Produced by the Department of Media Relations & Publications

Faculty Member's New Book Tells How Wal-Mart Transformed an All-American Town

September 25, 2009

Boomtown Book Cover

Professor Marjorie Rosen (Journalism, Communication, and Theatre) will read from her new book, Boomtown: How Wal-Mart Transformed an All-American Town into an International Community, on Saturday, October 3, at 4 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble store at Lexington Avenue and East 86th Street.

In this new work, Professor Rosen explores the shifting social, political, and cultural character of the United States through the microcosm of Northwest Arkansas.

She looks back at the Bible Belt town of Bentonville, Ark., in 1950, when Sam Walton, founder of the Wal-Mart empire, arrived there to discover that its nondescript character—population 2,900 white Christians—suited him just fine. Today, six decades later, she finds that Walton's legacy has left its mark.

The Bentonville area is headquarters not only to Wal-Mart but also to Tyson Foods and J. B. Hunt. The town's population has grown to around 30,000, and the region is now home to blacks, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Marshall Islanders, and the fastest-growing Latino population in the country.

Published by Chicago Review Press, Boomtown is drawing critical praise from reviewers like Pulitzer Prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who says that "in this important work, Rosen's elegant writing style, reportorial skills, and storytelling ability combine to transform the story of one small town—a fascinating tale in its own right—into a profound commentary on the recent multicultural trends that are shaping America's future."

Professor Rosen's previous books include Popcorn Venus: Women, Movies, and the American Dream and Mia and Woody: Love and Betrayal (with Kristi Groteké). A former senior writer at People and editor at The New York Times Magazine and Who, she has written for The Daily News, Film Comment, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, The Los Angeles Times, Ms., and Playboy.