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
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.
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.
If you have already read or listened to "The World is Flat 3.0" and "Hot, Flat and Crowded 2.0", then there is only a small amount of new information in this book. There are new stories that focus on the same themes that are present in the other two books.
This book begins with the theme that there are areas where the United States used to do a good job but now appears to be lagging ("That used to be us"). However, as the book proceeds, these are mixed up with the authors' views about how we "should" be. For example, there is a chapter on the values of having a diverse military. That diversity is a very recent phenomena and the recent changes in the way gays and lesbians are treated are largely in their infancy. As another example, there are several chapters related to how workers must train and work in order to be competitive in the modern global economy. The authors might be right about their suggestions, but these suggestions are not drawn from how we once were.
As might be expected, a fairly large amount of the material concerns the problems in our schools. Again, however, none of the proposals really are generated by looking at how we once taught students in the United States. Previous generations were taught all about the explorers of North America and these explorers were largely treated as heroes. There was no mention of the Vikings or of the slaughter of Native Americans. Cowboys were the heroes and Indians were the enemies. Students were "tracked" so that the best students got the best teachers. Students with handicaps were not main streamed. Students ate at home. There were no social workers in the schools and certainly no police. That used to be us. Should we go back to the agenda to make our schools more competitive?
When you try to solve very difficult problems by picking out certain things from the past while ignoring other important things, then you end up with a book that presents the political views of the authors. If you are 100% behind the choice of antidotes that authors choose, then you will like this book. If you haven't read the two previous books, then there is good information that you should not ignore. If you have read the two previous books and you are skeptical about Friedman's political ideology, then I consider this book a waste of time.
Expected more, after enjoying The World is Flat and Hot, Flat and Crowded. Their big idea for what it's going to take to turn the battleship is, in my view, unrealistic.
What happened to AMERICA?????? To think that I was part of this, makes my vote more important.
This was my 1st exposure to Thomas Friedman and I found it interesting up until he holds California up as a 'good' example. Then he absolutely swallows 'global warming' as a proven science and ridicules any doubters as 'unscientific'.
He lost all credibility and I used the rest of the book as a sleep aid. (It worked!)
Did you know they have this thing call the Internet now? Did you know it has revolutionized the way people work in many industries? If your awareness of the world around you is senile grandmother level, you too may be amazed at hour after hour of Friedman and Mandelbaums' endless litany of changes the digital revolution has brought. Friedman, in a desperate attempt to finally distinguishing himself as more then a poor man's Paul Krugman, revises his simi-obvious observations in The World is Flat into completely obvious monotony. Did you know they had the Internet on cell phones now? What will they think of next.
They might try reading up on economic history from all authoritative sources and not just those that reinforce their own world view.
Good voice and pace of reading the book. Good changes of voice for quotes.
Anger and disappointment
Friedman and Mandelbaum advocate the status quo plus further intrusion of government into the factors of production. Rather than a lady justice wearing a blind as she weighs the disputes involving the individual rights of the owners of land, labor, and capital, they see her as a partner telling the individuals what to do with their land, labor, and capital. Of course the budget for dispute resolution pales to the budget for government controlled production. The historical references are inaccurate and omit any examples of the private sector doing better at wealth creation than government ???partnerships.???
I'm a Joyful Vegan/Artist-Photographer who has become passionately addicted to Audible.
Social Security is something I paid for. Having paid for it for all of my working life I'm not willing to give it up at this late date.
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