The World Is Flat [Updated and Expanded]: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century

The World Is Flat [Updated and Expanded]: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century

by Thomas L. Friedman

Hardcover(Updated and Expanded Edition)

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Overview

"One mark of a great book is that it makes you see things in a new way, and Mr. Friedman certainly succeeds in that goal," the Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote in The New York Times, reviewing The World Is Flat in 2005. For this updated and expanded edition, Friedman has seen his own book in a new way, bringing fresh stories and insights to help us understand the flattening of the world. New material includes:

• The reasons why the flattening of the world "will be seen in time as one of those fundamental shifts or inflection points, like Gutenberg's invention of the printing press, the rise of the nation-state, or the Industrial Revolution"

• An explanation of "uploading" as one of the ten forces that are flattening the world, as blogging, open-source software, pooled knowledge projects like Wikipedia, and podcasting enable individuals to bring their experiences and opinions to the whole world

• A mapping of the New Middle—the places and spaces in the flat world where middle-class jobs will be found—and portraits of the character types who will find success as New Middlers

•An account of the qualities American parents and teachers need to cultivate in young people so that they will be able to thrive in the flat world

•A call for a government-led "geo-green" strategy to preserve the environment and natural resources

•An account of the "globalization of the local": how the flattening of the world is actually strengthening local and regional identities rather than homogenizing the world

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374292799
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 04/18/2006
Edition description: Updated and Expanded Edition
Pages: 616
Product dimensions: 6.25(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.62(d)

About the Author

Thomas L. Friedman has won the Pulitzer Prize three times for his work at The New York Times, where he serves as the foreign affairs columnist. He is the author of three previous books, all of them bestsellers: From Beirut to Jerusalem, winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction; The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization; and Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11. In 2005 The World Is Flat was given the first Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award, and Friedman was named one of America's Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his family.

Hometown:

Washington, D.C. area

Date of Birth:

July 20, 1953

Place of Birth:

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Education:

B.A. in Mediterranean Studies, Brandeis University, 1975; M.A. in Modern Middle East Studies, Oxford University, 1978

Reading Group Guide

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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