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Amazon started out as a mere online book seller. Now it's a force, maybe the force, in retail.  

Brad Stone, writer for Bloomberg Businessweek, spent time at the company covering its growth and its founder Jeff Bezos. His new book, "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon," explores the company's rise and its culture.

Stone says much of Amazon's success is due to the competitive work environment Bezos fosters.

But that doesn't sit well with everyone, "I mean he doesn't want it to be a country club for his employees. He wants everyone giving the proverbial 110 percent," Stone says. "And it's why frankly a lot of people go to Amazon and leave after two years."  

At the same time, Stone says that without that relentless office culture, Amazon likely doesn't sit as its current throne as a retail giant. It's reach is so broad, even the CIA will soon be running its operations on Amazon web servers

"Amazon is ruthless in pursuit of pleasing its customers and what his critics would say is that its ruthless in gaining power and fame," he says. "The interesting thing about a complex company like Amazon is that really both are true. And you know, it's what makes it such an interesting story."

Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal