Review: The World Is Flat–A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (Hardcover)

4 Star, Future, History

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

4.0 out of 5 stars Massive Op-Ed, Some Food for Thought, Not a Full Meal,

April 11, 2005
Thomas L. Friedman
Edit of 20 Dec 07 to add links.

I confess to being mildly disappointed whenever I encounter a massive Op-Ed without references, and can see in every page ideas that are undoubtedly the author’s own, but have also been very ably explored by others–Kevin Kelly in Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, & the Economic World; Thomas Stewart, The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-first Century Organization; or Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, to name just three of hundreds of bleeding edge sources.

The core idea in this book, that individuals are now empowered and able to practice “C2C” (consumer to consumer or citizen to citizen), is not new. Most of us have been focusing on it since the mid-1990’s when we started to tell the Pentagon that top-down command and control based on secret sources and unilateral action was history, being replaced by multilateral bottom up consesus based on open sources.

The heart of the book, the discussion of ten forces that flattened the world (basically, inter-connected the world in a manner unlike any seen before), makes it a solid airplane book, a fine way to spend a few hours.

The following sentence, on page 283, is alone worth the price of the book: “If President Bush made energy independence his moon shot, in one fell sweeop he would dry up revenue for terrorism, force Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia onto the path of reform–which they will never do with $50-a-barrel oil–strengthen the dollar, and improve his own standing in Europe by doing something huge to reduce global warming.”

The book provides a good overview of the economic and intellectual challenges from China and India, and makes this memorable by jumping from “eat your dinner and think of the starving children in India” to “do your job well, or lose it to smarter more motivated young men and women from India.”

Other more intellectually rigorous books (added 20 Dec 07):
Modern Strategy
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America’s Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks)
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom

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