©2007 Thomas L. Friedman; (P)2007 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC
"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." (The Washington Post)
"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." (The Christian Science Monitor)
I skimmed the hard copy and settled on the audio book version. There are quite a few epiphanies here that take a while for the author to walk through but are worth the listen. The underlying theme that pervades this tome appears to be "Wake up America"! It could have been shorter and less prose like. The only other reviews that I saw that were negative centered around the fact that he wasn't telling us anything new. This viewpoint depends on your level of exposure to the business world - if you already significantly well read in this area there are no great eye openers. If however you are not sufficiently tuned in to globalization, transnationals, supply chain, outsourcing, insourcing and etc then put on some comfortable earphones and listen away.
This is a runaway bestseller??? I listened to the whole 27 hours and didn't hear anything I haven't been reading in Forbes, WSJ and Business Week for the last 10 years. I guess if you've been in a cave since 1997 or parachuted here from Mars and need a quick lesson on society, this could be helpful. Otherwise, I strongly discourage this. It is full of cliche and group-think. I felt I should have been given a medal for enduring the whole ordeal.
Unabridged, repetitive and unending! A few good concepts dragged out for 27 hours. I only listen to unabridged audio books to assuage my guilt about not having time to read the real things. However, I can't believe this is just a reading of the book - 27 hours?! - the book is not that long - I've seen it. This is an unabridged "audio production," which apparently means talk until your audience falls asleep at the wheel.
I listened to a sneak peek of this book early on but decided not to get it as it was long and the tone of the presentation was dry. Then this book was listed as a must read by leaders I respect so I finally got it.
The start is a bit slow and then it ran into my personal interests, I love the topic of software, internet, what can be done, the history of it and all. I still had to shut it down. What could be said in two minutes takes twenty then there is a re-cap. And on and on.
My five hour drive seemed like a ten hour drive.
I don't know why someone would not edit it down. I will look for the Cliff Notes.
Now living in Estes Park, Colorado.
It's ironic that at least twice in this book Friedman decried those bloggers and other content uploaders who click the send button before checking what they have written. This book is in desperate need of a good editor who would tell Friedman things like,"You've already made this point." or "That metaphor was clever only the first time you used it" or "I don't think we need yet another example" or, "Let's cut out this kum-ba-ya moment."
There is plenty of good insight and commentary in this book, for example when he explains his concept of Islamist-leninism. However, there is a lot of repetition. I almost screamed as he went through the creation of his personalized Dell computer describing where each and every part of the computer had been manufactured and how it was assembled. The point he was trying to make was a good one, but it had already been made clear before.
I would recommend this book in its abridged version as there is just about 10 hours of worthwhile material in it. And that good material is very good.
I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.
There's a problem with The World is Flat and it's not Thomas Friedman's fault. His research is impeccable, his questions probing, his prose light and readable. No, the problem is that this book is now antiquated. It's sad to say that only a few years after the most recent publication, but I believe it's true.
The World is Flat discusses about how telecommunications in the digital age substantively changed the economics of the whole world. It describes how America has fallen behind parts of the world like India and Russia in taking greatest advantage of these changes and he predicts a shifting of economic supremacy in the future. Like I said, his research and reasoning is sound. But this was published before the 2008 economic collapse. That changed not only the United States but much of the Western and the developed world as well.
Because of the timing, his predictions are no longer exacting. If he wrote a new book, one discussing who will rise from the economic ashes best and fastest, using the technology he discussed in this book, I would read it. Friedman is good author, I just feel this book has been eclipsed by history.
The audiobook is definitely worth listening to if you are in any way interested in what is going on in our world today. In especially the first half of the audiobook you are introduced to how the world is flattened in a simple and easily understandable way. The audiobook only gets 4 stars, since it never seems to end, and you need several cups of coffee to stay awake through the entire audiobook.
The book's concepts are mostly just the author preaching his biases, which is fine, but his concepts are nothing new at all. If you read any news or books in the last 3 yrs, you should already have thought about these concepts.
However, the killer is the audio reader, Oliver Wyman. when he reads people's quotes from the book, he fakes an accent. So when he reads an Indian guys quote, he tries to imitate a slight Indian accent. After a few hours of listening, it gets a bit annoying.
I really enjoyed this book. I live in the UK, travel quite a bit, but work completely online and am employed in the US. I therefore experience some of the flattening effects this book talks about.
What I enjoyed: His examples of how technology is changing the world.
His almost prophetic words in part 4 about what technology could do to the Arab world (i.e. the Arab spring, spread of rights to individuals).
The author's focus on India and China in today's economy.
What I did not like:
-There is a reason 3.0 was the third edition in as many years. Because of the design of this book, it automatically dates itself. There are so many things that have happened technologically and globally that are not mentioned (the great recession, he notes $50 a barrel oil as being expensive, the iphone/smart phenomena, netbooks and tablet computers, wireless mobile broadband access in your computer without wifi, etc.)
-I suppose 3.0 just added new material rather than actually reformat parts of the book. The author's voice changed at times, and I took that to mean it was an addition to the book.
-By part 4 I was ready to finish the book.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, and think it is worth the listen.
Friedman does a great job of showing how digital communications is changing how we work and how it can level access to influence. His analysis is weakened by his comittment to a free market economy. There is a moral and social dimension to the reduction of national boundaries that will come as a result of these changes which Friedman does not address. Russia should be as much a case for analysis as is India. Their differences speak to the importance of a social democracy in guiding economic change to serve the greater good.
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