The World Is Flat [Updated and Expanded]: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

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9780374292799: The World Is Flat [Updated and Expanded]: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

The World Is Flat is Thomas L. Friedman's account of the great changes taking place in our time, as lightning-swift advances in technology and communications put people all over the globe in touch as never before--creating an explosion of wealth in India and China, and challenging the rest of us to run even faster just to stay in place. This updated and expanded edition features more than a hundred pages of fresh reporting and commentary, drawn from Friedman's travels around the world and across the American heartland--from anyplace where the flattening of the world is being felt.
In The World Is Flat, Friedman at once shows "how and why globalization has now shifted into warp drive" (Robert Wright, Slate) and brilliantly demystifies the new flat world for readers, allowing them to make sense of the often bewildering scene unfolding before their eyes. With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, he explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the twenty-first century; what it means to countries, companies, communities, and individuals; how governments and societies can, and must, adapt; and why terrorists want to stand in the way. More than ever, The World Is Flat is an essential update on globalization, its successes and discontents, powerfully illuminated by one of our most respected journalists.

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Review:

Updated Edition: Thomas L. Friedman is not so much a futurist, which he is sometimes called, as a presentist. His aim in The World Is Flat, as in his earlier, influential Lexus and the Olive Tree, is not to give you a speculative preview of the wonders that are sure to come in your lifetime, but rather to get you caught up on the wonders that are already here. The world isn't going to be flat, it is flat, which gives Friedman's breathless narrative much of its urgency, and which also saves it from the Epcot-style polyester sheen that futurists--the optimistic ones at least--are inevitably prey to.

What Friedman means by "flat" is "connected": the lowering of trade and political barriers and the exponential technical advances of the digital revolution that have made it possible to do business, or almost anything else, instantaneously with billions of other people across the planet. This in itself should not be news to anyone. But the news that Friedman has to deliver is that just when we stopped paying attention to these developments--when the dot-com bust turned interest away from the business and technology pages and when 9/11 and the Iraq War turned all eyes toward the Middle East--is when they actually began to accelerate. Globalization 3.0, as he calls it, is driven not by major corporations or giant trade organizations like the World Bank, but by individuals: desktop freelancers and innovative startups all over the world (but especially in India and China) who can compete--and win--not just for low-wage manufacturing and information labor but, increasingly, for the highest-end research and design work as well. (He doesn't forget the "mutant supply chains" like Al-Qaeda that let the small act big in more destructive ways.)

Friedman has embraced this flat world in his own work, continuing to report on his story after his book's release and releasing an unprecedented hardcover update of the book a year later with 100 pages of revised and expanded material. What's changed in a year? Some of the sections that opened eyes in the first edition--on China and India, for example, and the global supply chain--are largely unaltered. Instead, Friedman has more to say about what he now calls "uploading," the direct-from-the-bottom creation of culture, knowledge, and innovation through blogging, podcasts, and open-source software. And in response to the pleas of many of his readers about how to survive the new flat world, he makes specific recommendations about the technical and creative training he thinks will be required to compete in the "New Middle" class. As before, Friedman tells his story with the catchy slogans and globe-hopping anecdotes that readers of his earlier books and his New York Times columns know well, and he holds to a stern sort of optimism. He wants to tell you how exciting this new world is, but he also wants you to know you're going to be trampled if you don't keep up with it. A year later, one can sense his rising impatience that our popular culture, and our political leaders, are not helping us keep pace. --Tom Nissley

Where Were You When the World Went Flat?

Thomas L. Friedman's reporter's curiosity and his ability to recognize the patterns behind the most complex global developments have made him one of the most entertaining and authoritative sources for information about the wider world we live in, both as the foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times and as the author of landmark books like From Beirut to Jerusalem and The Lexus and the Olive Tree. They also make him an endlessly fascinating conversation partner, and we've now had the chance to talk to him about The World Is Flat twice. Read our original interview with him following the publication of the first edition of The World Is Flat to learn why there's almost no one from Washington, D.C., listed in the index of a book about the global economy, and what his one-plank platform for president would be. (Hint: his bumper stickers would say, "Can You Hear Me Now?")

And now you can listen to our second interview, in which he talks about the updates he's made in "The World Is Flat 2.0," including his response to parents who said to him, "Great, Mr. Friedman, I'm glad you told us the world is flat. Now what do I tell my kids?"

The Essential Tom Friedman


From Beirut to Jerusalem

The Lexus and the Olive Tree

Longitudes and Attitudes
More on Globalization and Development


China, Inc. by Ted Fishman

Three Billion New Capitalists by Clyde Prestowitz

The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs

Globalization and Its Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz

The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli

The Mystery of Capital by Hernando de Soto

From the Back Cover:

"One mark of a great book is that it makes you see things in a new way, and Mr. Friedman certainly succeeds in that goal," the Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote in The New York Times, reviewing The World Is Flat in 2005. For this updated and expanded edition, Friedman has seen his own book in a new way, bringing fresh stories and insights to help us understand the flattening of the world. New material includes:

· The reasons why the flattening of the world "will be seen in time as one of those fundamental shifts or inflection points, like Gutenberg's invention of the printing press, the rise of the nation-state, or the Industrial Revolution"

· An explanation of "uploading" as one of the ten forces that are flattening the world, as blogging, open-source software, pooled knowledge projects like Wikipedia, and podcasting enable individuals to bring their experiences and opinions to the whole world

· A mapping of the New Middle--the places and spaces in the flat world where
middle-class jobs will be found--and portraits of the character types who will find success as New Middlers

·An account of the qualities American parents and teachers need to cultivate in young people so that they will be able to thrive in the flat world

·A call for a government-led "geo-green" strategy to preserve the environment and natural resources

·An account of the "globalization of the local": how the flattening of the world is actually strengthening local and regional identities rather than homogenizing the world

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