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The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century Hardcover – Apr 5 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1 edition (April 5 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374292884
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374292881
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 4 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 794 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #102,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Before 9/11, New York Times columnist Friedman was best known as the author of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, one of the major popular accounts of globalization and its discontents. Having devoted most of the last four years of his column to the latter as embodied by the Middle East, Friedman picks up where he left off, saving al-Qaeda et al. for the close. For Friedman, cheap, ubiquitous telecommunications have finally obliterated all impediments to international competition, and the dawning "flat world" is a jungle pitting "lions" and "gazelles," where "economic stability is not going to be a feature" and "the weak will fall farther behind." Rugged, adaptable entrepreneurs, by contrast, will be empowered. The service sector (telemarketing, accounting, computer programming, engineering and scientific research, etc.), will be further outsourced to the English-spoken abroad; manufacturing, meanwhile, will continue to be off-shored to China. As anyone who reads his column knows, Friedman agrees with the transnational business executives who are his main sources that these developments are desirable and unstoppable, and that American workers should be preparing to "create value through leadership" and "sell personality." This is all familiar stuff by now, but the last 100 pages on the economic and political roots of global Islamism are filled with the kind of close reporting and intimate yet accessible analysis that have been hard to come by. Add in Friedman's winning first-person interjections and masterful use of strategic wonksterisms, and this book should end up on the front seats of quite a few Lexuses and SUVs of all stripes. (Apr. 5)

From 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you've been on a space station for the past 6 years, or -- as I have been -- living (& pre-occupied with renovating an old house) in the rural south-east "toe" of New Brunswick where nobody reads anything & the topics of conversation are the collapse of the cod fishery and the price of lumber, this book would be a revelation, as indeed it was for me. I had no idea of the extent of change since I retired from the world of business in 2000. I was greatly impressed by what this book had to say.

But...6 months have passed, I cancelled "Time" & got a subscription to "The Economist" & have been reading more widely & Friedman's book begins to seem more superficial & less brilliant.

I have usually avoided best-sellers because my experience has been that any book which appeals to the least commmon demoninator must be simplistic, glib & trendy. While "The World is Flat" is all of the above, it was interesting and useful to me in my state of ignorance about the early 21st century Global Economy. But it is certainly not the last or best word on the subject.
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on July 15 2006
Format: Hardcover
The World Is Flat is an easy, if long, read about the nature of global competition among countries, companies and individuals as circumstances stood in 2004.

Let me describe his key points. Mr. Friedman begins by describing ten forces that were powerful in creating today's extreme business competition on a global scale (the fall of the Berlin Wall, advances in computer communications and software, reductions in cost to connect organizations together by computer-directed instructions, new ways of partnering and the rise of portable, real-time information access over the Internet). He then describes a triple convergence that has accelerated change: World-wide, real-time, flexible collaboration that allows more horizontal ways to provide value; companies learning how to use the new technologies to create new types of organizations, services and structures; and the entry of several billion new people into global business competition.

Mr. Friedman goes on to describe the implications of the 2004 world for the future. He sees a need for more education, greater specialization, learning new skills and moving up the ladder of adding more value . . . or a job, a company or a country will see its position degraded or even replaced by a more effective competitor elsewhere. For the United States, he sees a "quiet crisis" as other nations outrace its citizens for advanced education and work harder to compete. Today's lead can soon become tomorrow's obsolescence. In the meantime, consumers will benefit from cheaper imported goods and offshore services.

For developing countries, the challenge is greater. They were behind to start with. Mexico finds itself being displaced by China in serving the U.S. market, even though Mexico is right next door.
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Format: Hardcover
In "Slaugherhouse Five", Kurt Vonnegut introduced us to the Tralfamadoreans. These bizarre creatures said humans have a confined view of the world. It's as if we were sealed in a container, looking at the world down a long, narrow pipe. Thomas Friedman fits that description well in this book on how "globalisation" has developed over the past decade. Artfully portraying how large corporations are extending their reach around the globe, what he sees is intense and rewarding. What he misses is depressing and possibly calamitous. Although Friedman's sprightly style and unbounded enthusiasm is initially captiviating, a different feeling arises after you close the final page. The worst thing that can be said about this book is that everything Friedman says in it is true.
What is globalisation? Friedman sees it as technology spreading the wealth from industrialised to developing nations. Collapsing barriers, particularly "trade barriers" help promote economic development for both First and Third World countries. He proposes a ten step historical sequence of forces that promoted globalisation. These forces, in his view, enabled the spread of Western electronic technology, encouraging economic growth. From the fall of the Berlin Wall through "outsourcing" to utilise cheap labour, to wireless communication, these forces converged to give us a true "global village". It's more than widening the labour pool. Friedman cheers the idea of his taxes being done in Bangalore or CAT scans taken in Cape Cod being diagnosed in Melbourne. All that concerns Friedman is that the information be turned around overnight ready for delivery the next morning. He claims that the knowledge needed in New York is goading leaps in education to provide it in places like India and China.
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Format: Hardcover
Mostly dated book on the impact of globalization. Manufacturing jobs to China, programmers and telemarketers in India, and on and on it goes. Certainly anyone who is a businessman should read this book if they didn't already know the offshoring and outsourcing effect.

Friedman's writing is decent, although at times repetitive and laborious to read.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a powerful book if somewhat flawed. It is always a treat to read well written prose and the topics he raises are important. For that reason I give this book five stars. Although the writing is first rate I was left with the feeling of that the perspective it offers is somewhat imbalanced. It certainly is a call to arms but perhaps Friedman over reaches in this manifesto and makes conclusions that do not always follow. In my opinion the "flatness" we now perceive, a seeming equality of individuals through the Internet is an illusions. The institutions which act like filters are still present and act as filters even now on the Internet. Through its evolution the Internet will more and more fall in line.
Globalization is a genie that the US in my opinion let out of the bottle. I do not see that it was an inevitability.
Further Friedman neglects to emphasize the sheer power the United States still wields in the world.

Are Y2K, the rise of China and the World Trade Center attack are all some of the most important events of this emerging century were these changes inevitable or where they the result of poor judgment of US foreign policy over the past 15 years? From my perspective many of these mistakes were made by our politician most especially in the Clinton years (despite good intentions) but there has also been a cancer that has been eating away at our society for a long while most notably in education and in our intelligence community. We have overestimated our power while trying to express a largess in a world that seems to only boil over more with anti-Americanism. We have served up hope to the third world without coming through which can only make the populations of the third world more anti-American.
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