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That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back Hardcover – September 5, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (September 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374288909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374288907
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (243 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“[In That Used to Be Us there] are big truths, and the authors see them clearly and whole. As is usual in Mr. Friedman’s work the power of the core argument is buttressed by detailed reportage and blizzards of specific fact and detail, but the accumulation of anecdote and evidence never detracts from the book’s central thrust. That Used to Be Us is an important contribution to an intensifying debate, and it deserves the widest possible attention.” —Walter Russell Mead, The New York Times

“Friedman and Mandelbaum are men of the American elite, and they write to salute those members of the American elite who behave public-spiritedly and to scourge those who do not. They are winners, writing to urge other winners to have more of a care for their fellow citizens who are not winners. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that! . . . American society has had a big serving of that ugly anti-elitist spirit in the recent past. It could use more of the generous responsible spirit Friedman and Mandelbaum recommend.” —David Frum, The New York Times Book Review

“[An] important and eminently readable book…” —Stanley Hoffmann, The New York Review of Books

“This is a book of exceptional importance, written on a sweeping scale with remarkable clarity by two of our most gifted thinkers. A soon-to-be best seller, it should be read by policymakers and every American concerned about our country's future.” —Elizabeth L. Winter, Library Journal

About the Author

Thomas L. Friedman is an internationally renowned author, reporter, and columnist—the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes and the author of five bestselling books, among them From Beirut to Jerusalem and The World Is Flat.
 
He was born in Minneapolis in 1953, and grew up in the middle-class Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. He graduated from Brandeis University in 1975 with a degree in Mediterranean studies, attended St. Antony's College, Oxford, on a Marshall Scholarship, and received an M.Phil. degree in modern Middle East studies from Oxford.
 
After three years with United Press International, he joined The New York Times, where he has worked ever since as a reporter, correspondent, bureau chief, and columnist. At the Times, he has won three Pulitzer Prizes: in 1983 for international reporting (from Lebanon), in 1988 for international reporting (from Israel), and in 2002 for his columns after the September 11th attacks. 
 
Friedman’s first book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, won the National Book Award in 1989. His second book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization (1999), won the Overseas Press Club Award for best book on foreign policy in 2000. In 2002 FSG published a collection of his Pulitzer Prize-winning columns, along with a diary he kept after 9/11, as Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11. His fourth book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (2005) became a #1 New York Times bestseller and received the inaugural Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award in November 2005. A revised and expanded edition was published in hardcover in 2006 and in 2007. The World Is Flat has sold more than 4 million copies in thirty-seven languages. 
 
In 2008 he brought out Hot, Flat, and Crowded, which was published in a revised edition a year later. His sixth book, That Used to Be Us: How American Fell Behind in the World We Invented and How We Can Come Back, co-written with Michael Mandelbaum, will be published in September 2011.
 
Thomas L. Friedman lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his family.

Michael Mandelbaum is the Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. and is the director of the American Foreign Policy Program there. He has also held teaching posts at Harvard and Columbia Universities, and at the United States Naval Academy.

His most recent book, written with co-author Thomas L. Friedman, is THAT USED TO BE US: HOW AMERICA FELL BEHIND IN THE WORLD IT INVENTED AND HOW WE CAN COME BACK. Its publication date is September 5, 2011.

He serves on the board of advisors of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Washington-based organization sponsoring research and public discussion on American policy toward the Middle East.

A graduate of Yale College, Professor Mandelbaum earned his Master's degree at King's College, Cambridge University and his doctorate at Harvard University.
Professor Mandelbaum is the author or co-author of numerous articles and of 13 books: That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back (2011) with co-author Thomas L. Friedman; The Frugal Superpower: America's Global Leadership in a Cash-Strapped Era (2010); Democracy's Good Name: The Rise and Risks of the World's Most Popular Form of Government (2007); The Case For Goliath: How America Acts As The World's Government in the Twenty-first Century (2006); The Meaning of Sports: Why Americans Watch Baseball, Football and Basketball and What They See When They Do (2004); The Ideas That Conquered the World: Peace, Democracy and Free Markets in the Twenty-First Century (2002); The Dawn of Peace in Europe (1996); The Fate of Nations: The Search for National Security in the 19th and 20th Centuries (1988); The Global Rivals, (co-author, 1988); Reagan and Gorbachev (co-author, 1987); The Nuclear Future (1983); The Nuclear Revolution: International Politics Before and After Hiroshima (1981); and The Nuclear Question: The United States and Nuclear Weapons, 1946-1976 (1979). He is also the editor of twelve books.


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Customer Reviews

A very interesting, well written book.
Claude Fletcher
In short, any serious look at the analysis and "solution" proposed by this book leads mostly to frustration.
Coventina
Time will tell whether the US can get back its glory.
Justlogical

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

224 of 247 people found the following review helpful By R. Pokkyarath on September 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure whether I should purchase this one. After all, what is it about these problems that is already not widely known, what suggestions/prescriptions can the authors come up with which has not been mentioned by someone or the other. I jumped in anyway.

I don't see a Look Inside for this book; maybe, they'll add it later, but I'll add a quick summary of the book. The book is divided into 5 parts:

Part 1: The Diagnosis
Imitating the DHS's campaign message "If You See Something, Say Something", the authors say that the symptoms of America's decline is all around for us to see. He contrasts the Chinese gusto in completing a convention center in 8 months--which he visited for the WEF summer summit--to the lackadaisical attitude he sees at the Washington Metrorail; talks about his visit to the White House where a door handle came off while he was opening it, only to hear the Secret Service agent remarking, "Oh, it does that sometimes". The authors goes on to say that America as a country has failed to adjust itself to the post cold-war era and failed to address some of the biggest problems, including Education, Deficits, Energy needs and Climate Change; our ability to react and respond to challenges and opportunities has drastically come down. The worst part of this decline, according to the authors, is that it's slow in coming and hence, we fail to even recognize the existence of the problem. A depleted America will not just be bad for the Americans, but to the whole world as well because, according to the author, the US plays a constructive role in world economy and politics and that will be hard to replace.
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279 of 311 people found the following review helpful By S. A. Lee on September 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"That Used to Be Us" delves deeply into the major problems confronting America. The book is well-written and uses a journalistic style similar to other books by Friedman: it includes a lot of anecdotes and quotations. The book starts by comparing a six-month project to fix two small escalators at a New Jersey train station with an eight-month project in China that resulted in the construction of a massive and ornate convention center. That comparison underlies the book's title -- the idea that the U.S. no longer leads the world in its ability to innovate and to efficiently create new things and ideas.

The book is divided into parts that focus on the major challenges we face: (1) Educating our workforce in an age where globalization and information technology have merged into a force that is disrupting job markets. (2) Overcoming the "War on Math," which has led us to recklessly cut taxes and ignore the impact of deficits and the growing dept burden, and the "War on Physics" which has led to rampant denial of the realities of climate change science and energy policy. (3) Political failure, driven by gridlock and the overwhelming influence of money in politics, and our failure invest in basic scientific research, critical infrastructure and to implement and maintain rational regulation of markets.

The part of the book that will perhaps be of particular interest to many readers is the discussion of how technology and globalization are impacting jobs and careers. The job market has been "polarized" so that routine, middle skill jobs have been eliminated, leaving only high skill jobs requiring lots of education and lots lower wage jobs that so far cannot be automated or offshored.
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552 of 679 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on September 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Friedman is one of my favorite columnists, and I looked forward to 'That Used to be Us' because it addresses America's #1 problem - our sagging economy. However, Friedman and co-author Mandelbaum's analysis of the causes and cures for our economic malaise is confused and often erroneous.

The book begins with Friedman comparing two projects - the six months required to repair two D.C. Metro escalators with 21 steps each near his Bethesda home, and China's building its new Meijiang Convention Center (2.5 million square feet, with gigantic escalators) in eight months. The comparison symbolizes how China's economic dynamism makes 21st-century America seem sickly and inept. Unfortunately, the authors attribute our current state of affairs to a loss of intensity and purpose after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Reality, however, is that our relative decline vs. China began with Premier Deng Xiaoping's 'socialism with Chinese characteristics' in 1979, and intensified after 9/11 as the U.S. became preoccupied with terrorism and paralyzed by increasingly partisan politics, while the Chinese began moving, largely unnoticed, up the economic value chain.

Continuing, the authors contend that America faces three other major challenges - the IT revolution, our chronic and growing deficits, and our world-leading energy consumption. The 'solution' - reviving the values, priorities, and practices that we have used to succeed in the past. The remainder of the book consists of underlying details and their blueprint for doing so.

Globalization (and the hollowing out and weakening of the American economy) was largely initiated by American firms transferring American technologies and management skills while seeking lower-cost production.
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