Sunday, July 10, 2005

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman

There was so much I wanted to write about this book. I know that the right, left, and center all take issue with Friedman, but I admire his columns a great deal. In fact, I've never been so irritated by a newspaper as I was by the NYT when they moved he and Maureen Dowd's regular op-ed pieces from Sunday to Wednesday… Who reads the paper on Wednesday?

I've got volumes of correspondence on The World is Flat -- with my father in Texas, the Senator in Qatar, big bosses to whom I sent the book, and of course, with my beloved Professor. I wanted to take the time to go through each of these, mine the gems and present them here for Lynn & Weezel, my only two readers. But as the good man says, "these clouds keep on rollin by and I don't know why" - so of course, the time has passed. I'm six books behind again, but all of them have been written about…

I don't want the past to drag on the present until it is stale too, so I'm going to post only a brief overview of Friedman's fascinating look at our modern global economy. Besides, after about 30 weeks on the non-fiction best seller's list, most everyone has apparently bought a copy of this book already, so I guess me reviewing it is hardly a scoop.

Friedman tells us that the world has been flattened. What he means by this is that, essentially, globalization has come weather we like it or not, and that we are now all part of a deeply interconnected global economy and culture, with an incredibly fast rate of evolution. The first portion of the book addresses the recent history of how we got here. The middle portion describes in endless detail those companies and countries which stand to benefit the most from having taken advantage of this new world order. The end poses a series of challenges, familiar to readers to Friedman's columns, which face the modern United States and her citizens.

The book is fascinating, if not exactly a page-turner. Stylistically, I'm forced to indight Friedman for having become too accustomed to rely upon economy of words in his columns. As a result, this book frequently feels redundant. He'll make the point in four paragraphs, then keep running over the same ground for another 50 pages.

Most importantly though, Tom Friedman is probably RIGHT. And that makes this book worth the time.

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