The World is Flat: The Globalized World in the Twenty-first Century Paperback – 5 Jul 2007
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About the Author
Thomas Friedman has won the Pulitzer Prize three times for his work at The New York Times. He is the author of two best-selling books, From Beirut to Jerusalem, and The Lexus and the Olive Tree.
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Top customer reviews
Yes, it is verbose and brimming with personal anecdotes sometimes masquerading as hard data. But it still presents the enormous revolution -- a series of extraordinary events that have converged -- that is so overwhelming and rapid that most of us simply have not had time to even begin to process what is happening to us. You may not agree with everything he says -- including the solutions he suggests -- but this book is well worth reading. You don't have to agree with everything he says, and it is superficial in parts. Nevertheless I am certain that Americans and Western Europeans would be challenged by this book.
As a Career Counselor, I think there is much food for thought about the world of work and skills needed in tomorrow's marketplace ... which will be here much sooner than we think.
Freidman makes a bold claim. Around 2000 a triple convergeance occurred which created a new historical era. Ten flatteners (i.e. changes) created a new, flatter, global playing field. Businesses and individuals (especially would-be zippies from India, China and the former Soviet Union) began to move from vertical to horizontal ways of creating value (i.e. doing business). People suddenly gained access to the flat world platform. Walls, ceiling and floors blew away. Out went command and control. In came connect and collaborate. Noone knows anymore who is exploiting who. Our jobs are being digitalized, automated and outsourced. To survive as a new untouchable middler you'd better become a great orchestrator, synthesizer, explainer, leverager, adapter, or a passionate personaliser. Failing that, just be brilliant, like Madonna or a cancer specialist. Failing that, just be well anchored, like a dustman.
Ok, I parody rather than paraphrase. Readable it always isn't. But that's got most of the bad stuff out of the way. Not all the quotes are bad: "It is a difference of degree so great - of low-cost interconnectivity, of individual empowerment, of global newworks for collaboration - that it is a difference in kind." This it least a bold and stimulating claim which is worthy of examination.
Freidman's central case is that in the first great age of globalisation, it was countries/ governments who first began to establish global collaborative links. Then it was companies. Now it's individuals. To put it another way, we've gone from hunting, to agriculture, to manufacturing industry, to services, to services delivered globally. To put it really badly, in a phrase that irritatingly won't leave my head, the Berlin Wall has become the Berlin Mall.
But aside from the central thesis there are some illuminating passages. Friedman gave me a lot of insight into terrorists. Typically, they are young, male, well-educated but also alienated by impersonal global economic changes and forces which affront their personal and cultural dignity and threaten their identity. Freidman calls them "neo-Leninists" and compares them with their 19th century European counterparts, the violent liberal, Marxist or anarchist revolutionaries, educated, middle class but displaced by industrialisation. This is a real historical insight. Also useful is the account of how terrorists utilise the new global platform. Bin Laden and friends used the internet to create their sinister and deadly "airline." The e bay praise points system is also interestingly analysed, as is the history of the anti-globalisation movement.
Freidman is not as naive about the new globalisation as some reviewers claim. He sees the dangers, of which the "Virtual Caliphate" is only one. But globalisation needn't mean Americanisation. It needn't destroy cultural identities because crucially, he argues, we can upload as well as download. The local can go global. We can all be players.
In what should be read as the companion volume, Evelyn Waugh's satire on journalism, "Scoop" (1939), inept foreign correspondents communicate from Africa to home via hilariously garbled telegrams. More global communication is probably not an unqualified good. But how great is the opposite?
But has the new connectivity really created Freidman's new global historical era? Waugh warns "of the innuendo and intricate misrepresentations, the luscious, detailed inventions that composed contemporary history", not to mention "the positive, daring lies that got a chap a rise of screw." Maybe the world isn't flat. But read this book anyway to learn more about what's been happening globally in the past five minutes. Which is quite a lot. Please excuse me now, time to upload.
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Most recent customer reviews
Quite a few clichés.Read more
Nice and easy book for everybody.
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