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This Author: Thomas L. Friedman
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The World Is Flat, Release 3.0 by Thomas L. Friedman

The World Is Flat, Release 3.0

A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

by Thomas L. Friedman

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Title Details

Unabridged Edition
Running Time
25 Hrs.
User Rating
  4.4  Stars Based on 9 ratings


One mark of a great book is that it makes you see things in a new way, and Mr. Friedman certainly succeeds in that goal,” the Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote in The New York Times, reviewing THE WORLD IS FLAT in 2005. With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman brilliantly demystifies the new flat world for listeners, making sense of the advances in technology and communications that challenge us to run even faster just to stay in place. For these updated and expanded editions, Friedman has added more hours of commentary, fresh stories and insights. New material includes:
• The reasons the flattening of the world “will be seen in time as one of those fundamental shifts or inflection points, like the invention of the printing press, the rise of the nation-state, or the Industrial Revolution”
• A mapping of the New Middle—the places and spaces in the flat world where middle-class jobs will be found—and portraits of the character types who will find success as New Middlers
• An account of the qualities American parents and teachers need to cultivate in young people so that they will be able to thrive in the flat world
• An account of the “globalization of the local”: how the flattening of the world is actually strengthening local and regional identities rather than homogenizing the world

More than ever, THE WORLD IS FLAT is an essential update on globalization, its successes and discontents, powerfully illuminated by one of our most respected journalists.

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Reviews & Ratings
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Reviewer Donald
 February 17, 2006
The World Is Flat is an easy, if long, read about the nature of global competition among countries, companies and individuals as circumstances stood in 2004.

Let me describe his key points. Mr. Friedman begins by describing ten forces that were powerful in creating today's extreme business competition on a global scale (the fall of the Berlin Wall, advances in computer communications and software, reductions in cost to connect organizations together by computer-directed instructions, new ways of partnering and the rise of portable, real-time information access over the Internet). He then describes a triple convergence that has accelerated change: World-wide, real-time, flexible collaboration that allows more horizontal ways to provide value; companies learning how to use the new technologies to create new types of organizations, services and structures; and the entry of several billion new people into global business competition.

Mr. Friedman goes on to describe the implications of the 2004 world for the future. He sees a need for more education, greater specialization, learning new skills and moving up the ladder of adding more value . . . or a job, a company or a country will see its position degraded or even replaced by a more effective competitor elsewhere. For the United States, he sees a "quiet crisis" as other nations outrace its citizens for advanced education and work harder to compete. Today's lead can soon become tomorrow's obsolescence. In the meantime, consumers will benefit from cheaper imported goods and offshore services.

For developing countries, the challenge is greater. They were behind to start with. Mexico finds itself being displaced by China in serving the U.S. market, even though Mexico is right next door. The key task is to free local entrepreneurs to operate efficiently and to put good infrastructure and education in place.

In geopolitics, much focus will turn to a fight over raw materials as developing nations add great needs for energy and the minerals and food needed to urbanize and industrialize. He also sees severe environmental problems ahead.

The Muslim world is mostly seen as being left out . . . and becoming resentful . . . leading to more terrorism.

Mr. Friedman also encourages companies and countries to find ways to open up this new world to the 3 billion poorest people.

At the end, he describes a world of unbounded opportunity if we only have enough imagination to create a better future.

Mr. Friedman is a good writer, a confessed humanist and a great teller of anecdotes. He traveled to many of the places he wrote about in the book which gives his story depth, color and texture. It also makes his messages more compelling and interesting.

The book has three flaws that will bother many people.

First, his points about global business competition are not new in any way. So this book will be largely a waste of time for those who have been following this development for some time. As a result, this book will be of most value to those who are new to the subject.

Second, his central metaphor of a flat world doesn't really work. Mr. Friedman is arguing that we have a level global playing field except for some minor advantages that already exist (location, raw materials such as oil, education levels, computer and communications access, and knowledge of languages). If he had called the book "The Playing Field Is Level," that metaphor would have worked. He is also arguing that communications place us in great proximity to one another and that trend is continuing. From that observation, it's possible to see the world as a concave bowl with ever rising sides causing all of us to slide closer together at the bottom. "The World Is a Concave Bowl with Rising Sides" isn't much of a book title, so I can see why he avoided that metaphor. Nevertheless, the title metaphor is wrong and it's annoying to have to read so much about it throughout the book. I also found the cover illustration to be annoying for this reason. The world he is describing is one where sailing ships will founder because they cannot survive pitched battles with other sailing ships that have better guns and maneuverability . . . not one where some people are falling off the end of the earth. It's a great illustration . . . but for another book.

Third, many of his solutions are more rhetorical than real. Mr. Friedman would have done better to seek out those who have created major solutions to difficult problems (such as the Grameen Bank in creating entrepreneurs among the impoverished) rather than to describe little experiments that companies have done. But the rhetoric will encourage you to think about what he has to say . . . and perhaps your imagination will be stimulated to see new ways you can contribute. If so, that would be good.

Find new ways to achieve old objectives! And good luck to you as you do.

Reviewer LOLJPB
 February 17, 2006
General Review: What makes a perfect audiobook? Well, I would say a few things. First, you need compelling content. Second, you need great narration and sound quality. Those are givens but in my mind there's a third characteristic that can make an audiobook extra special. That's when the audiobook is one that you normally wouldn't find the time to read.

That pretty much describes how I felt while listening to The World is Flat. The content is extremely compelling as Friedman runs through an array of interesting issues and anecdotes. From 11/09 to 09/11 (you'll understand this if you listen...), there honestly isn's a single let-down in this title (an impressive feat considering that this title is almost 20 hours long). And Friedman makes a pretty compelling case for a why a "flat world" (one is which the tradiitonal geographic and information barriers are knocked down will benefit nearly all of its constituents.

The narration and sound quality of this title was excellent as well. Oliver Wyman does a fantastic job and the production is high-quality all the way. When you're listening for nearly 20 hours this can make a huge difference!

Finally, I'll be the first person to admit that I likely would never have "read" The World is Flat. It's a long book and with everything else on my plate, chances are I would have never gotten around to this one. Which is why I love the audio format so much. Between listening while in my car, running errands, etc., I was able to finish this one in a couple of weeks. That's very cool.

I can't recommend many audio books more highly than this one. If globalization interests you in the least, I think you'll find this title fascinating.

Audio-Specific Review: I listened to the unabridged digital version (19 1/2 hours) through Audible.com. As previously mentioned, everything about this production was first rate. It's an extremely listenable title.

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  • LearnOutLoud.com Product ID: T005353
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Audio CD
20 Discs