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The Lexus and the Olive Tree Paperback – 17 Apr 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (17 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006551394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006551393
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 4.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 573,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

One day in 1992, Thomas Friedman toured a Lexus factory in Japan and marvelled at the robots that put the luxury cars together. That evening, as he ate sushi on a Japanese bullet train, he read a story about yet another Middle East squabble between Palestinians and Israelis. And it hit him: half the world was lusting after those Lexuses, or at least the brilliant technology that made them possible, and the other half was fighting over who owned which olive tree.

Friedman, the well-travelled New York Times foreign-affairs columnist, peppers The Lexus and the Olive Tree with stories that illustrate his central theme: that globalisation--the Lexus--is the central organising principle of the post-cold war world, even though many individuals and nations resist by holding onto what has traditionally mattered to them--the olive tree. Problem is, few of us understand what exactly globalisation means. As Friedman sees it, the concept, at first glance, is all about American hegemony. But the reality, thank goodness, is far more complex than that, involving international relations, global markets and the rise of the power of individuals (Bill Gates, Osama Bin Laden) relative to the power of nations.

No one knows how all this will shake out, but The Lexus and the Olive Tree is as good an overview of this sometimes brave, sometimes fearful new world as you'll find. --Lou Schuler


‘Friedman provides an excellent bird’s-eye view of globalization’
Financial Times

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 27 Jan. 2003
Format: Paperback
Light reading, but ultimately anecdotal and written from one of the winners in a system creating many more realtive, if not absolute losers. Friedman is a bourgeois journalist writing up his day in the jetset, thats about it.
Worth reading along with Klein's No Logo since they are both emotive and polemical, choose a side, but if you want to even begin to understand Klein or Friedman are only starting points on a long journey.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 23 Jan. 2006
Format: Paperback
Those fearing this book is a treatise in economics, take heart. Lexus isn't about numbers or the arcane world of international banking - it's about attitude. If your attitude is open to global thinking, untrammelled by tradition or restrictive cultural ideas, you will surely succeed in improving your lifestyle. If you hold too tightly to traditional ideals, you will just as surely fail. Either way, you'd best buy, read, and understand this book. Friedman's analysis conveys the thinking of too many people. You cannot afford to ignore it.
With evangelical fervour, Friedman explains how the end of the Cold War unleashed American capitalism around the globe. While "free market" capitalism had been a weapon in those years of missile diplomacy, the breakup of the Soviet Union left the American economic model without a major opponent. The collapse of the Berlin Wall, coinciding with the rise of the high speed digital communications, led to a new era of global finance. Once, "the sun never set on the British Empire." Now the Internet allows investment activity continuously and without hindrance. The market is never closed as international financial transactions occur constantly, and at light speed. And the market is open to anyone wishing to participate. Anyone possessing the resources, that is.
Friedman argues that the American model of capitalism is the ideal version. Government must play a minimal role. "No one is in charge" simply means no overseer to represent the community's interests. Labour unions are to be quelled. No favours are to be shown to any not meeting the new performance standards. The "wounded" firm must be killed off to allow the successful to continue.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback
Friedmann sets out to portray the new world system of globalization, which he sees as replacing that of the Cold War. While he puts forward some interesting ideas about the change, too often does he take anecdotal evidence to be sufficient to prove his case. This is in keeping with the style of the book, which is very much geared towards a popular audience, with an insistence upon pointless metaphors for economic agents and actions (eg. "Electronic herd" and "long-horn cattle") for some of the most basic ideas. The overall effect of this to give the impression that Friedmann sees the readder as being incapable to understand the system without this inane dumbing down which while, at first amusing quickly becomes irritating as it is continued throughout the book.
In summation then, if you are looking for a readable and entertaining guide to the world today this is worth buying, as it is undenaibly well written, but it is more a collection of stories about a journalist's travels, than a rigourous explanation for the current global paradigm it claims to be.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By west_35th on 21 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Friedman succeeds in explainings the whys and the hows of today's complex interaction of financial, political, technological and scientific values. this book is a must read for all those who feel unconfortable with the "no-global" thesis but search for words. Unfortunately I have to notice two let downs. Mr Friedman's vision of the world is surprising america-centric for a man who has travelled so much. Yet again here we find a Yank who feels he has the right to put his model on top of all others and judge the rest of the world. Well, he's right on most of his conclusions but we'd all rather like it to be expressed with more care. Clearly the book has been written with american readers in mind and provides them with the ever needed holliwood-style pat on the back. The second really unfortunate thing is that the Anchor edition paperback has litterally fallen into pieces by page 100 and I have had to keep track of all the loose pages for the duration of the book. Pity.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By DAVID-LEONARD WILLIS on 16 Jan. 2004
Format: Paperback
Globalization is a new international system with its own rules of logic, pressures and incentives that influence politics, environment, business, and economics in virtually every country; it is the dominant world system that shapes everything else. The new rules are so different from what has gone before and the different threads are intertwined in such a complicated manner that few understand them. Who would have thought that the 1997 collapse of the Thai currency would ultimately lead to the collapse of Long-term Capital Management in the US where two economists had won the Nobel Prize the previous year for their contribution to managing risk? The global market place has become an electronic herd of anonymous traders and investors connected by screens and networks; a herd that knows only its own rules and that will crush any one - and even governments - that stand in its way. Globalization is not a choice but a reality, but the problem is that no one is in charge.
Globalization is not new. Round I of globalization took place before World War I and was founded on cheap transportation. There was a period of relative calm until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism triggered Round II which is founded on cheap telecommunications. We can now reach further, faster, cheaper and deeper than ever before. Previously non-tradable services such as accounting, telephone answering and engineering design can now be transferred to low wage countries; production, research and marketing can be located where strategically most advantageous. The Berlin Wall did not just fall in Berlin; other walls came down in other countries at roughly the same time. Three changes caused the walls to fall - how we communicate, how we invest and how we learn.
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