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on February 13, 2017
This book addresses some of the difficulties of globalization the study of which is especially pertinent today when the world seems to be shifting to isolationism and populism. The pendulum had maybe swung too far towards the Lexus at the expense of the Olive Tree and people want change from the status quo, all over the world. These very issues are addressed in this prophetic book. Thanks for another great read, Tom Friedman!
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VINE VOICEon October 25, 2009
When this book first came out in 1999, I was fortunate to go to a local bookstore and see Friedman give a talk about his book. He talked in general terms and not just about his book, and the large crowd was enthralled. I had arrived early and so did he and I actually chatted with him for a few minutes. I was impressed his politeness and he seemed humble considering that he was already a celebrity, having appeared on numerous talk shows.

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.
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on September 3, 2016
While this was required reading for a required college course, and I have ZERO interest in the subject matter of this book, (sorry!) I really enjoyed reading it. My mind and world-view was greatly expanded. What could be dry material is entertaining and well written. I'm glad they "MADE" me read this. I have referred back even after that class was over.
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on June 8, 1999
For nearly two decades, I have considered Tom Friedman one of the savviest and shrewdest reporters on the Middle East, then foreign affairs. The Lexus and the Olive Tree establishes him as a multi-dimensional Walter Lippmann whose political/economic/social grasp of the Globalization Revolution makes him a must read for anyone who seeks to understand and capitalize on this systemic globalization earthquake.
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.
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on December 8, 2013
This book is clearly a product of the 1990s - optimistically thinking that capitalism and American-led globalization will solve all our problems. Written just 8 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he was obviously influenced by Francis Fukuyama's "End of History".

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.
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on July 3, 2015
In my view, Thomas Friedman has the world's best understanding of the inter-relationships between and among economics, globalization, technology, culture and history. He also has the ability to communicate his understanding of these forces and how they affect nations and sectarian groups as well as individuals. His understanding of the Middle East is especially strong and impressive. Although I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Lexus and the Olive Tree, and I felt that it really educated me on some very important subjects, the second half of the book was somewhat depressing to me; it seemed to indicate that globalization was taking the world into a constantly changing Darwinistic state of "survival of the fittest, a state that would hurt many nations and people.
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on May 2, 2006
Friedman has accomplished something important and persuasive in this insightful book on global economics. His journalistic style, considerable intellect, and personal insights combine to make this a profound, important commentary on the international economic trend known as "globalization".

Many of us in the baby boomer generation grew up aware of the cold war, "regional spheres of influence", East vs West, and later, North vs South. World economics was dominated by east-west tensions and the competition for allies in an uncertain world. All of that has changed. Except that it is still an uncertain world.

The "Electronic Herd" (market forces personified by Wall Street), Supermarkets (regional markets replacing superpowers), Golden Straitjacket (adherence to capitalistic doctrine) have brought us into a wide-open, fast-moving, capitalistic system that is reshaping the world.

In Friedman's eyes, the good news is: capitalism won. The bad news is: capitalism won. As an economic system, capitalism is unrivaled in the efficient production of goods and services, the distribution of those goods and services, and in the production of wealth. Pure capitalism does not address issues of social equality, safety nets for poor people, and justice. It does address the issues of demand, pricing, and supply.

Friedman applauds the power and efficiency of capitalism but seems offended by its lack of conscience. He desires it to be softened and tempered by government and liberal programs aimed at redistribution and social programs.

Still, his clear-sightedness and understanding of the complex, aggressive, fast-paced economic systems at work are well worth the minor nuisances of his liberal agenda. He makes it relatively easy to skip those pages.

When it comes to understanding the role of capital and the capitalistic system, Dr. John Rutledge and Milton Friedman are more useful mentors than John Kenneth Galbreath and John Maynard Keynes. Freedom, democracy, and personal liberty are all indispensible allies of a capitalistic system. Dreams and livlihoods are both made possible by the freedom of markets, the free flow of capital, and enterprise.

For a quick study on current issues in global economics, this book is excellent.
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on April 27, 2017
This book is just amazing. Had to buy it for my Global Business MBA class and really enjoyed it. Surely outdated, but follows its concept. It will definitely be a good read in about 20 years!
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on November 16, 2002
I have been reading several books about globalization and I find Friedman's text to be both enjoyable and insightful. The book argues that "globalization is everything and its opposite." By this Friedman seems to saying that globalization has an extremely wide reach and includes politics, culture, technology, finance, national security, and ecology. Additionally, I think he is saying that globalization can be harnessed to bring about good or it can be allowed to benefit the few at the cost of many. It empowers good and ill intentions equally. As a result of the broad reach and empowerment, globalization must be shaped--today!--if we are to create a sustainable system. In the end, Friedman is a hopeful globalist. He sees the shift away from a cold-war system, to a global system, as essentially irreversible. Consequently, he ends the book by discussing (quite generally) how we can take a more active role in shaping the global system.
Friedman's style is clearly journalistic rather than academic. Many of his examples are anecdotal and the book is filled with analogies and metaphors. For these reasons, I think the book makes an excellent introduction to the topic. Though the anecdotes and quotes may not create an unshakable foundation for any individual argument, over the course of the book I came to realize that Friedman has tremendous experience and insight because of his work as the foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times. He sees globalization in very broad terms. I think we can learn quite a bit from Friedman's broad perspective and, when considering the book as a whole, I am inclined to appreciate the broad perspective rather than criticize it.
Throughout the book you are introduced to a range of interesting theories and comparisons. Maybe the most famous theory is the Golden Arches Theory of conflict. We find numerous comparisons to Michael Jordan and the NBA when explaining the USA as a hyperpower and our necessary relations with the rest of the world. These are but two examples of how Friedman takes a complex and important topic, and makes this topic readable, entertaining, and informative. The most important symbols, however, are found in the title. The Lexus represents the globalized, high-tech world while the olive tree represents that little bit of home and tradition we all love and refuse to let go of. The tension between global and local interests forms the centerpiece of this book.
I think this book might be an ideal starting point for learning about globalization. If you start with Friedman's book, however, I suspect you may not want not stop here. There are other texts that take a more thorough and scholarly approach to the topic. Reading this book will provide you with enough information to move on to other texts or have a better understanding of many current issues. And what more can we ask for from a nonfiction book? Intelligent, entertaining, and well written. I have to conclude that "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" is a good read.
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on June 12, 2000
Friedman does an excellent job in bringing the experience and history of globalization to the general public; although Friedman is emphatic in his explanation that globalization is not a phenomemon or a trend. He provides excellent examples of what is occuring in the world in relation to politics and economics. He fully explains the title of the book and how it applies to globalization and the US pace that is set and how it is pertinent to our way of life at this moment. It was an experience to read his book and in doing so, opened my eyes to the placement of the US in the world scheme. I am not an individual that is usually intrigued by politics or economics on the world scale, but Friedman provides the links between events and outcomes of the past several years, that helped me to grasp where the US has been and where we are currently going. This book has been passed around to all my colleagues and business associates. I recommend this edition for those that have read the first edition of Friedman's and encourage those that may be hesitant to involve one's self into this topic, to just read the first chapter before coming to a decision.
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