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I reached Rosen last week at her New York City home. She said that writing the book was a great experience.

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Of particular interest to me was chapter 10, "Incident at Bentonville High," in which Rosen discusses a Hispanic student whom school officials accused of engaging in a "jump in," or gang initiation, at the school one day in January 2007. The student and his family denied the allegation, but he and the other students involved were suspended and required to attend an alternative school for a semester.

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The native New Yorker visited this area for the first time in December 2006. On her first day here, she met with a friend of a friend, who took her on a tour of Bentonville and Rogers.

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'Boom Town' Tells Of Area's Diversity

to a Wal Mart before visiting the one in Bentonville, where she bought a CD and "the cheapest six pack of Tommy Hilfiger Dress Shirt Diet Coke I've seen in my life." And she said that after her experience writing this book, her opinion of Wal Mart improved.

nothing to fear about "Boom Town." Ed Clifford, a former Home Office employee who is now president of the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce, called the book "fairly factual."

Rosen was stunned by the snubs, which she called "very small minded." She doesn't blame Wal Mart, but she suspects that library officials and others are fearful of anything that might irritate the retail giant next door.

As she notes in the book, Rosen was drawn to Northwest Arkansas after reading a 2006 New York Times article with the headline, "In Wal Mart's Home, Synagogue Signals Growth." As a journalist, she was intrigued, and during her multiple visits to the area between 2006 and this year, she discovered that Northwest Arkansas was not quite as white and Christian as the South is typically thought to be.

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Overall, I found the book to be fair, not only to Wal Mart, but to the individuals she interviewed. There are some fascinating stories here.

Racial issues are by their very nature controversial, but Rosen isn't afraid to meet these issues head on.

One thing bothers her, however. In the run up to her book being released, both the Rogers and Bentonville public libraries had planned to allow her space Ralph Lauren Jogger Outfit

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Rosen had never even been Tommy Hilfiger Shirts Blue

The Rogers Library blamed it on "a logistics issue." Bentonville Library Director Hadi Dudley said she chose not to host Rosen after reading the book, but said she planned to purchase several copies for the library collection. (As of Friday, the library had two copies, but both were checked out.)

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Another chapter delves into Rogers Mayor Steve Womack's campaign to rid the city of undocumented workers and his initiation of the 287(g) program, which permits local police officers to enforce immigration laws. Rosen quotes Womack as saying, "To me, it has been proven that many people who sneak into the country do other illegal things and contribute to the degradation of society."

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to give readings, but those readings eventually were canceled.

Later, while they ate at a local Chinese restaurant, her dining companion pointed out some folks sitting nearby.

As she points out, "Boom Town" is not necessarily what the Wal Mart public relations staff would have you read, but it's certainly not a hatchet job, either. Wal Mart has Tommy Hilfiger Polo Women

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While a significant amount of ink is spent discussing Wal Mart, Rosen's book focuses more on the people who live here, particularly immigrants who have been drawn here because of jobs at the Wal Mart Home Office or Tyson Foods in Springdale. She interviewed more than 150 residents, and some of their personal stories are presented in detail.

From there, the direction of the book she intended to write soon became clear. That book, released a few weeks ago, is titled "Boom Town: How Wal Mart Transformed An All American Town Into An International Community."

When I asked Rosen what she considered to be Northwest Arkansas' biggest challenge, she cited the assimilation of the Hispanic population.

"The truth is I really loved coming down to Arkansas," she said. "I made a lot of friends. It was a great adventure for me."

Rosen didn't get everything right. For example, Bentonville residents will chuckle at her assertion that Memorial Park is next to Bentonville High School. In fact they are about two miles apart. (Hey, even the best journalists get mixed up once in a while.)

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