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The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century

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The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century Cover

ISBN13: 9780374292881
ISBN10: 0374292884
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Excerpt

Excerpt from The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas L. Friedman. To be published in April, 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

ONE

While I Was Sleeping

Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians, and princes who love and promote the holy Christian faith, and are enemies of the doctrine of Mahomet, and of all idolatry and heresy, determined to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the above-mentioned countries of India, to see the said princes, people, and territories, and to learn their disposition and the proper method of converting them to our holy faith; and furthermore directed that I should not proceed by land to the East, as is customary, but by a Westerly route, in which direction we have hitherto no certain evidence that anyone has gone.

--Entry from the journal of Christopher Columbus on his voyage of 1492

No one ever gave me directions like this on a golf course before: "Aim at either Microsoft or IBM." I was standing on the first tee at the KGA Golf Club in downtown Bangalore, in southern India, when my playing partner pointed at two shiny glass-and-steel buildings off in the distance, just behind the first green. The Goldman Sachs building wasn't done yet; otherwise he could have pointed that out as well and made it a threesome. HP and Texas Instruments had their offices on the back nine, along the tenth hole. That wasn't all. The tee markers were from Epson, the printer company, and one of our caddies was wearing a hat from 3M. Outside, some of the traffic signs were also sponsored by Texas Instruments, and the Pizza Hut billboard on the way over showed a steaming pizza, under the headline "Gigabites of Taste!"

No, this definitely wasn't Kansas. It didn't even seem like India. Was this the New World, the Old World, or the Next World?

I had come to Bangalore, India's Silicon Valley, on my own Columbus-like journey of exploration. Columbus sailed with the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María in an effort to discover a shorter, more direct route to India by heading west, across the Atlantic, on what he presumed to be an open sea route to the East Indies--rather than going south and east around Africa, as Portuguese explorers of his day were trying to do. India and the magical Spice Islands of the East were famed at the time for their gold, pearls, gems, and silk--a source of untold riches. Finding this shortcut by sea to India, at a time when the Muslim powers of the day had blocked the overland routes from Europe, was a way for both Columbus and the Spanish monarchy to become wealthy and powerful. When Columbus set sail, he apparently assumed the Earth was round, which was why he was convinced that he could get to India by going west. He miscalculated the distance, though. He thought the Earth was a smaller sphere than it is. He also did not anticipate running into a landmass before he reached the East Indies. Nevertheless, he called the aboriginal peoples he encountered in the new world "Indians." Returning home, though, Columbus was able to tell his patrons, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, that although he never did find India, he could confirm that the world was indeed round.

I set out for India by going due east, via Frankfurt. I had Lufthansa business class. I knew exactly which direction I was going thanks to the GPS map displayed on the screen that popped out of the armrest of my airline seat. I landed safely and on schedule. I too encountered people called Indians. I too was searching for the source of India's riches. Columbus was searching for hardware--precious metals, silk, and spices--the source of wealth in his day. I was searching for software, brainpower, complex algorithms, knowledge workers, call centers, transmission protocols, breakthroughs in optical engineering--the sources of wealth in our day. Columbus was happy to make the Indians her met his slaves, a pool of free manual labor.

I just wanted to understand why the Indians I met were taking our work, why they had become such an important pool for the outsourcing of service and information technology work from America and other industrialized countries. Columbus had more than one hundred men on his three ships; I had a small crew from the Discovery Times channel that fit comfortably into two banged-up vans, with Indian drivers who drove barefoot. When I set sail, so to speak, I too assumed that the world was round, but what I encountered in the real India profoundly shook my faith in that notion. Columbus accidentally ran into America but thought he had discovered part of India. I actually found India and thought many of the people I met there were Americans. Some had actually taken American names, and others were doing great imitations of American accents at call centers and American business techniques at software labs.

Columbus reported to his king and queen that the world was round, and he went down in history as the man who first made this discovery. I returned home and shared my discovery only with my wife, and only in a whisper.

"Honey," I confided, "I think the world is flat."

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Spielman, May 27, 2008 (view all comments by Spielman)
Thomas Friedman brilliantly lays out the new world order: Globalization. Despite not having an economic background, Friedman clearly explains how globalization is affecting the world. Through his extensive travels, Friedman also has a unique perspective into global phenomenons and he brings this viewpoint to the forefront in his book.
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wwwdavids, December 31, 2006 (view all comments by wwwdavids)
Friedman tells interesting stories about the changing world etc, though one would like to dig deeper into the issues. Also, his understanding about China and India is very much on the surface. Not very insightful on what is behind current development in China and India. A far better book is: China and the new world order: how entrepreneurship, globalization, and borderless business are reshaping china and the world by george zhibin gu, which really offers far-reaching ideas and insights on what is behind the surge over there as well as challenges.
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(20 of 42 readers found this comment helpful)
Fernando, July 1, 2006 (view all comments by Fernando)
This book really gets you thinking, am i ready for the flat world? as an incoming freshman, i had to read this book and really got me to think about the real competiton that i will be faced with after college. I really recommend it, especially to young people.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780374292881
Subtitle:
A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
Author:
Friedman, Thomas L.
Author:
Wyman, Oliver
Publisher:
Macmillan Audio
Subject:
Diffusion of innovations
Subject:
Information society
Subject:
Globalization
Subject:
International Relations - General
Subject:
Modern - 21st Century
Subject:
History & Theory - General
Subject:
General Social Science
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
April 2005
Binding:
CD-audio
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
6 cds, 7 hours
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
9.00 x 6.00 x 1.55 in

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Related Subjects


Featured Titles » History and Social Science
History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Economics » Global Economics
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » 21st Century

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century Used Hardcover
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Product details 496 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374292881 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Before 9/11, New York Times columnist Friedman was best known as the author of The Lexus and the Olive Tree, one of the major popular accounts of globalization and its discontents. Having devoted most of the last four years of his column to the latter as embodied by the Middle East, Friedman picks up where he left off, saving al-Qaeda et al. for the close. For Friedman, cheap, ubiquitous telecommunications have finally obliterated all impediments to international competition, and the dawning 'flat world' is a jungle pitting 'lions' and 'gazelles,' where 'economic stability is not going to be a feature' and 'the weak will fall farther behind.' Rugged, adaptable entrepreneurs, by contrast, will be empowered. The service sector (telemarketing, accounting, computer programming, engineering and scientific research, etc.), will be further outsourced to the English-spoken abroad; manufacturing, meanwhile, will continue to be off-shored to China. As anyone who reads his column knows, Friedman agrees with the transnational business executives who are his main sources that these developments are desirable and unstoppable, and that American workers should be preparing to 'create value through leadership' and 'sell personality.' This is all familiar stuff by now, but the last 100 pages on the economic and political roots of global Islamism are filled with the kind of close reporting and intimate yet accessible analysis that have been hard to come by. Add in Friedman's winning first-person interjections and masterful use of strategic wonksterisms, and this book should end up on the front seats of quite a few Lexuses and SUVs of all stripes. (Apr. 5) " Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "This book is really a manual, or an idiot's guide to surviving in the computer age. It provides specific steps for individuals, companies, and poor nations to adapt to a 'flat world.' Friedman's advice to his own daughters: 'Girls, finish your homework — people in China and India are starving for your jobs.'... No one today chronicles global shifts in simple and practical terms quite like Friedman. He plucks insights from his travels and the published press that can leave you spinning like a top. Or rather, a pancake." (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
"Review" by , "Like its predecessor, this book showcases Friedman's gift for lucid dissections of abstruse economic phenomena, his teacher's head, his preacher's heart, his genius for trend-spotting....We've no real idea how the 21st century's history will unfold, but this terrifically stimulating book will certainly inspire readers to start thinking it all through."
"Review" by , "Thomas L. Friedman, three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times, offers a tantalizing look at the future in The World Is Flat."
"Review" by , "Those who look forward to a planet of Wal-Marts and Dells will be charmed. Those who don't — well, welcome to the flat world."
"Review" by , "A little more humor might have offset the author's trademark earnestness; still, as he has with other global issues, Friedman brings coherence and a workable plan of action to the fundamental changes our world is experiencing."
"Review" by , "This is a provocative, entertaining and instructive book, one that deserves a position of prominence in every library. It deserves an even higher place on the bestseller list."
"Review" by , "Friedman can sometimes sound like a technological determinist. And while he does acknowledge political factors, they get little space in the book, which gives it a lopsided feel."
"Review" by , "There is much in this book to please and provoke thought, but perhaps its over-optimism might be tempered by a tandem reading of Jared Diamond's Collapse."
"Review" by , "Important, provocative and infuriating....After years consorting with CEOs at such events as the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Friedman seems to have become a captive of their world."
"Review" by , "Wide-ranging, lively and readable....The World Is Flat is a real book, not simply a compilation of columns. Many readers will enjoy its engaging descriptions of current and future directions in the global economy."
"Review" by , "Friedman writes so well that even the technologically challenged will enjoy and learn much from this book. Unlike many who study these issues, Friedman never loses his sense of wonder, and that makes him a fine companion for exploring the flattened world."
"Synopsis" by , In this brilliant new book, an award-winning New York Times columnist demystifies the brave new world for readers, allowing them to make sense of the often bewildering global scene unfolding before their eyes. With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the 21st century.
"Synopsis" by ,
The Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist gives a bold, timely, and surprising picture of the state of globalization in the twenty-first century

When scholars write the history of the world twenty years from now, and they come to the chapter “Y2K to March 2004,” what will theysay was the most crucial development? The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Iraq war? Or the convergence of technology and events that allowed India, China, and so many other countries to become part of the global supply chain for services and manufacturing, creating an explosion of wealth in the middle classes of the worlds two biggest nations, giving them a huge new stake in the success of globalization? And with this “flattening” of the globe, which requires us to run faster in order to stay in place, has the world gotten too small and too fast for human beings and their political systems to adjust in a stable manner? In this brilliant new work, the award-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman demystifies the brave new world, allowing listeners to make sense of the often bewildering global scene unfolding before their eyes. With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the twenty-first century; what it means to countries, companies, communities, and individuals; and how governments and societies can, and must, adapt. The World Is Flat is the timely and essential update on globalization, its successes and discontents, powerfully illuminated by one of our most respected journalists.

"Synopsis" by ,
When scholars write the history of the world twenty years from now, and they come to the chapter "Y2K to March 2004," what will they say was the most crucial development? The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Iraq war? Or the convergence of technology and events that allowed India, China, and so many other countries to become part of the global supply chain for services and manufacturing, creating an explosion of wealth in the middle classes of the world's two biggest nations, giving them a huge new stake in the success of globalization? And with this "flattening" of the globe, which requires us to run faster in order to stay in place, has the world gotten too small and too fast for human beings and their political systems to adjust in a stable manner?

In this brilliant new book, the award-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman demystifies the brave new world for readers, allowing them to make sense of the often bewildering global scene unfolding before their eyes. With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the twenty-first century; what it means to countries, companies, communities, and individuals; and how governments and societies can, and must, adapt. The World Is Flat is the timely and essential update on globalization, its successes and discontents, powerfully illuminated by one of our most respected journalists.

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