Marcus traces the company's familiar climb, plummet, and re-ascent, but this time we witness the pyrotechnics from the book-strewn hallways of the editorial department.

After an abbreviated heydey, editorial talent lost cachet at the burgeoning Internet behemoth, replaced by metrics worship and automated innovations like "truncating widgets." Despite the demoralizing shift, Marcus makes evident the loyalty editors continued to display, a "quasi-religious devotion& almost impossible to explain to outsiders." The concept of making history was just too intoxicating for most to abandon (as were the stock options).

Marcus's writing has enough genuine humor and self-deprecation to squelch any accusations of "optimizing for optics," or worse, whining. Aside from a few sections that feel somewhat adrift (oblique mentions of an imploding marriage and an extended Emerson sidebar) the prose is driving and the voice engaging and remarkably fair.

For anyone who worked at in the early days, reading Amazonia is akin to leafing through a high school yearbook (I was an Amazon editor from 1997-2002). Nostalgia is inescapable--even for the irritations of the time, like All Hands Meetings (pep rallies) and the exaltation of MBAs (the popular kids). The thing about yearbooks, though, is that we're really only interested in our own. Whether outsiders will be as captivated by this surf down virtual memory lane is questionable. For alums, it's a lasting keepsake. --Brangien Davis

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