A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalization

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9780812930962: A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalization
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A Future Perfect is the first comprehensive examination of the most important revolution of our time--globalization--and how it will continue to change our lives. The authors, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, correspondents for The Economist, won the Financial Times/Booz Allen Hamilton Global Business Book Award on Strategy and Leadership for their previous collaboration, The Witch Doctors. In A Future Perfect, Micklethwait and Wooldridge expand their field of vision in order to analyze, demystify, and expose the global forces reshaping our world, and they detail both the challenge and the hidden promise those forces hold for individuals, businesses, and governments.

Do businesses benefit from going global? Are we creating winner-take-all societies? Will globalization seal the triumph of junk culture? What will happen to individual careers? Gathering evidence from the shantytowns of São Paolo to the boardroom of General Electric, from the troubled Russia-Estonia border to the booming San Fernando Valley sex industry, Micklethwait and Wooldridge mount a powerful, witty, levelheaded defense of globalization.

Along the way, the authors introduce us to the cosmocrats--the members of the elite business, information, and diplomatic class who are creating the new world order. They also identify the three engines of globalization and describe how people are managing and governing in an increasingly global era. As they did in The Witch Doctors, the authors also brilliantly puncture myths and conventional wisdom, separating false hopes from emerging realities.

Incisive, expansive, and optimistic, A Future Perfect is an illuminating tour of the global economy and a fascinating assessment of its potential impact.

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Review:

Globalization is the single most important force in the world today, write journalists John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, both of The Economist (and coauthors of The Witch Doctors):

The integration of the world economy is not only reshaping business but also reordering the lives of individuals, creating new social classes, different jobs, unimaginable wealth, and, occasionally, wretched poverty. From Washington to Beijing, politicians are increasingly defined in terms of their attitudes toward globalization. The key political arguments of the next few years--between Islam and the West, Euroskeptics and Europhiles, the new left and the old--will all be variations arising from one underlying conflict: the one between globalizers who want to see the world reshaped in their own image and traditionalists who want to preserve fragments of traditional culture and local independence.

Micklethwait and Wooldridge are advocates of the former, not the latter. In A Future Perfect--a rich synthesis of anecdote, analysis, and argument--they make a strong case both for globalization's economic benefits and its classically liberal underpinnings. They acknowledge frustration with public debates over globalization that "always seem to involve a shuttered textile factory in South Carolina, never a young African child sitting at a computer; always a burning Amazonian forest, never a young Brazilian investment banker; always The Lion King or the Spice Girls, never the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao." A Future Perfect relentlessly reports the upside of globalization--the book is full of stories--and makes the vital point that more than economics is at stake. At bottom, write Micklethwait and Wooldridge, the issue is freedom. They bemoan "restrictions on where people can go, what they can buy, where they can invest, and what they can read, hear, or see. Globalization by its nature brings down these barriers, and it helps to hand the power to choose to the individual." Like a good article in The Economist, A Future Perfect is well written and concise. It also renders complicated subjects understandable, and has the welcome effect of making readers feel smarter for having cracked its spine. Much has been written about globalization; this book may be the best of the bunch thus far. --John J. Miller

About the Author:

John Micklethwait oversees coverage of the United States for The Economist, where he was previously New York bureau chief and business editor. He has won a Wincott Award for financial journalism. He has appeared on NPR and the BBC and written for the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and The New York Times.

Adrian Wooldridge is a Washington correspondent for The Economist and was its West Coast bureau chief, based in Los Angeles. He is the author of Measuring the Mind: Education and Psychology in England, 1860-1990. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, and The Times of London, and has appeared on NPR and the BBC.

The authors can be reached online via www.afutureperfect.com; www.johnmicklethwait.com; and www.adrianwooldridge.com.

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