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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Marcus, James: Amazonia

  Amazon  

4.5 stars

James Marcus's Amazonia: Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot.com Juggernaut is a surprisingly quick and absorbing account of the author's five-year stint as an editor at Amazon.com. Hired in 1996, in the early days of the e-tailer's historic march to world domination (Marcus was employee number 55), the author watched the value of his stock options explode during his tenure, and he saw his job as a provider of editorial content become increasingly marginalized as Amazon turned to "personalization widgets" to automate the content of its pages.

For an Amazon enthusiast like myself (I placed my first order--for a copy of Alison Weir's The Wars of the Roses--relatively early, in October of 1997, and have handed over bagfuls of money to the company since), Amazonia offers a titillating view of life behind the web site. Have you ever wondered, for example, what a professional Amazonian's take on the reviews of Harriet Klausner (Amazon's top-ranked reviewer) might be? But the book also reminds us of our recent history, which, given the frenetic pace of change in the computer age, seems very long ago indeed--those early days in the mid-90's when the average man on the street was only vaguely aware, if aware at all, of the wonders of the world wide web.  Remember PlanetAll, for example, an online datebook service Amazon acquired back when PDAs weren't ubiquitous? I remembered, but vaguely, once Marcus jogged my memory. Reading Amazonia, then, is an experience akin to reminiscing with a rediscovered friend from grammar school. It's also a great read.

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