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The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman (Book Review 007)


ISBN: 0141022728

Tagline: The Globalized world in the Twenty-First century

Hanging around for almost a month with The World is Flat, I finally completed it despite all the time constraints I was under. I have never read such a thick book back-to-back in my life until this one and this book is very special not just in that sense. I could have completed it within a short span but the sheer density of information and ideas in this book forced me to read it slowly and in parts.
So I used to read a couple of pages and then sit back and ponder about them in my free time in order to assimilate the information well.

After reading the first few pages of this book I understood how important and dense this book was and to beat the density which posed such a challenge, I actually used a pencil to underline important points as I read this book. Why? This isn’t just a book to be read and kept in the cupboard to gather dust; it can serve as a great reference book for a variety of purposes.

About the Author

Thomas L. Friedman works for The New York Times and is one of the world’s most respected journalists, renowned for his expertise on international affairs and economic issues. He has won the Pulitzer Prize three times and is the author of international best sellers like “From Beirut to Jerusalem”, “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” and “Longitudes and Attitudes”.

The World is Flat

In this book the author has charted the technologies that have affected our lives most profoundly and made the world a much smaller place (or Flat) by breaking the barriers to communication and cultural exchange. This book is a dense store house of information which covers stuff from 11/9 when the Berlin wall came down to 9/11 when the tragic WTC attacks took place and beyond. It tells us why the world shrunk and what technologies and players are responsible for this.

In the next set of chapters the author discusses the affects of the Flattening of the world on America with clear emphasis and the out-sourcing phenomenon and moving of jobs from America to Asia. The author is rightly concerned about the falling number of fresh American engineers and rising average age of the existing group of engineers. He emphasizes on the need for America to revamp their education system at the school level so that it continues to drive the world into new frontiers of innovation and technology. The author talks about the kind of jobs that can be outsourced or automated and the people (which he calls The Untouchables) that cannot be affected by this out-sourcing phenomenon as they always stay one step ahead of it.

Then there is a chapter about developing countries in the Flat World. The author highlights some of the short comings of various developing countries bring to forefront the lack-luster performance of the respective governments in certain cases.

The author also discusses about the people who have not been able to take advantage of the Flat world i.e. poverty stricken people in various developing and under-developed countries and people living in closed societies which have made themselves impervious to external influences. He has also written at length about certain obvious and not so obvious forces that hamper the flattening process of the world and also talked about how terrorists are using the Flat World platform to their advantage.

In the chapters pertaining to the affect of Flat world on America and the Developing Countries of the World, the author has mentioned many points which are very unique and innovative in my opinion. What he has mentioned seem to me like the characteristics or the directive principles to any country to become a superpower in this world. Another very good point in my opinion is the idea of America moving to alternative sources of energy and reducing its dependence on Oil imports which will help cut down on pollution, Global Warming, exhaustion of non-renewable energy sources and also shut the income sources of certain dangerous state and non-state players which are a threat to World Peace. I think this is not just for America but can be extended to many countries like India and China which are contributing massively to Global Air Pollution levels.

I have spent almost a month with this book and analyzed the length, breadth and depth of ideas mentioned in here. The author has traveled to many countries, spoken to many people and learnt many new thing while writing this book. Tremendous efforts have gone into the development of this book and no wonder this book is so dense with ideas. I was glad to learn about the early nineties era of technology which I knew about only in fragments because I sprang up on the I.T scene only around mid 1998 after seeing a computer game called Shadow Warrior at a Friend’s house 🙂

Immediately after completing this book, I had felt that if some one in Year 3K will look back at the beginning of the Millennium and try to study the history of technology and its influence on the world, one of the books they might like to refer to will be this one. I have not read any book from this author before but after reading this one, I am convinced that I got to read his previous works as well.

P.S. If you have a flare for I.T. and Business quizzing, this can be a good book to lookup the names of major I.T. companies, their founders and CEOs.



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  • Scottie

    Watch the 13-minute overview (below).
    Just off press …
    The World is Flat?
    “Globalization is Threatening to Hollow Out America’s Middle Class,” Assert Business Analysts

    Thomas Friedman’s recent New York Times bestseller, The World is Flat, asserts that the international economic playing field is now more level than it has ever been. As popular as it may be, some reviewers assert that by what it leaves out, Friedman’s book is dangerous.

    “The world isn’t flat as a result of globalization,” say Ronald Aronica and Mtetwa Ramdoo, business analysts and authors of a critical analysis of Friedman’s book. “It’s tilted in favor of unfettered global corporations that exploit cheap labor in China, Indian and beyond. Today’s global corporations go to the ends of the earth to employ factory workers for 20 cents an hour and PhDs in science and technology for $20,000 a year,” add Aronica and Ramdoo. In short, “Globalization is the greatest reorganization of the world since the Industrial Revolution,” says Aronica.

    This epic change has shaken up the way the world does business, and Americans are reluctantly facing a shift of wealth and power to the East. Across the country, a growing number of Americans fear that they could be replaced by someone from a developing country. Recent polls indicate that millions of Americans are preoccupied with the outsourcing of American jobs and the threat of global economic competition. From boardrooms to classrooms to kitchen tables and water coolers, globalization has become a hot topic of discussion and debate everywhere. But by what Friedman’s book ignores or glosses over, it misinforms the American people and policy makers.

    Aronica and Ramdoo’s concise monograph, The World is Flat?: A Critical Analysis of Thomas L. Friedman’s New York Times Bestseller, brings clarity to many of Friedman’s stories and explores nine key issues Friedman largely disregards or treats too lightly, including the hollowing out of America’s debt-ridden middle class. To create a fair and balanced exploration of globalization, the authors cite the work of experts that Friedman fails to incorporate, including Nobel laureate and former Chief Economist at the World Bank, Dr. Joseph Stiglitz.

    Refreshingly, readers can now gain new insights into globalization without weeding through Friedman’s almost 600 pages of grandiloquent prose and bafflegab. “It’s of utmost urgency that we all learn about and prepare for total global competition. If you read Friedman’s book, and were awed, you really should read more rigorous treatments of this vital subject. Globalization affects all our lives and will be of even greater significance to our children and grandchildren,” says Ramdoo.

    Aronica and Ramdoo conclude by listing over twenty action items that point the way forward for America and other developed countries. They provide a comprehensive, yet concise, framework for understanding the critical issues of globalization. They paint a clear and sometimes alarming picture of the early twenty-first century landscape, and present timely information needed by governments, businesses, and individuals everywhere.
    Watch a thought-provoking 13 minute Overview on the Web:
    http://www.mkpress.com/FlatOverview.html

    ###

  • Scottie

    Watch the 13-minute overview (below).
    Just off press …
    The World is Flat?
    “Globalization is Threatening to Hollow Out America’s Middle Class,” Assert Business Analysts

    Thomas Friedman’s recent New York Times bestseller, The World is Flat, asserts that the international economic playing field is now more level than it has ever been. As popular as it may be, some reviewers assert that by what it leaves out, Friedman’s book is dangerous.

    “The world isn’t flat as a result of globalization,” say Ronald Aronica and Mtetwa Ramdoo, business analysts and authors of a critical analysis of Friedman’s book. “It’s tilted in favor of unfettered global corporations that exploit cheap labor in China, Indian and beyond. Today’s global corporations go to the ends of the earth to employ factory workers for 20 cents an hour and PhDs in science and technology for $20,000 a year,” add Aronica and Ramdoo. In short, “Globalization is the greatest reorganization of the world since the Industrial Revolution,” says Aronica.

    This epic change has shaken up the way the world does business, and Americans are reluctantly facing a shift of wealth and power to the East. Across the country, a growing number of Americans fear that they could be replaced by someone from a developing country. Recent polls indicate that millions of Americans are preoccupied with the outsourcing of American jobs and the threat of global economic competition. From boardrooms to classrooms to kitchen tables and water coolers, globalization has become a hot topic of discussion and debate everywhere. But by what Friedman’s book ignores or glosses over, it misinforms the American people and policy makers.

    Aronica and Ramdoo’s concise monograph, The World is Flat?: A Critical Analysis of Thomas L. Friedman’s New York Times Bestseller, brings clarity to many of Friedman’s stories and explores nine key issues Friedman largely disregards or treats too lightly, including the hollowing out of America’s debt-ridden middle class. To create a fair and balanced exploration of globalization, the authors cite the work of experts that Friedman fails to incorporate, including Nobel laureate and former Chief Economist at the World Bank, Dr. Joseph Stiglitz.

    Refreshingly, readers can now gain new insights into globalization without weeding through Friedman’s almost 600 pages of grandiloquent prose and bafflegab. “It’s of utmost urgency that we all learn about and prepare for total global competition. If you read Friedman’s book, and were awed, you really should read more rigorous treatments of this vital subject. Globalization affects all our lives and will be of even greater significance to our children and grandchildren,” says Ramdoo.

    Aronica and Ramdoo conclude by listing over twenty action items that point the way forward for America and other developed countries. They provide a comprehensive, yet concise, framework for understanding the critical issues of globalization. They paint a clear and sometimes alarming picture of the early twenty-first century landscape, and present timely information needed by governments, businesses, and individuals everywhere.
    Watch a thought-provoking 13 minute Overview on the Web:
    http://www.mkpress.com/FlatOverview.html

    ###

  • http://stubbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ stubbfanatic

    Hello Scottie. Thanks for visiting my blog. While whatever may be our view with reference to this whole flattening phenomenon, as few things linger in my mind:

    – Rate of technological progress in America has slowed down while in Asia it has gone up.

    – America needs more of its own engineers who can keep it in the Driver’s seat and fulfill mankind’s dream of human settlement on Mars and beyond.

    – Even India and China are planning manned missions to moon. Where is America’s manned mission to Mars? Why are Americans not passionate about this like they were when America put a man on Moon?

  • http://stubbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ stubbfanatic

    Hello Scottie. Thanks for visiting my blog. While whatever may be our view with reference to this whole flattening phenomenon, as few things linger in my mind:

    – Rate of technological progress in America has slowed down while in Asia it has gone up.

    – America needs more of its own engineers who can keep it in the Driver’s seat and fulfill mankind’s dream of human settlement on Mars and beyond.

    – Even India and China are planning manned missions to moon. Where is America’s manned mission to Mars? Why are Americans not passionate about this like they were when America put a man on Moon?

  • Eskimosik

    Hail

    What do you think about this? When it happens?

  • Eskimosik

    Hail

    What do you think about this? When it happens?