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The Lexus and the Olive Tree [Paperback]

Thomas L. Friedman
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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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, about Disneyfication of all corners of the earth. 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, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


From the reviews of From Beirut to Jerusalem:

‘Jubilantly intelligent – a dashing hybrid of autobiography and journalism. Friedman’s book is a lifeline to the sane, a beacon to the hopeful.’

‘Friedman’s approach is both original and thought-provoking… a striking achievement.’
ANDREW GOWERS, Financial Times

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Globalization is the single most powerful force at work in the world today. Whoever we are, wherever we live, there is no escaping its profound effects.

It takes diverse and sometimes bizarre forms , from a shopper in Hong Kong trying to choose between a Michael Jordan baseball cap and one emblazoned with the Red Flag of Communist China, to the downfall of Barings Bank, where a British derivatives trader, based in Singapore, speculating in Japanese paper, destroyed an old English bank, which was then acquired by ING, a Dutch bank, with the help of American bankers.

One half of the world has embraced this new world order and is intent on building a better Lexus, modernizing and streamlining societies for the global economy, while the other half is locked into bitter struggle over the primordial elements of human existence: families, tribe religion and community – the olive tree. Countries where an industrial, multinationally owned future is obliterating the past – Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, Argentina – exist side by side with those where old hatreds are rising up to destroy the future, as in Rwanda and Afghanistan.

As national barriers are ripped down by the forces of free market capitalism, and the world moves seemingly irresistibly towards a global homogeneity, there is a renewed yearning to resist that monoculture and to create borders based on personal history, religion, nationalism and culture.

The conflict between the Lexus and the olive tree, between globalization and the powerful, often violent forces of local identity, and the need to find a balance between the two, is the defining theme of this provocative and challenging book.


“Jubilantly intelligent – a dashing hybrid of autobiography and journalism. Friedman’s book is a lifeline to the sane, a beacon to the hopeful.”
MICHAEL COREN, 'Sunday Times '

“Friedman fills the yawning gap between verbiage and understanding with grace, precision and insight.”

“Friedman’s approach is both original and thought-provoking. His analysis of the changing shape of relations between Israel and the American Jewish community is masterful … a striking achievement .”
ANDREW GOWERS, 'Financial Times'

“ A sparkling intellectual guidebook … an engrossing journey not to be missed.”

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

THOMAS FRIEDMAN was born in Minneapolis in 1943. He completed his post-graduate Middle-Eastern Studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford, before becoming a journalist. From 1979 to 1981, he was UPI’s Beirut correspondent. In 1982, he became the New York Times’ Beirut bureau chief, moving south to Jerusalem in 1984 to become bureau chief there. In January 1989, he became the New York Times’ chief diplomatic correspondent in Washington, where he now lives with his wife and two daughters. Friedman has twice won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from the Middle East.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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