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Open World: The Truth About Globalization Hardcover – December 16, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Globalization is not some faceless bogeyman bent on destroying democracy and controlling the world, argues Legrain. That misunderstanding, he says, arises from the bad rap it gets from opponents of its current manifestation, like Naomi Klein, or even from proponents like Thomas Friedman, who characterizes globalization as inevitable. In fact, says Legrain, who is "chief economist of Britain in Europe" and a former trade correspondent with the Economist, globalization is "a political choice," and generally a beneficial one. Focusing his analysis on the historical benefits of international trade, Legrain readily criticizes what he sees as globalization's primary flaws. International patent law and financial markets each receive a scathing rebuke for the (sometimes lethal) harm they wreak on the developing world. Nevertheless, "No country has escaped poverty without trading with the rest of the world," and Legrain spends much of the book refuting depictions of globalism as a "race to the bottom," loading the book with examples of globalization's positive effects on global labor and environmental standards and its role as a lubricant for democracy. He is less persuasive and less rigorous when downplaying America's predominance in the global culture, and he too often deals with popular culture and European examples, such as fashion or opera, paying little or no attention to smaller, local cultures in developing countries. Likewise, his glib assertion that the most dominant mass media companies are a global hodgepodge, rather than rigorously calibrated and competitive organizations centered on profit, is unlikely to assuage the fears of their many opponents. Legrain's attempts at reconciling opposing arguments might not render the "truth," but they paradoxically mirror adjustments that have recently been made by activists, who have moved from "antiglobalization" actions to demands for "global justice."
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From Booklist

This book offers what might be called the sweetness-and-light view of globalization, written by a former correspondent for The Economist. The author has no time for the protestors who congregate at every summit meeting of the World Trade Organization, stating that they have misrepresented the idea and practice of globalization. Those who clamor that globalization is a stealthy euphemism for global Americanization, along with corporate domination, come in for the bulk of Legrain's wrath. Rather, he argues that globalization has created a polemical paradox--while the world community fears Americanization of their cultures, Americans are suspicious that a global perspective will result in the loss of jobs, freedom, and their way of life. Arguing that the "Kathy Gifford" syndrome actually results in a win-win situation (Americans get cheaper shoes, say, while poor workers in poor countries get jobs that improve their lot), he perhaps misses the point that although workers make those shoes for 25 cents an hour, Americans still have to pay $100 for them. Nevertheless, a well-argued book that should serve as balance to current negative accounts. Allen Weakland
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee (December 16, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566635470
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566635479
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,468,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jack Smith on February 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Open World is a really original book. Based on his experience as a journalist for The Economist, as well as from his time working for the WTO and travelling the world, Philippe Legrain argues that anti-globalizers like Naomi Klein, Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan have got it all wrong. But he also points out flaws in the arguments of defenders of globalization like Thomas Friedman. Globalization is a good thing, he says, but we can make it even better if only we stop believing that we have lost control over our lives to corporations and markets. He believes in free trade, but also has a social conscience. He argues that globalization enriches us culturally as well as economically, but recognizes that some people lose out from it. That is why governments need to act to build a better globalization. It's a really convincing and well-written book. Even if you don't end up agreeing with all of it, it is definitely worth reading.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In Open World, Phillippe Legrain (former economics correspondent for the Economist Legrain) maintains that the idea of globalization has been misrepresented - and that it is neither a label for the Americanization of the world, nor a field day for corporations who would dominate world economic systems. So, what is real globalization? Legrain does a very fine job of considering and articulating how world interactions are changing - and in many ways -- for the better.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ryan on June 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up because I was interested in learning something about globalization. I'm tired of hearing the same arguments from anti-globalization fanatics, and Legrain's commentary on the issue is crystal clear.
He often begins each chapter with a blurb from a prominent globalization opponent, such as Naomi Klein, and then goes on to refute it. Legrain makes his case crystal clear and uses plenty of solid evidence to back up what he says. Although he does not think globalization is the best thing to happen to humanity, he does believe it benefits us more than we think.
This book is written from a European perspective, so there is a lot of attention given to preserving the "welfare state" for the needy. If you can get past that, you'll love the book.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Isabella Chen on May 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I needed to write a whole paper overnight on globalization and the environment and just picked this book up at the store the day before. It's very readable, with ideas that are easily accessible; most of which are thoughts that probably have had crossed your mind before; you just needed someone to logically link them all together and prove them for you.
makes for very compulsive reading.
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