The World is Flat

So I finally got around to reading The World is Flat. My cousin who I’m staying with (and whose usual reading is self-help books) had MED for it and in a moment of weakness I succumbed.

I didn’t find it as terrible as Prof. Ed Leamer’s scathing review (so scathing, he takes no less than 51 pages to scathe through) makes it out to be. The difference drawn between wholesale reform and retail reform was one of the better parts of the book, and the first time I’ve actually seen it drawn outside of a one-off newspaper op-ed or blogpost. On the other hand, the breast beating about declining standards in American education and what should be done about them, are entertaining to read but manage to contradict the rest of the book stunningly.

The overall impression I got of the book is that Thomas Friedman is to business journalism what Navjot Singh Sidhu is to cricket commentary. While there is an actual concept at the bottom of everything they talk about, these guys fall in love with their metaphors, to the point where the metaphor takes on a life of itself, and it becomes impossible to find the funda. Such is life.

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0 Responses to The World is Flat

  1. concerned citizen says:

    Well, Ed Leamer’s is maybe a longish scathing attack, but for an economist, it can get very galling I guess, to hear Friedman’s stupid metaphors, his simplistic solutions to complex problems and also his silly habit of name dropping, his quotes of his numerous “friends” (all corporate CEO’s ofcourse, no common man at all among them!)

    I would much rather the discourse on Globalization came from economists like Joesph Stiglitz (Nobel winner for economics and was Chief Economist at World Bank), Paul Krugman (Princeton), Pankaj Ghemawat (Harvard)etc. To read Ted Koppel’s interview of Friedman and Joseph Stiglitz, check out this link:

    There is an other small, but interesting book I would recommend, by Aronica and Ramdoo, “The World is Flat? A Critical Analysis of Thomas Friedman’s New York Times Bestseller,” which offers a counterperspective to Friedman’s theory on globalization.

    Interestingly enough, the book written about two years back, discusses in the chapter, “Debt and Financialization of America,” the debt ridden American society, deregulated financial institutions, mortgage crisis and other related issues, with clear pointers to the economic crisis gripping US today.

    It is a small book compared to the 600 page tome by Friedman, and aimed at the common man and students alike. As popular as the book may be, some reviewers assert that by what it leaves out, Friedman’s book is dangerous. The authors point to the fact that there isn’t a single table or data footnote in Friedman’s entire book.

    You may want to see
    and watch
    for an interesting counterperspective on Friedman’s
    “The World is Flat”.

    Also a really interesting 6 min wake-up call: Shift Happens!

    There is also a companion book listed: Extreme Competition: Innovation and the Great 21st Century Business Reformation

    The most hilarious and scathing article I read on “The world is flat” is by Matt Taibbi.

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