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That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back | [Thomas L. Friedman, Michael Mandelbaum]

That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back

America has a huge problem. It faces four major challenges, on which its future depends, and it is failing to meet them. In That Used to Be Us, Thomas L. Friedman, one of our most influential columnists, and Michael Mandelbaum, one of our leading foreign policy thinkers, analyze those challenges - globalization, the revolution in information technology, the nation's chronic deficits, and its pattern of energy consumption - and spell out what we need to do now to rediscover America and rise to this moment.
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Publisher's Summary

America has a huge problem. It faces four major challenges, on which its future depends, and it is failing to meet them. In That Used to Be Us, Thomas L. Friedman, one of our most influential columnists, and Michael Mandelbaum, one of our leading foreign policy thinkers, analyze those challenges - globalization, the revolution in information technology, the nation's chronic deficits, and its pattern of energy consumption - and spell out what we need to do now to rediscover America and rise to this moment.

They explain how the end of the cold war blinded the nation to the need to address these issues. They show how our history, when properly understood, provides the key to addressing them, and explain how the paralysis of our political system and the erosion of key American values have made it impossible for us to carry out the policies the country needs. They offer a way out of the trap into which the country has fallen, which includes the rediscovery of some of our most valuable traditions and the creation of a new, third-party movement.

That Used to Be Us is both a searching exploration of the American condition today and a rousing manifesto for American renewal. "As we were writing this book," Friedman and Mandelbaum explain, "we found that when we shared the title with people, they would often nod ruefully and ask: 'But does it have a happy ending?' Our answer is that we can write a happy ending, but it is up to the country - to all of us - to determine whether it is fiction or nonfiction. We need to study harder, save more, spend less, invest wisely, and get back to the formula that made us successful as a country in every previous historical turn. What we need is not novel or foreign, but values, priorities, and practices embedded in our history and culture, applied time and again to propel us forward as a country. That is all part of our past. That used to be us and can be again - if we will it."

©2011 Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum (P)2011 Macmillan Audio

What Members Say

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  •  
    John N. Rampe Fairport Harbor, OH, US 10-30-12
    John N. Rampe Fairport Harbor, OH, US 10-30-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Ignore the drama, recognize the plight we are in."
    If you could sum up That Used to Be Us in three words, what would they be?

    Tom and Micheal present an accurate portrayal of the US today. Are we as a country in decline, well we certainly embrace mediocrity as a way of life. The pictured portrayed is not pleasant but not unsolvable. We Americans can and will do the right thing but only when the pain becomes to great to not do it. Are we there yet, I suggest you answer that question when you have read That Used to Be Us.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wade T. Brooks Portland, OR, USA 06-25-12
    Wade T. Brooks Portland, OR, USA 06-25-12 Member Since 2010
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    "A Great Read"

    A big picture view of America's current state of affairs with Friedman's traditional "the world is flat" perspective. There are some good insights here and it's worth the read. Overall Friedman does a good job addressing a number of issues that I believe Americans worry about. This includes jobs, immigration, healthcare, social security, our polarized political system, technology, education, taxes, global climate change, etc. I don't always agree with Freidman's conclusions or his proposed solutions but it is intellectually stimulating and a good medium for pointing out the hot spots America needs to address.

    One bone of contention is that he is a bit fast and loose with the way he uses statistical data from other countries. Those numbers are typically self reported and almost never accurate. He uses them to make his points but take them with some healthy skepticism.

    One piece of data that caught my attention was that: "50% of companies started in Silicon Valley are started by immigrants", which is the case, but not in the rouge solo entrepreneur fashion Friedman is portraying. Over half of silicon valley startups have someone who is an immigrant on their founding team with the caveat that immigrants comprise about 50% of the population in silicon valley. So his claim is accurate but not as strong a data point as he is portraying it to be.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denise Kentfield, CA, USA 06-04-12
    Denise Kentfield, CA, USA 06-04-12 Member Since 2006
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    "Wake up US - it's a global world"
    Would you consider the audio edition of That Used to Be Us to be better than the print version?

    I preferred the audio version of this book.


    Any additional comments?

    It is a good recap of history and what we need to do to get back to being a leader in the world!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara West Hills, CA, USA 04-14-12
    Barbara West Hills, CA, USA 04-14-12 Member Since 2005
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    "All politicians should have a copy"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Excellent! Great view of the world and the USA. Suggestions for change are workable and intelligent. I sent a copy to my Senators, my Representative, my Assemblyman and my son-in-law.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn BEAUMONT, TX, United States 02-02-12
    Lynn BEAUMONT, TX, United States 02-02-12 Member Since 2005
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    "Could Use More Policy Recommendations and Analysis"

    Thomas Friedman (The World is Flat) returns with Michael Mandelbaum to consider how America fell behind the rest of the world and to recommend how she might be able to get back on track. They consider education, the debt, denial of climate change and energy policy, and political failure in Washington. There is little new here for anyone who reads the newspapers and I wish Friedman and Mandelbaum had focused more on remedies and public policy than they did. The reading of Jason Culp is excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Orlando, FL, United States 12-01-11
    David Orlando, FL, United States 12-01-11 Member Since 2003
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    "Interesting, educational,"

    This book is not only a civic lesson, interesting told, it is an application of what made us great applied to our future. Every citizen in the US should read it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Rochester, MN, United States 11-22-11
    Michael Rochester, MN, United States 11-22-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Amazing!"

    This is one of the most important books I have read in many years. The authors really seem to have a grasp on the issues that our society is facing and offer excellent insight into what needs to be done to get us back on track. I highly recommend this book for anyone who cares about where we are as a society, how we got there, and what we need to do.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zach Cody, WY 11-13-11
    Zach Cody, WY 11-13-11 Member Since 2011
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    "No original thought present"

    The authors did not provide a single original thought. Their credentials are insufficient to write a book like this. They simply replicate facts (some hard, some soft) from more prominent, smarter people. While I agree with a lot of what the duo had to say, I have read all the books that are cited and not cited by the two. Skip this book; read Gladwell, Taleb and Carnegie.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    fred greensboro nc 11-10-11
    fred greensboro nc 11-10-11 Member Since 2005
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    "Medicine tastes bad but it works"

    I am a Tom Friedman fan. I like his writing style. I like his point of view. The authors are pushing some really important stuff that we need to address now, not eventually. They come down really hard on many of our leaders. They point out over and over and over and over and over again the problems and do come up with some solutions but like most medicine, the solutions don't taste good. They're good writers, so they end the book with nice positive, success stories. Don't be a wimp. Don't just jump to the end to hear the good stuff. Take your medicine like a good kid and you'll feel better at the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles United States 10-30-11
    Charles United States 10-30-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Not quite as good"

    After reading and enjoying the World is Flat, this one just doesn't quite measure up. Possibly better if you had not read the prior work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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