- Paperback: 490 pages
- Publisher: Anchor; 1 edition (May 2, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385499345
- ISBN-13: 978-0385499347
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 389 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #590,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization Paperback – May 2, 2000
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#1 New York Times Business Bestseller
"A brilliant guide to the here and now."--The New York Times Book Review
"An owner's manual for a globalized world."--USA Today
"A spirited and imaginative exploration of our new order of economic globalization.... Not only clear but interesting, not only interesting but necessary to us--first-rate."
--The New York Times
"A wellspring of economic common sense that will innoculate its readers against the 'globaloney' so prevalent in popular discussions of the subject.... Readers in search of a window onto the problems of the cyberspace-driven 'virtual world economy' of the twenty-first century are unlikely to find a better place to start."--Foreign Affairs
"This is an important book; not since Nicholas Negroponte's Being Digital has a volume come along that so well explains the technical and financial ether we are all swimming through.... There is hardly a page in the book without an underlineable passage."--Salon
"All of us are groping to understand what's going on. For a useful first pass on history, consult Thomas Friedman."--Business Week
"Required reading for anyone who still thinks of the Internet as little more than a gimmick for computer nerds--deftly accomplishes the impressive task of encapsulating the complex economic, cultural, and environmental challenges of globalization with the sort of hindsight that future historians will bring to bear upon the subject."--The Christian Science Monitor
From the Inside Flap
From one of our most perceptive commentators and winner of the National Book Award, a comprehensive look at the new world of globalization, the international system that, more than anything else, is shaping world affairs today.
As the Foreign Affairs columnist for The New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman has traveled the globe, interviewing people from all walks of contemporary life: Brazilian peasants in the Amazon rain forest, new entrepreneurs in Indonesia, Islamic students in Teheran, and the financial wizards on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley.
Now Friedman has drawn on his years on the road to produce an engrossing and original look at globalization. Globalization, he argues, is not just a phenomenon and not just a passing trend. It is the international system that replaced the Cold War system; the new, well-greased, interconnected system: Globalization is the integration of capital, technology, and information across national borders, in a way that is creating a single global market and, to some degreee, a global village. Simply put, one can't possibly understand the morning news or one's own investments without some grasp of the system. Just one example: During the Cold War, we reached for the hot line between the White House and the Kremlin--a symbol that we were all divided but at least the two superpowers were in charge. In the era of globalization, we reach for the Internet--a symbol that we are all connected but nobody is totally in charge.
With vivid stories and a set of original terms and concepts, Friedman offers readers remarkable access to his unique understanding of this new world order, and shows us how to see this new system. He dramatizes the conflict of "the Lexus and the olive tree"--the tension between the globalization system and ancient forces of culture, geography, tradition, and community. He also details the powerful backlash that globalization produces among those who feel brutalized by it, and he spells out what we all need to do to keep the system in balance. Finding the proper balance between the Lexus and the olive tree is the great drama of he globalization era, and the ultimate theme of Friedman's challenging, provocative book--essential reading for all who care about how the world really works.
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In hindsight now there is plenty that Friedman got wrong. But I don't see Friedman as an academic at all. I think he's very plugged into how people think and he expresses that and educates us mainly about ourselves. This makes sense when one considers his background as a correspondent and reporter. He has always excelled at communication. Wikipedia reports that he now commands fifty thousand per speaking engagement. He's come a long way since publishing this book. He's just so darn likeable in person that one naturally feels glad for his success (in my opinion).
At the time of The Lexus and The Olive Tree, globalization as a topic was relatively new and as it's such a magnificently large topic, nobody could really understand it. Therefore, I can't find fault with it but I don't know if I'd recommend it now. Better to read Friedman's articles, as he's still a prolific contemporary writer.
Friedman represents a rare breed of modern reporter with his mastery of both global politics and economics. For me, From Beirut to Jerusalem was a Baedeker on the Byzantine realities of the Middle East. (I first worked in Egypt in 1953, and felt that he had scored a bull's-eye). His perceptive March 30, 1999 op-ed article on Serbia/Kosovo remains totally valid after months of punishing bombing, then tortuous negotiations with Russian good offices.
What I find so remarkable about Lexus and Olive Tree is that, unlike Paul Kennedy's and Samuel Huntington's scholarly suppositions, Friedman links his bold schematic globalization to what has been actually occurring in America and around the world. Some critics find his `I was there' reportorial style off putting, reminiscent of Robert Mitchum in Winds of War. The fact is that he was there! This extraordinary reporter has provided a Tocquevillean global tour de force that rings true both in Silicon Valley and in rural Chinese villages.
No one is sufficiently experienced to assess the veracity of all that Friedman reports and conceptualizes. Personally, I find credible his vignette on the ubiquitous `man from Moody's.' In 1974 I created Moody's international bond ratings. What Friedman describes a generation later passes my gut-check test.
Paul Krugman, whose record for puncturing fad theories is impressive, seriously questions whether Friedman's global vision might soon end in the dust bin with Lester Thurow, Kennedy, and others. In this instance, I suspect that Krugman, rather swiftly, will become a Friedman advocate. Certainly it is possible to nit-pick paragraphs in a book of such stunning boldness. What I find most credible is Friedman's cool-handed objectivity in identifying `The Backlash Against the [Global] System.' Unlike scholars, he is not presenting a cerebral concept supported by selective footnotes. Rather, Friedman is describing what he, as well as leaders and ordinary citizens around the world, are experiencing.
Adam Smith, in 1776, described the immutable force of the market economy. Only with the 1989 collapse of the Berlin Wall have alternatives to this market economy disappeared from center stage. In 1999, Friedman provides a snapshot of a cyber-paced global economy that will profoundly shape the 21st Century.
The Great Recession had proven the techno-Utopian ideas in the book wrong, and Karl Marx is far from irrelevant to my generation the Millennials, to whom globalization offers a very bleak future.
Still, I think it's an important book to read to understand where neoliberals are coming from. Friedman is pretty compassionate for one of their kind.