The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century

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When scholars write the history of the world twenty years from now, and they come to the chapter "Y2K to March 2004," what will they say was the most crucial development? The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Iraq war? Or the convergence of technology and events that allowed India, China, and so many other countries to become part of the global supply chain for services and manufacturing, creating an explosion of wealth in the middle classes of the world's two biggest nations, giving them a huge ...

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Overview

When scholars write the history of the world twenty years from now, and they come to the chapter "Y2K to March 2004," what will they say was the most crucial development? The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Iraq war? Or the convergence of technology and events that allowed India, China, and so many other countries to become part of the global supply chain for services and manufacturing, creating an explosion of wealth in the middle classes of the world's two biggest nations, giving them a huge new stake in the success of globalization? And with this "flattening" of the globe, which requires us to run faster in order to stay in place, has the world gotten too small and too fast for human beings and their political systems to adjust in a stable manner?

In this brilliant new book, the award-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman demystifies the brave new world for readers, allowing them to make sense of the often bewildering global scene unfolding before their eyes. With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the twenty-first century; what it means to countries, companies, communities, and individuals; and how governments and societies can, and must, adapt. The World Is Flat is the timely and essential update on globalization, its successes and discontents, powerfully illuminated by one of our most respected journalists.

This updated and expanded edition features more than a hundred pages of fresh reporting and commentary, drawn from Friedman’s travels around the world and across the American heartland--from anyplace where the flattening of the world is being felt.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Even a brilliant provocateur like foreign affairs expert Thomas L. Friedman would not presume to write a history of the 21st century based on the first four years of the millennium. But in this important socioeconomic study, a follow-up to 1999’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree, the three-time Pulitzer Prize winner argues persuasively that globalization, with all its attendant geopolitical effects, is the single most significant trend of our day. To paraphrase the ancient Chinese curse, we are indeed living in interesting -- and historic -- times!
Warren Bass
The World Is Flat continues the franchise Friedman has made for himself as a great explicator of and cheerleader for globalization, building upon his 1999 The Lexus and the Olive Tree. Like its predecessor, this book showcases Friedman's gift for lucid dissections of abstruse economic phenomena, his teacher's head, his preacher's heart, his genius for trend-spotting and his sometimes maddening inability to take himself out of the frame. It also shares some of the earlier volume's excitement (mirroring Rajesh Rao's) and hesitations about whether we're still living in an era dominated by old-fashioned states or in a postmodern, globalized era where states matter far less and the principal engine of change is a leveled playing field for international trade.
— The Washington Post
Fareed Zakaria
Terrorism remains a threat, and we will all continue to be fascinated by upheavals in Lebanon, events in Iran and reforms in Egypt. But ultimately these trends are unlikely to shape the world's future. The countries of the Middle East have been losers in the age of globalization, out of step in an age of free markets, free trade and democratic politics. The world's future -- the big picture -- is more likely to be shaped by the winners of this era. And if the United States thought it was difficult to deal with the losers, the winners present an even thornier set of challenges. This is the implication of the New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman's excellent new book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
With the rise of technologies like high-speed Internet and the knocking down of barriers both literal (the Berlin Wall) and figurative (the opening of China's economy to free trade) portions of this audiobook could have been outsourced to recording studios all across the globe. As Friedman notes in this lengthy but informative audio, new technologies, political paradigm shifts and, more importantly, innovative individuals at the helms of startups have leveled the playing field in the global economy. That this audio wasn't outsourced is fortunate for listeners, as Wyman is a veteran nonfiction narrator with an extensive background in voicing animation. Upon first listen, one cannot help thinking of the exuberant heroes of Saturday morning cartoons; once listeners grow accustomed to Wyman's youthful tenor, his professionalism and talent shine through. Though Wyman's voice doesn't have the professorial gravitas to match a journalistic work such as this, listeners should have no reservations about choosing this engrossing audio for long-distance travel or simply casual listening. Simultaneous release with the Farrar, Straus & Giroux hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 28). (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
Lively and provocative as always, Friedman returns with an updated thesis on globalization. In The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Friedman argued that technological innovation, foreign investment, capital flows, and trade were transforming the world — breaking down national borders, constraining governments, and triggering grand struggles between nationalism and the forces of economic integration. Here he argues — in a swirl of anecdotes about software designers, intrepid entrepreneurs, globetrotting investors, and the famous telephone call centers in Bangalore, India — that globalization has reached a new stage. Now individuals, rather than governments or corporations, are the agents of change, empowered by e-mail, computers, teleconferencing, and production networks, all of which are drawing more and more people around the world into competition and cooperation on an equal footing. In this sense, Friedman argues, the world is becoming flat, and his book is organized as a sort of travel guide to globalization, a kinetic portrait of the wired global village. The rest of the book examines how countries, companies, and workers will need to adapt to flatness. For the United States, this entails, above all, investing in education, technology, and training.

But Friedman's image of a flat earth is profoundly misleading — a view of the world from a seat in business class. Flatness is another way of describing the transnational search by companies for cheap labor, an image that misses the pervasiveness of global inequality and the fact that much of the developing world remains mired in poverty and misery. It also misses the importance of the global geopolitical hierarchy, whichguarantees the provision of stability, property rights, and other international public goods. The rise of China and India is less about flatness than it is about dramatic upheavals in the mountains and valleys of the global geopolitical map.

Library Journal
Look around: this Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist claims that the most significant events of the 21st century are happening now. The globe is "flattening," with technology binding more and more countries together. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This brilliantly paced, articulate, and accessible explanation of today's world is an ideal title for tech-savvy teens. Friedman's thesis is that connectedness by computer is leveling the playing field, giving individuals the ability to collaborate and compete in real time on a global scale. While the author is optimistic about the future, seeing progress in every field from architecture to zoology, he is aware that terrorists are also using computers to attack the very trends that make progress plausible and reasonable. This is a smart and essential read for those who will be expected to live and work in this new global environment.-Alan Gropman, National Defense University, Washington, DC Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Of globalism and its contented. New York Times columnist Friedman (Longitudes and Attitudes, 2002, etc.), always glad to find possibilities for hope in the most tangled international trends, offers a mantra to accompany the outsourcing of jobs in the brave new transnational capitalist world: "The playing field is being leveled. . . . The playing field is being leveled." The phrase is that of a Bangalore-based captain of industry; Friedman's gloss, which seems merely rhetorical at first but turns out to have some legs, is: "the world is flat." Which is to say: new communications technologies and business strategies have erased certain obstacles between nations and peoples in at least the realms of knowledge work and intellectual capital. India, for instance, graduates huge numbers of accountants each year who can readily be put to work doing the grunt labor of preparing Americans' tax returns, leaving it to the erstwhile U.S. preparer to do something wonderful and meaningful with his or her time-estate planning, say, or portfolio management. Friedman is sober-minded enough to recognize, of course, that not all homegrown preparers are Warren Buffetts in the making, and that some people will not thrive when their jobs wander across the oceans-though some may wind up in the Colorado phone bank that, Friedman seems most impressed to learn, processes drive-through orders for a McDonald's franchise two states away. He is also quick to remark that the freer flow of information from developed to developing nation is a boon not just for the talented of the Third World, but also for the likes of certain bad guys: "Globalization in general," he writes, "has been al-Qaeda's friend in that it hashelped to solidify a revival of Muslim identity and solidarity . . . thanks to the Internet and satellite television."But Friedman is generally enthusiastic about world-changing trends such as just-in-time inventorying, supply-chaining and insourcing. Those who look forward to a planet of Wal-Marts and Dells will be charmed. Those who don't-well, welcome to the flat world. Author tour
From the Publisher
Praise for Longitudes and Attitudes:

“Friedman has a deep, clear voice, which perfectly complements his highly accessible prose.”—AudioFile

“Eminently worth reading...It is Friedman’s ability to see a few big truths steadily and whole that makes him the most important columnist in America today.” —Walter Russell Mead, The New York Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374292881
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/5/2005
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.24 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas L. Friedman

Thomas L. Friedman has won the Pulitzer Prize three times for his work at The New York Times. He is the author of three best-selling books: From Beiruit to Jerusalem (FSG, 1989), winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction and still considered to be the definitive work on the Middle East, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization (FSG, 1999), and Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11 (FSG, 2002). He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his family.

Biography

When September 11 drastically reshifted America's focus and priorities, Thomas L. Friedman was the author readers turned to as a guide to the dynamics of the Middle East. In a mediascape crowded with pundits, the New York Times foreign affairs columnist and author has emerged as the preeminent commentator in his field, informed by his 20-plus years as a journalist covering the rapidly shifting politics in the region.

The title of his first book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, describes his trajectory as New York Times bureau chief in both cities in the '80s. He interrupted his journalism career in 1988 when the Guggenheim Foundation awarded him a fellowship to write a book about his experiences. The result was a personal narrative that described not only his harrowing experiences in Lebanon and Israel but also contained exposition about the roots of his interest in the Middle East, a visit to Israel that burgeoned into a full-blown obsession. Friedman himself put it best, in the book's prelude: "It is a strange, funny, sometimes violent, and always unpredictable road, this road from Beirut to Jerusalem, and in many ways, I have been traveling it all my adult life." From Beirut to Jerusalem won the National Book Award and spent a year on the Times bestseller list.

This road analogy is one of several Friedman will make over the course of a column or book. He reduces the intimidation factor of complex subjects by offering ample (but not copious) background, plain but intelligent language, and occasional humor. On Iraq's history before Saddam: "Romper Room it was not." On globalization: "If [it] were a sport, it would be the 100-meter dash, over and over and over. And no matter how many times you win, you have to race again the next day."

Friedman again offered complex concepts in appealingly dramatic terms in 1989's The Lexus and the Olive Tree, his distillation of the new global economy. He sets up the contrast between the old, Cold War system ("sumo wrestling") and the new globalization system (the 100-meter dash). Another part of why Friedman can be so readable is that he sometimes makes it seem as if his life is one big kaffeeklatsch with the scholars and decision makers of the world. In a chapter from The Lexus and the Olive Tree, he mentions a comment made by a friend who is also "the leading political columnist in Jordan." The day after seeing this friend, Friedman writes, "I happen to go to Israel and meet with Jacob Frenkel, then governor of Israel's Central Bank and a University of Chicago-trained economist." Thus another illustrative point is made. Friedman frames the world not just as he sees it, but also includes the perspective of the many citizens he has made it a point to include in the dialogue.

In 2002, Friedman won a third Pulitzer for his writing in the New York Times, and the demand for his perspicacity post-September 11 makes the release of Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11 almost a foregone conclusion. Breaking the book into before, during, and after, Friedman presents what he calls a "word album" of America's response to the tragedy. It is undeniably a changed world, and Friedman is undeniably the man to help readers make sense of it.

Good To Know

Friedman lives with his wife Ann and daughters Orly and Natalie in Bethesda, Maryland, a suburb of Washington.

In high school, Friedman became "insufferable" in his obsession with Israel, he says. He wrote in From Beirut to Jersualem: "When the Syrians arrested thirteen Jews in Damascus, I wore a button for weeks that said Free the Damascus 13, which most of my high-school classmates thought referred to an underground offshoot of the Chicago 7. I recall my mother saying to me gently, 'Is that really necessary?' when I put the button on one Sunday morning to wear to our country-club brunch."

As the chief diplomatic correspondent for the New York Times from 1989 to 1992, Friedman logged some 500,000 miles following Secretary of State James Baker and chronicling the end of the Cold War.

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    1. Hometown:
      Washington, D.C. area
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 20, 1953
    2. Place of Birth:
      Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Mediterranean Studies, Brandeis University, 1975; M.A. in Modern Middle East Studies, Oxford University, 1978
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas L. Friedman. To be published in April, 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

ONE

While I Was Sleeping

Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians, and princes who love and promote the holy Christian faith, and are enemies of the doctrine of Mahomet, and of all idolatry and heresy, determined to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the above-mentioned countries of India, to see the said princes, people, and territories, and to learn their disposition and the proper method of converting them to our holy faith; and furthermore directed that I should not proceed by land to the East, as is customary, but by a Westerly route, in which direction we have hitherto no certain evidence that anyone has gone.

—Entry from the journal of Christopher Columbus on his voyage of 1492

No one ever gave me directions like this on a golf course before: "Aim at either Microsoft or IBM." I was standing on the first tee at the KGA Golf Club in downtown Bangalore, in southern India, when my playing partner pointed at two shiny glass-and-steel buildings off in the distance, just behind the first green. The Goldman Sachs building wasn't done yet; otherwise he could have pointed that out as well and made it a threesome. HP and Texas Instruments had their offices on the back nine, along the tenth hole. That wasn't all. The tee markers were from Epson, the printer company, and one of our caddies was wearing a hat from 3M. Outside, some of the traffic signs were also sponsored by Texas Instruments, and the Pizza Hut billboard on the way over showed a steaming pizza, under the headline "Gigabites of Taste!"

No, this definitely wasn't Kansas. It didn't even seem like India. Was this the New World, the Old World, or the Next World?

I had come to Bangalore, India's Silicon Valley, on my own Columbus-like journey of exploration. Columbus sailed with the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María in an effort to discover a shorter, more direct route to India by heading west, across the Atlantic, on what he presumed to be an open sea route to the East Indies—rather than going south and east around Africa, as Portuguese explorers of his day were trying to do. India and the magical Spice Islands of the East were famed at the time for their gold, pearls, gems, and silk—a source of untold riches. Finding this shortcut by sea to India, at a time when the Muslim powers of the day had blocked the overland routes from Europe, was a way for both Columbus and the Spanish monarchy to become wealthy and powerful. When Columbus set sail, he apparently assumed the Earth was round, which was why he was convinced that he could get to India by going west. He miscalculated the distance, though. He thought the Earth was a smaller sphere than it is. He also did not anticipate running into a landmass before he reached the East Indies. Nevertheless, he called the aboriginal peoples he encountered in the new world "Indians." Returning home, though, Columbus was able to tell his patrons, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, that although he never did find India, he could confirm that the world was indeed round.

I set out for India by going due east, via Frankfurt. I had Lufthansa business class. I knew exactly which direction I was going thanks to the GPS map displayed on the screen that popped out of the armrest of my airline seat. I landed safely and on schedule. I too encountered people called Indians. I too was searching for the source of India's riches. Columbus was searching for hardware—precious metals, silk, and spices—the source of wealth in his day. I was searching for software, brainpower, complex algorithms, knowledge workers, call centers, transmission protocols, breakthroughs in optical engineering—the sources of wealth in our day. Columbus was happy to make the Indians her met his slaves, a pool of free manual labor.

I just wanted to understand why the Indians I met were taking our work, why they had become such an important pool for the outsourcing of service and information technology work from America and other industrialized countries. Columbus had more than one hundred men on his three ships; I had a small crew from the Discovery Times channel that fit comfortably into two banged-up vans, with Indian drivers who drove barefoot. When I set sail, so to speak, I too assumed that the world was round, but what I encountered in the real India profoundly shook my faith in that notion. Columbus accidentally ran into America but thought he had discovered part of India. I actually found India and thought many of the people I met there were Americans. Some had actually taken American names, and others were doing great imitations of American accents at call centers and American business techniques at software labs.

Columbus reported to his king and queen that the world was round, and he went down in history as the man who first made this discovery. I returned home and shared my discovery only with my wife, and only in a whisper.

"Honey," I confided, "I think the world is flat."

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Table of Contents

1 While I was sleeping 3
2 The ten forces that flattened the world 48
Flattener #1. 11/9/89
Flattener #2. 8/9/95
Flattener #3. Work flow software
Flattener #4. Open-sourcing
Flattener #5. Outsourcing
Flattener #6. Offshoring
Flattener #7. Supply-chaining
Flattener #8. Insourcing
Flattener #9. In-forming
Flattener #10. The steroids
3 The triple convergence 173
4 The great sorting out 201
5 America and free trade 225
6 The untouchables 237
7 The quiet crisis 250
8 This is not a test 276
9 The Virgin of Guadalupe 309
10 How companies cope 339
11 The unflat world 371
12 The Dell theory of conflict prevention 414
13 11/9 versus 9/11 441
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Reading Group Guide

About This Guide
The questions and discussion topics that follow are designed to enhance your reading of Thomas L. Friedman's The World Is Flat. We hope they will enrich your experience as you explore this vivid, thought-provoking tour of globalization.

Introduction
Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman delivers a vivid account of the human element behind both the triumphs and the perils of globalization. This timely and essential report from the front lines of offshoring, outsourcing, and other "flattening" factors in our world makes sense of the often bewildering economic, political, and security issues currently at play in the international realm. Friedman examines hundreds of fascinating pieces in this puzzle-from the intricate systems that produce rich rewards for Wal-Mart to Y2K's role in rocketing the careers of computer scientists in India-and assembles them with refreshing clarity.

Whether in Bangalore or Beijing, Friedman asks brilliant questions of everyone he encounters. The truth he distills from their responses brings a new perspective to the ways in which CEOs and religious radicals, entrepreneurs and garden-variety consumers, all create ripples that stir the geopolitical tide. The World Is Flat shows how each of us has an undeniable stake in globalization.

Questions for Discussion
1. The first chapter in The World Is Flat recalls the voyage of Columbus, colonization, and industrialization. Are the motivations behind twenty-first-century globalization much different from the ones recorded throughout history?

2. Thomas L. Friedman discusses the many occupations that can now be outsourced or offshored, including his own job as a journalist. Could your job be done by someone in another country? Could you do your job better from home, as the JetBlue telephone agents do? Would you feel comfortable knowing that your taxes had been prepared by an overseas accountant, or your CAT scan read by an overseas radiologist? (Chapter One)

3. The second chapter outlines "Ten Forces That Flattened the World," ranging from the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, to the open-source software movement. In what way did politics influence entrepreneurship in the 1990s? What psychological impact did November 9 have on the world, particularly when paired with new means for global communication?

4. What is your opinion of the open-source movement? Should there be any limit to the amount of freedom, including "freedom" from the demand to make a profit, in the technology marketplace? (Chapter Two)

5. What qualities enabled India to take center stage when the looming Y2K scenario generated unprecedented demand for programmers? What can other nations learn from India's success in this realm? What are India's greatest vulnerabilities? (Chapter Two)

6. Discuss the ruthless efficiency demanded by supply-chaining. In the long run, does it benefit consumers? Do you believe it enhances or reduces production quality? (Chapter Two)

7. Were you familiar with the concept of "insourcing" prior to reading The World Is Flat? Does it matter to you whether your computer is repaired by an employee of Toshiba or of UPS? Should it matter? (Chapter Two)

8. Friedman calls the tenth flattener "steroids." Are these crucial to success, or are they luxuries? Will the globe's nonsteroidal citizens be able to compete without them? (Chapter Two)

9. In what ways has the Triple Convergence affected your day-to-day life? (Chapter Three)

10. Discuss the "Indiana versus India" anecdote, recounted in the second section of Chapter Four. Which approach benefits Americans more: offshoring state projects and cutting taxpayer expenditures, or paying higher wages to maintain job security at home?

11. Chapter Six, "The Untouchables," features the story of Friedman's childhood friend Bill Greer. What does his story indicate about flattening in the creative fields? Will illustrators lose out to Illustrator? What would it take for you to become an untouchable?

12. Chapter Seven, "The Quiet Crisis," outlines three dirty secrets regarding American dominance: fewer young Americans pursuing careers in math and science, and the demise of both ambition and brainpower among American youth. What accounts for this? What would it take to restore academic rigor and the enthusiasm enjoyed during the "man on the moon" days?

13. Which of the proposals in Chapter Eight, "This Is Not a Test," would you be able to implement?

14. In Chapter Nine's third section, "I Can Only Get It for You Retail," Friedman offers a vivid portrait of the "neighborhoods" comprising various parts of the globe today. How will those neighborhoods look one hundred years from now? Will America still be a gated community, and Asia "the other side of the tracks"?

15. Friedman contemplates the cultural traits (such as motivated, educated workers and leaders who don't squander the nation's treasure) that drive a nation's success. He uses this to illustrate why Mexico, despite NAFTA, has become the tortoise while China has become the hare. Does America fit Friedman's cultural profile as a nation poised for prosperity? (Chapter Nine)

16. Do you work for a company that is implementing any of Friedman's coping strategies? Which of them would be the most controversial in your industry? (Chapter Ten)

17. What do you make of the approach taken by Bill Gates's foundation to combat disease? In your opinion, what are the roots of the public-health crisis in the Third World? (Chapter Eleven)

18. How did the book's images of India compare to your previous perceptions of it, from the country-club atmosphere described on the first page to the tragedy of the untouchables? (Chapters One and Eleven)

19. Compare The World Is Flat and Longitudes and Attitudes to Friedman's pre-9/11 books, The Lexus and the Olive Tree and From Beirut to Jerusalem. Has the author's approach to current affairs changed much since 9/11? Has al-Qaeda achieved any of its political goals in the fifteen-year span represented by all four books?

20. Do you have faith in Michael Dell's theory of conflict prevention? What can we do to ensure that the strategic optimists win? And when they do, what dreams do you have for the world they will create? (Chapter Twelve)

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 217 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2008

    The Bible on Globalization

    This is the Bible on globalization. Friedman not only writes well, but does so on this very important subject. He states, 'It is now possible for more people than ever to collaborate and compete in real time with more people on more different kinds of work from more different corners of the planet and on a more equal footing than at any previous time in the history of the world.' What is more sobering is Friedman's elaboration on Bill Gates' statement, 'When I compare our high schools to what I see when I'm traveling abroad, I am terrified for our work force of tomorrow. In math and science, our fourth graders are among the top students in the world. By eighth grade, they're in the middle of the pack. By 12th grade, U.S. students are scoring near the bottom of all industrialized nations. . . . The percentage of a population with a college degree is important, but so are sheer numbers. In 2001, India graduated almost a million more students from college than the United States did. China graduates twice as many students with bachelor's degrees as the U.S., and they have six times as many graduates majoring in engineering. In the international competition to have the biggest and best supply of knowledge workers, America is falling behind.' This is Friedman's main point. He sees a dangerous complacency, from Washington down through the public school system. Students are no longer motivated. 'In China today, Bill Gates is Britney Spears. In America today, Britney Spears is Britney Spears--and that is our problem.' America is losing its edge--a point that is also very well stated in Fareed Zakaria's The Post-American World.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The World is Flat

    "The World is Flat", by Friedman is a provacitive look at the effects of significant historical events, international policies, and the development of emerging technologies on our world. Friedman contends that the world has flattened as a result of all of these forces and life will never be the same as a result Friedman explores the flattening of the world and the effects it will have on the future for Americans and other nations across the world. I was thoroughly impressed with the research and intelligent perspectives provided in this book. I highly recommend this book, enjoy!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 16, 2009

    Had to read for class at U of M. Nothing earth-shattering about it, several very good quotes, however.

    I do not typically read books of this genre; however, this was a requirement for a class I was taking. I learned more from other sources, mostly on the Web. The book is mostly cheer-leading, a sort of 100,000-companies-can't-be-wrong view of outsourcing/offshoring.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Scary truths of American society or social extremism?

    This book was truly an eye opener about American society as whole. From call centers in Bangalore to call centers Salt Lake City, Utah, - It is important for Americans to know what is happening in the world around us that, according to Friedman, is continuously getting smaller.<BR/><BR/>However, as a soon-to-be college grad with a business background, I set up some meetings with my professors about this book to discuss some of the facts of world globalization. Where all of what Friedman talks about is very true, it doesn't seem to be bearing down with his analytical intensity. In many ways, Friedman makes all jobs outside the mathematical/scientific realm obsolete by 2020. Maybe I disagree with the idea that earning a J.D. in environmental law will be obsolete, especially with the ever growing environmental issues. However, what I do take seriously is that - in whatever field of work I choose - I have to work harder than I would have 20 years ago. This is not up for debate!<BR/><BR/>Great book! It was a very quiet 600 pages. Friedman is such a great writer that I plowed through this in 4 days and didn't even realize it was as long as it was!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Must Read!: The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman

    Friedman discusses the significant technological changes in our society as well as the effects of those changes on the world - the global world. He addresses how the process began when the Berlin Wall came down in East Germany on November 9, 1989. In turn, this event began the process of the "flattening of the world." In other words, the way the world conducted its economic business changed drastically, and with the introduction of the Personal Computer, the global world became flatter and flatter; the world became more and more connected on a global (flat) level. The internet was introduced, followed by the inventions of Microsoft, Apple, Google, Yahoo, Netscape, Skype, iPods, YouTube, cell phones; the list is endless. He also discusses how businesses outsource, insource, etc. For example, if an airline loses someone's luggage, when that person calls the airline to try and retrieve it, he/she is most likely speaking to a customer service person in Bangalor. Friedman's examples are fascinating.
    I enjoyed reading the first two-thirds of this book. Friedman uses incredible examples of today's businesses by interviewing CEOs and spokespeople from UPS, Walmart, Apple, Microsoft, etc. He also travels to countries such as India, China, Japan and Germany in order to explore this "flattening" effect. He also warns us that if we do not start teaching our kids the required skills for this global world, then they will have a difficult time surviving the twenty-first century. The last third of the book he points out the downside to technology and provides some examples: ethics, plagiarism, yellow journalism. My only critique is that the last third was a bit wordy. I got his point by page 500. I do, however, recommend reading it. Friedman is an eye-opener!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 5, 2008

    Why is the world flat?

    The book The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman, is non-fiction, insightful book mainly about the author¿s personal experiences with the leveling of the world¿s communication and information transfer. Friedman explains to the reader through his experiences, a brief history of the 21st Century. He outlines the world¿s flattening into three eras of globalization, ¿Globalization 1.0 was countries globalizing and the dynamic force in Globalization 2.0 was companies globalizing, the dynamic force in Globalization 3.0 ¿ the thing that gives it its unique character ¿ is the newfound power for individuals to collaborate and compete globally (10).¿ He explains the shifting of the world, from being isolated geographically, to a more integrated world that is dependant on the resources and information that countries around the world supply. "It unlocked half the planet and made citizens there our potential partners and competitors (441).¿ The book helps the reader to understand the transition from the age of industry to the age of technology.<BR/> To better understand the man behind the book it is important to know about him. He is a very accomplished writer that won the three Pulitzer Prize for commentary for the New York Times, and has written: From Beirut to Jerusalem in 1989, The Lexus and the Olive Tree in 2000, Longitudes and Attitudes: The World in the Age of Terrorism in 2002, and Israel: A Photo biography. Most of which have won awards for best non-fiction or foreign policy. Most of Friedman¿s writings are based off the ideals of globalization, especially The World is Flat.<BR/> Thomas Friedman explains, in The World is Flat, how the world has shifted economically as far as the workforce because of the increasing need for math, science and technology as tools for progress, and the ability through technology for the United States to compete globally. Through capitalism companies want to maximize their profits by hiring the most qualified people for the job with the least amount of money. This is the whole concept of outsourcing and why American jobs are leaving the country. In his book he says, ¿This is what I mean when I say the world has been flattened. It is the contemporary convergence of the ten flatteners, creating this new global playing field for multiple forms of collaboration (177).¿ <BR/>I feel that this is one hundred percent true and that the author did an excellent job of providing many examples and in depth analysis. There are many options that a business owner looks at and the clear choice in every scenario is to hire the smartest people to offer the highest quality product with the lowest labor cost possible. This is shown throughout history that business owners always make the cheapest choice possible, even when it isn¿t morally right. The whole concept of slavery or child labor is to maximize profit, even though we all know it is morally wrong. Outsourcing isn¿t necessarily wrong. It¿s just a smart business decision based on keeping labor costs down and today¿s technology allows companies to employ people across the world as though they were in the same building. Proving my point Friedman explains, ¿Wages and rents in Bangalore are less than one fifth of what they are in those Western capitals (18).¿<BR/> Over all, I thought it was a very informative book that gives the reader a different perspective of how the different technologies that we take for granted now, like computers and internet are shaping the world. Ma

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2008

    Reality Check

    As I entered my freshman year of college I was nervous, excited and I was ready to start fresh. My first day my Buiness Professor was talking about the cirrculum and mentioned that we should all take a look at this book. For some reason I took his advice and read this book that is some 600 plus pages'I never read prior to this unless force'.I did it not cause I was forced to but I wanted to learn and that is what Friedman tries getting across IQ,PQ,CQ Chapters. I am only 19 years old but I currently work in a hotel that caters to Multi Million dollar buisness such as EMC Corp and Waters Corp and I got to witness first hand that globalziation indeed is no joke and something we should not take lightly. I often interacted with many people from China,Japan,and India and I often found myself asking them how they felt about Globlization. All of them embraced it because it is a chance for these people to take what they learn bring it home and build on it. Globalization is nothing we should fear it something we should embrace.I also work with three India interns all of them have a work ethic like no other and they have that drive to be better. They could not understand why us americans throw away all the oppurtinutes we have,he told me to ask a child parents what it means to be an engineer or doctor and you will understand why we work everyday to get better. I am now going into my sophmore year of College and you best believe I am going to work study and network more than ever.If I dont I know that someone in China or India is this should be a serious reality check to all young adults. I am not saying stay in and study your life away cause this is where I think these international students lose their edge is with their shyness. Work as Hard as you play is my best advice to all young adults like myself. Great Book Next One is Tipping Point

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2008

    I Will Continue To Learn More

    Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat opened my eyes to a new realm. As I began to read the book a since of fear and worry came over me. I didn't know if I should cry or settle myself and gather more insight on the flat world. Friedman gives a great introduction to how the world began to be flat. He is very specific on details with the way he carries you on his journey to learning about the flat world. It allowed me to be able to imagine being right there with him from the airport, and to the other countries all over the world. This book shows you how America and other countries began to connect with each other. As I began to read the book it was a page turner for me. I am not a book reader. I will read if I have to like I did for this book for an assignment. But the more I got engaged in the book I didn't care that it was for a grade, I wanted to know more to help me prepare myself and other people for the next level. Friedman helped a lot in this venture by giving tips on how we can continue to learn new things about technology, become more familiar with outsourcing, and other people across the globe. I no longer have ill feelings about the ties America has with other countries. I now want to be more apart of it and educate other people on this topic. Reading this book will definitely help people to become more knowledgeable about how no matter how old or intelligent you think you are, their is still more to learn. The way that smart people stay ahead is they never want to stop learning. They also fill as though their job is never finished. Friedman definitely expresses this in his book. After completing this book I am eager to read more information or experiences from people about the flat world.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2008

    The world REALLY is flat!

    The World is Flat: The title is a bit misleading and does not allow the average book-scouter even a small hint into the gut of this book. Thomas Friedman does an excellent job at convincing the reader that the world is indeed, flat: flattened by technology. This book is broken into seven sections and in each section, Friedman points out the reason for this flattening and does so in a manner that is broken into comprehensible parts that makes this book easy-to-follow and easy to understand. These sections, while easy-to-follow, are hard to swallow. The global transformation, also referenced to as Globalization 3.0, will make it difficult for the U.S. population to find jobs if they are not educated in the fields of engineering and math, which are two areas that India and China are being ever-so educated in. Friedman is very particular and careful as he chooses real-life situations, verifiable statistics, private conversations, and confirmable case studies in order to bring his point of view to a personal and believable level for the average reader those readers who are not aware of outsourcing or home-sourcing, and who would have a hard time believing average-daily statistical quotes. For example, Friedman not only informs the reader of how eBay can open doors for the handicapped population, he goes a step further and relays a personal experience by eBay¿s CEO, Meg Whitman, and her meeting with a seventeen-year-old-wheel-chair-bound-boy who has become a successful eBay entrepreneur, so successful that his mom and dad, both, quit their jobs in order to help with his eBay business. This book is definitely a must-read. I must admit, by reading this book, my view of our world has been broadened, my interest in technology has been heightened, and my overall view of Globalization 3.0 has generated me to become better prepared for my future in this ever-so-flattening-world.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    The World is Flat A Brief History of the 21st Century by Thomas Freidman is an eye-opening book that will enlighten many readers into industry and efficiency that goes on around us without us ever even knowing. Freidman describes for us in this book how technology that he has learned of and witnessed through his travels across the world have been put in place and now play an intrical part in each of our lives from who we talk to as we make reservations for a plane ticket to who we are actually talking to when we order a hamburger at the local drive-thru. Technology, Frediman describes, has reinvented these jobs. So much so, that these jobs can now be performed by someone in another country in a whole other part of the globe. This book is a must read for parents who, after being challenged by Freidman, will get a renewed desire to educated your children in all areas of their lives. While describing for readers the technology he has seen which he adds is the reasoning for the flattness transforming our world, Freidman discusses in length the challenges ahead of our educational system and the role that parents will take if we as Americans are to have successful children in this new society. This book is a must read for those people who, like myself, don't fully realize how much technology has grasped our lives and how much we need to learn in order to maintain our competitiveness in society. Globilization is a factor to be reckoned with. We can either be a part of the change or be left behind.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2008

    What a Flat World We Live In¿

    The World is Flat A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century By: Thomas L. Friedman 488 pp. Farras, Straus & Giroux. $27.50 Over the years, Thomas Friedman has been writing books that have talked about what he has seen and experienced during his life. In the World is Flat, Friedman starts off talking about his travels around the world visiting different corporations and talking with the presidents, CEOs, and other employees for them. What he discovers very quickly is that most companies if not all, have turned to new technologies and modern day communication methods to conduct their day to day business transactions. Friedman talks a lot about how the US has been one of the strongest and most powerful countries, however the US has fallen asleep in some areas so now many other countries are catching up with us and are able to perform the jobs and services we could only perform at a much cheaper and practical cost for corporations. Friedman also talks about the different era¿s we have experienced and what we need to do to make sure we end up on top. He introduces our current era as Globalization 3.0, which has a main focus on the individuals. Friedman believes that if we as American do not wake up and start caring more about what is going to happen to our jobs that pay our bills then we could all be out of a job very soon because people in other countries are getting the education and have the appreciation that we lack to do different jobs. Friedman also talks about companies that we all know and use in our day to day lives that are outsourcing currently and we don¿t even realize they are doing it. So what caused this flatting? Friedman says many things took place along the way to get us in this place to include the: dot.com bubble, stock market crash, fall of the Berlin Wall, Y2K scares, 9/11, internet, Google, etc. So as you can see from the above list, these are new inventions or events that have taken place over many years and there is little we could of done to stop any of it. Since there was little that we could have done differently we have to find a way to stop as much of it as we can before it is too late. Another scary things brought up in the books is that we all need to think about what is going on in our flat world and then think 15 years from now what things will look like when our children are grown up and working to support their families. Overall, I do recommend this book to others. I think Friedman does a good job with this book and it will open people's eyes to what is going on in the world we live in.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Insightful of the Near Future

    In this book Friedman sets up how the world has been and is being flattened in juxtaposition to Columbus' finding that the world is round (Ironically, one can make the case, with Friedman, that Columbus was one who started the flattening process, see 1491 and 1493 by Mann). Bringing together several different historical events and the power of the internet, Friedman shows how the world is changing. He presents many of the benefits as well as the problems. His perspective provides some good resources for thinking about our future directions both as individuals and as a nation. I found the book very insightful.

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  • Posted November 1, 2013

    Must read!

    If you really want to know what is going on with the economy, thus book is an eye opener. Friedman looks at globalization from several different perspectives that gives us pause to think about our ethics and spending habits. Everyone over the age of 13 needs to read this to redesign his or her future.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2013

    Good info but too long

    Overall, an excellent book but could have been condensed.

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  • Posted April 9, 2013

    The World Is Flat [Updated and Expanded]: A Brief History of the

    The World Is Flat [Updated and Expanded]: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas L. Friedman examines the social, political, and technological forces that are bringing the peoples of our world closer together. Within its pages, Mr. Friedman illustrates how the flattening of the world is creating an increasingly interconnected business environment where businesses large and small as well as knowledge workers from the United States to India will compete in the global marketplace.

    Globalization of the marketplace presents new opportunities and new challenges to businesses of all sizes and people of all countries. As the speed of communication and transportation increases, so does the ability of a company or a person to deliver products and services anywhere in the world. With billions of highly educated and motivated people entering the marketplace from India and China, competition is increasing exponentially.

    While many of us sensed the flattening of the world, The World Is Flat expertly illustrates what and how these forces are shaping our environment. I believe executives and managers armed with this insight will be better able to take advantage of existing flat world opportunities and envision and leverage future changes; enabling their organizations to remain competitive in the ever flattening world.

    All the Best,
    Nathan Ives
    StrategyDriven Principal

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2012

    The world is bounded & not infinite

    What happens when the developing world becomes the developed world as us certainly suggested by Mr. Fruedman? Does it then become a matter of degree?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    Long but interesting

    Surprisingly valid and thought provocing even several years after being written

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2012

    Thought provoking and eye opening

    The book is easy reading and eye opening to the power and trends of globalization in today's society.

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  • Posted September 16, 2010

    A great incite into the 21st century

    I was impressed by how great of a look into the changes we face as Americans this century. The books offers great insight into what a flat world really is, and how we're getting there. It also shows all of the pros and cons to a totally flat world. Then offers solutions on how businesses, and individuals can succeed in a more competitive, flat market. Some of the pros are reduced tension between countries which share trade. Such as China the U.S. The book also described how we as a country can learn to make good out of a bad situation, such as 9/11. I really enjoyed all of the facts that came out of this book. It was a great read, though a little long.
    I generally don't read long books, since I find most of it is a waste, though this book was good, even though it was very long.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2010

    Must Read!

    Thomas Friedman successfully summarizes the condition of the world in this amazing book. When Columbus sailed the technologies available to him proved that the world is indeed round, but ever since then it has been flattening out to the twenty first century civilization we have today. Fiber Optics, Computers, the internet, all of these inventions have made it possible to shrink the world we live in. A person from America can call a help line and get help from a person sitting on the other end of the line in India. A doctor in India can perform an operation on a person in Europe. An thanks to the interned business groups no longer need to travel for hours and hours on long flights for a quick meeting. They can now see each other, hear each other and watch the same presentation at the same time on the opposite sides of the world.

    After covering this Friedman makes sure to point out that such developments and the relaxation of Americans may lead to an unpleasant future. As information booths and productions move out to china and India America is losing jobs and companies to countries like China and India that are profiting from the gain in workers as well as the gain in ideas. While The United States is enjoying cheap labor China is educating more college graduates ready to take over companies. For example in the US an average fourth grader may be well above the average fourth grader in China but by eighth grade he becomes on the same level and by senior year the Chinese student has surpassed the American student. That is quite frightening. with an increasingly more technological world it become easier and easier for countries to intertwine and use each other. In order to do that there need to be people smart enough in the country to know what to do in a company.

    Friedman takes these ideas and introduces them to the reader with shocking truths about the twenty first century world we live in today. It's langthy but once you begin you won't be able to stop. all the facts are researched, all the ideas are clear and everything is explained.

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