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31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rounding Out Your Right-Brain in a Flattening World
Our world has come a long way, not just since the proverbial "beginning of time," but in the last 20, 10, 5 and even 3 years since this book was first published. In "The World is Flat," Thomas Friedman very consciensiously and enthusiastically paints a picture of the detailed landscape of the current world through the eyes of business, technology, cultural and social...
Published on March 3, 2008 by A Reader

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84 of 94 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This book will make you think about today's most important topic
No doubt, Friedman will get you thinking.

You may end up thinking Friedman has really informed you on what this grand notion of "globalization" is all about. His book has reached millions, including leaders in business government and education, many who now feel fully informed on the subject.

But, just stop to consider his "base assumptions," the 10...
Published on September 12, 2007 by A Reader from Chicago


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84 of 94 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This book will make you think about today's most important topic, September 12, 2007
This review is from: The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (Paperback)
No doubt, Friedman will get you thinking.

You may end up thinking Friedman has really informed you on what this grand notion of "globalization" is all about. His book has reached millions, including leaders in business government and education, many who now feel fully informed on the subject.

But, just stop to consider his "base assumptions," the 10 so-called flatteners. Most aren't new at all and some fundamental flatteners such as containerized shipping aren't mentioned at all (see The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger). (nevermind the consequences when the end of cheap eneregy flattens the global logistics routes)

So, go ahead and read this book, but when you are finished, and especially if you are awed, I'd suggest you consider reading Aronica and Ramdoo's critical analysis of Friedman's book. It just could make you "think again," even about those so-called 10 flatteners.

The World Is Flat?: A Critical Analysis of New York Times Bestseller by Thomas Friedman

Aronica and Ramdoo will also point you to the true thought leaders on globalization, and summarize their take on Friedman's book: Stiglitz (Nobel Prize in economics), Baghwati(Columbia Professor), Prestowitz (Presidential Trade Advisor), Lemer (UCLA Professor), Ghemawat (Harvard Professor), Roach (Chief Economist at Morgan Stanley), Palast (Investigative Reporter, UK)and others.

So, thank Friedman for an entertaining read, and using his status as a celebrity pundit for making us all aware of the great reorganization the world is going through. But, please don't stop there, for there is far more to the unfolding story of globalization, and all of us are being affected.
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81 of 91 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Long winded, very very long winded, October 21, 2008
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This review is from: The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (Paperback)
I am surprised by how many reviewers described this book as "well written." I found it extremely wordy. The content to word ratio here is extremely low. The ideas in this book could have (and should have) been expressed in 150 pages or less. Instead Friedman drones on for close to 600 pages. The extreme length would have been justified if the book had gone into detail about certain topics or provided more rigorous analysis of different points of view. Instead its 600 pages of high level fluff. Does anyone really need a 600 page tome to tell them we are doing a lot of business with India? Is making a point concisely a lost art? Was Friedman paid by the word? Can I find an Indian gentleman to write me an executive summary of this leviathan?
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64 of 72 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, April 1, 2011
This review is from: The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (Paperback)
I picked up this book without reading any reviews on it hoping that I would get a neutral view and take on the phenomena of globalization. Now I wish I hadn't and I really wish Thomas Friedman hadn't "expanded and updated" the book - twice.

As I wanted to read a neutral book, I will give as neutral a review as possible.

His writing is engrossing, no doubt, and he makes very solid (while very obvious) points about what, who, and how globalization came to be and continues to advance. Within the first 300 pages or so, I really didn't take away anything new except a few of his personal delightful stories to use as examples of his points.

And then . . . came in the non-neutrality. He began making statements about Bush and other things that just leave a bad taste your mouth. Within the rest of the context of the book it seemed like he really didn't have to go into political scuttlebut. Typically it seems journalists have more credibility when they do not do as he did. Also, he points out some examples of (obvious) problems, but lots of his suggested solutions seem unrealistic; which is probably why I have still yet to see any of them come to be used. Some suggestions and prose were good, but the bad outweighed them.

Many times I found myself reading the same points over and over again in the same section. It seemed to me that he would grind many of them in so much and really drag on many of the chapters or sections that did not need to be as long to get the point across. An example of this (and I don't have the book right in front of me to point out the page numbers) is when he even uses the same word over 12 times in 2 1/2 pages to describe something. Not very flattering and it made the sentence structure hard to follow through.

At one point he uses Ireland as an example of the best country in a "reform retail" (a stage of economy used to boost economies in globalization) continuously refering to Ireland's economic stature to prove this. His 3.0 version was published in 2007. Ireland declared bankputcy in 2008 and was bailed out by the EU and IMF by 2010. I thought to myself "Really? You used Ireland as a prime example of what to do in a globalizing economy? If anything you should republish your book 4.0 and ommit a good portion of it." I was so profoundly moved by this rediculousness that I sent an email to him through the New York Times asking him his take on Irelands situation now . . . I have yet to receive a response.

Overall, his personal accounts about globalization are entertaining in a fun-fact sort of way, but his old news, horrid latter half of the book, and failure to really tie certain factors of globalization together overtake the rest of what he writes. Again, I think it would have been better off without the "3.0 expanded and updated" and he really should have left out obvious political innuendo.
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67 of 77 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Friedman missed the key point, October 1, 2007
This review is from: The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (Paperback)
Friedman relies on personal anecdotes to generalize about a complex topic. His anecdotes are heavily biased, since he hangs around with captains of industry, who are big beneficiaries of laissez-faire globalization. He even justifies his approach with this quote: "One example is worth a thousand theories." Well, this topic is much too complex for such an approach. He is an entertaining (if very repetitive and self-absorbed) raconteur, but he misses the forest by spending over 600 pages congratulating himself for climbing a few low-hanging branches in the most obvious trees.

It is a mark of Friedman's approach and personality that he dates the beginning of "Flat World" phenomena to a few years ago, when he discovered them. He seems blissfully unaware of the long history of globalization. A few examples: 200 years ago, before refrigeration, North American entrepreneurs destroyed the English trade in domestic ice by building insulated ships and shipping New England ice to London (and even Calcutta); cheap water power and cotton in the US destroyed the British weaving trades 50 years later; 500 years ago, the takeover of Peruvian silver mines by Spanish entrepreneurs bankrupted silver production in Spain; there are countless examples of the effects of globalization from the Roman Empire's rise and fall as well (well-managed during the rise, disastrously so during the fall). Friedman's "born yesterday" myopia on this topic, and on the lessons of history, is puzzling.

Friedman glances by what is, in my mind, the central issue (e.g. the one that has the biggest impact on people): the different ways governments act and respond. He admits no expertise in economics, yet declares himself to be a Ricardian (without reflecting on the irony of a self-styled futurist relying on 200-year-old economic theory), and moves on. The rest of us, however, can learn a lot by looking at the differences and subtleties (or lack thereof) of governmental policies, a topic which is completely absent from Friedman's book. Asian countries, and to a lesser extent Western European countries, have created a regulatory environment that promotes a productive response in their own countries. Some examples:

If GM wants to sell cars in China or Europe, it is obligated to build a factory there, and transfer some of its technology to local partners. Intel has just announced that its next processor fab will be built in China; the economics of IC manufacturing is something I know quite a lot about, and labor costs are a negligible factor. Intel was forced to do this by Chinese economic policy, not by cheap Chinese labor. Ditto putting a previous Intel chip plant in Ireland when Intel started selling in volume in Europe. On the other hand, our own government has been a willing partner in the evisceration of American industrial and high-tech production. The governments of Asian and European countries shake their heads at our short-sightedness and short-term consumption greed.

I credit Friedman with making more people aware of this important topic. That earns him one star!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Redundant much?, January 25, 2009
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While Friedman offers an interesting timeline of technological history. He is beyond redundant in his writing. I wish I had kept count of how many times he wrote, "the world is flattening" or "the playing field is being leveled." Thank you I got the point the first 37 times. Essentially, if he had condensed the book and stopped repeating himself, it would have made for a much more interesting read. Also, I find that the book was written for those who did not grow up during the 90s, as most of what he writes about is common knowledge for those in their 20s and 30s.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terribly overrated, February 23, 2011
This review is from: The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (Paperback)
I have lost count of how many times professors at my university recommended I read this book. Everyone I had spoken to who'd read it marveled at how enlightening it was.
I have to disagree. Although there were interesting concepts illuminated in this book, whenever Friedman would explore a concept I was familiar with, he would do so with incredible oversimplification and sometimes even gross inaccuracy. Others have described this book as well-written. While Friedman seems to be a competent writer, he also seems to use derivatives of the word "flat" as many times as he can find excuse for. He may have been trying to coin a new catch phrase of some sort but ultimately it was very frustrating that you cannot read four lines with the word, "flat", "flatten", "flattener" (not a real word?), or "flattening".
Skim this book to find interesting topics, read other books for actual information.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring text, January 11, 2009
This review is from: The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (Paperback)
This book is something:
1. as if the reader has to spend 5 minutes to understand why 1 + 2 = 3.
2: as if the reader has a short term memory so that the author has to repeat, repeat, and repeat.
3: as if the "flat" is so cute that the author can not help admiring it 10 times in every page.
4: as if you don't know what is the Internet.
5: as if you have not read anything in the past 10 years.
6: as if the world consists of only CEOs.
7: as if you have to read it !!!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, June 8, 2010
Several years ago after hearing praise heaped upon Mr. Friedman's work The World is Flat I purchased it and waded through the first hundred pages or so with increasing impatience as I awaited all the earth shattering insights that were said to await me. Well after reading the book I felt more along the lines of having purchased something from someone who demonstrated their firm grasp on the obvious. There are no earth shattering insights here. For anyone living, working or traveling in today's online, e-commerce, outsourced, off-shored world over the last 10-15 years you already know everything that Mr. Friedman seems to be so taken with. I kept asking myself why this all seemed to surprising to Mr. Friedman?

Apparently Mr. Friedman's book is marketed to those who do not get out much. I notice a lot of reviews suggest that the book is "well written". I have no objection to the writing but it did not strike me as being anything more then average. If a sense of "gee isn't all this stuff neat" equates to being well written then Mr. Friedman can consider mission accomplished.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book brought us misery!, September 12, 2008
This review is from: The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (Paperback)
I work in an semiconductor assembly site of a multinational. Because of the popularity of this book, being touted by top managers, using it as some sort of a faddish gospel, all our payment and purchasing transactions are now offshored to India.

As a result, there's so many scanning and duplicate work. It's very hard to make a follow-up to resolve an issue with India, when you cant speak in person. Sometimes, work are needlessly replicated just to complete a proper purchase-until-payment process. You cannot imagine how much time is lost.

Ive read the book myself. (I remembered an email from a business unit boss saying "that people whove read this have a great advantage to those who have not" when I was looking at the storeshelves). The writing is really convincing and it's a good, encouraging read. But after one year, Ive seen offshoring myself, and felt how terrible it is. I saw what Friedman skipped.

Friedman is really evangelizing his thesis without a single caveat. He even singled out these transactional-accounting things as should-be offshored first. But if you go down to the nitty-gritty, there are only minimal acctg transactions that can be offshored smoothly. Most activities should remain at site, depending on issues that are liable to happen. We lose a sense of ownership on resolving issues fast, as well, in the process of forcing vital analysis to a 'shared service center.'

If the author is open, I can guide him on the current mess we are in. Could have been better also for him to observe the catastrophe of transfer and endorsements, during the start/launch of offshore work.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Chinese Snakeoil salesman, February 20, 2009
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This review is from: The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century (Paperback)
Thomas Fraudmann's fairytale about the flattening of the world is so utterly simplistic in its execution that he should only be another Sunday windbag that the various networks have on to speak on this subject. I guess the fact that America is broke and we have to keep borrowing money from Japan and China to keep the government running, has no relevance to the flat world. He touches on some of the problems but he misses the biggest problems such as the trade imbalance which is destroying our economy. His next book will probably be on the subject that Wall Street should not be trusted.
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The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
The World Is Flat 3.0: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas L. Friedman (Paperback - August 7, 2007)
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