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Extended Audio Sample The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America, by Marc Levinson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (113 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Marc Levinson Narrator: William Hughes Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From modest beginnings as a tea shop in New York, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company became the largest retailer in the world. It was a juggernaut, the owner of nearly sixteen thousand stores and dozens of factories and warehouses, and in 1929 it became the first retailer to sell $1 billion in goods—in a single year. But its explosive growth made it a mortal threat to hundreds of thousands of mom-and-pop grocery stores. Main Street fought back tooth and nail, enlisting the state and federal governments to stop price discounting, tax chain stores, and require manufacturers to sell to mom and pop at the same prices granted to giant retailers. In a remarkable court case, the federal government pressed criminal charges against the Great A&P for selling food too cheaply—and won.

The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America is the story of a stunningly successful company that forever changed how Americans shop and what Americans eat. It is a brilliant business history, the story of how George and John Hartford took over their father’s business and reshaped it again and again, turning it into a vertically integrated behemoth that paved the way for every big-box retailer to come. George demanded a rock-solid balance sheet; John was the marketer-entrepreneur who led A&P through seven decades of rapid changes. Together, they built the modern consumer economy by turning the archaic retail industry into a highly efficient system for distributing food at low cost.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “What a splendid book! The rise and fall of A&P provides a rare window into the American experience…The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America shows that even the largest corporate goliaths are not immune to the insistent forces of competition and change. No one could have told this riveting tale better than Levinson—a historian, journalist, and economist—whose crisp and compelling writing makes the narrative’s rich detail always run smoothly.”

    Robert J. Samuelson, columnist for Newsweek and the Washington Post

  • “Admirably researched…Provides the details of this history with readable concision…Mr. Levinson writes engagingly, and he exhibits no overt political brief. Anyone with a common-sense grasp of business practices will find the author’s points clearly and fairly presented.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Levinson, who has burrowed deep in the archives, makes this story clear and compelling—and shows why A&P was both a boon to consumers and, in the words of an FDR-era federal prosecutor, ‘a gigantic blood sucker.’”

    Atlantic Monthly

  • “The rise of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company is a riveting business story, but it turns out the tale of its decline is equally mesmerizing. Levinson brings the rise and fall of the A&P to life in spellbinding prose…Set against the backdrop of America’s rapidly changing business environment over the past century, Levinson skillfully weaves multiple narratives into a fascinating tale that provides a wealth of lessons for any reader interested in American history, economics, politics, or family business dynamics.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “This is the kind of masterful business narrative that explains both the past and the present in an illuminating new light. Marc Levinson’s highly insightful story of A&P—and its opponents—is essential reading for all those who seek to understand the love-hate relationship Americans have with the oversized consumer economy of our own day.”

    Nelson Lichtenstein, author of The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business

  • “The A&P story is a fascinating case history within the evolution of the US grocery industry. Levinson makes it read like a novel, full of interesting anecdotes and references to a large bibliography. Anyone interested in the retail industry may find this book a great study of responding to the need to adapt to market and economic pressures to survive.”


  • “A well-conceived, lively history with obvious contemporary relevance.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Rob | 10/30/2013

    " A solid historical perspective on the evolution of big business in America. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Joe Marshall | 5/6/2012

    " Did not know A&P had such a huge impact on retailing as it did. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jenny | 4/22/2012

    " Interesting story about the rise of the supermarket economy in the U.S. and the decline of mom and pop stores. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Lawrence | 11/22/2011

    " Interesting read, could have used better editing, especially in later chapters. Parallels between A&P and Walmart introduced but not explored in depth. Basically a study of a company that excelled in creative destruction until falling victim to same. "

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