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

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  81,949 Ratings  ·  3,245 Reviews
Updated Edition: Thomas L. Friedman is not so much a futurist, which he is sometimes called, as a presentist. His aim in The World Is Flat, as in his earlier, influential Lexus and the Olive Tree, is not to give you a speculative preview of the wonders that are sure to come in your lifetime, but rather to get you caught up on the wonders that are already here. The world is ...more
Kindle Edition, 690 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2005)
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Jun 10, 2007 Daniel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fireplaces, doors that need stopping, houses without coasters, etc.
Shelves: non-fiction
I tried to plow through this book, but Thomas Friedman is the most brain-dead parrot of the ruling class I have ever known, so I couldn't finish it.

His view of globalization is that now, thanks to the paternalistic global order constructed by US multinational corporations, there is cultural and monetary things of worth out there in the vast unexplored jungles of savagery called "not the United States." As an ahistorical text that ignores the fact that elites have been trading from Occident to an
Riku Sayuj

The World is Not Flat


A big project was started in the post-war world to let countries grow and prosper and compete without using wars to do so. That was the project of globalization. A sub- or lead-project under that was the European Union. Friedman’s famous book was the recent victory cry for the Globalization Project, a chest-thumping if ever there was one!

However, any keen observer would by now have concluded that the project was riddled with flaws. But that is not to say that the vi
Aug 22, 2007 Punk rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Non-Fiction. Friedman explains to us, over and over, how globalization has effectively turned the world into a very very small place -- I was okay with his metaphor of a flat world at first, but over time it started to irritate me. It's neither elegant nor practical. No matter how many virtual conference rooms you have, in a flat world it's still going to take forever to get material goods moved from China to the US, unlike our current round model; later he even starts to talk about how some par ...more
Jan 13, 2008 Rick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The first big mistake I made was deciding to buy the 2.0 edition of the book (updated and expanded). Redundancy is one of the book’s signature features so updating and expanding it only compounds the sins of this feature. My second big mistake was deciding to finish reading it after first running aground about half way through and taking a several month sabbatical to read more worthy books. All right I’m being testy. It wasn’t such a big mistake. Friedman is a smart guy but way too full of himse ...more
Jason Koivu
Apr 18, 2017 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Fucking flat-earthers...Oh wait, that's not what he means? All right, maybe I'll read it."

That was me about five or so years ago when friends kept insisting I read The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman. Finally, when my wife recently bought tickets to a local Friedman talk, I resolved to read the damn thing.

I'm glad I did. It's really good. I'm not saying it's prefect (I'll get to that in a minute), but this is a must read at least for a certain few people with their heads in the clouds. For one
Sep 08, 2008 Matthew rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Detailed, thorough, and very informative. Friedman has a folksy style of journalism that brings complex business and social processes down to earth (though he also has an undue penchant for coining obnoxious phrases, like "glocalize" or "Islamo-Leninist"). Good for getting a grip on the major issues of globalization, including things that affect you every day and you probably know nothing about.

But you have to read between the lines. Friedman is openly supportive of globalization, and his presen
May 01, 2008 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who don't quite get "the internet," businesspeople
Shelves: non-fiction
Holy sh... this book went on and on. And on. The world is flat, oh yes! I see! But how flat is the world again, Mr. Friedman? Tell me once again, exactly how flat is it? Really flat? You don't say!

Maybe it's just me being a grad student for too long, but I prefer my nonfiction books to have a list of references. Perhaps a footnote or two. But this book is just a series of anecdotes with some jargon thrown in (Bangalore...curiosity fl
Sep 12, 2007 JC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I consider myself a bit of a tech-nerd. I love any new technology that is designed to enhance my life. I can't imagine life before my cell phone, my iPod, and my mac. I love flat-panel monitors, digital cameras and satellite radio. As such I considered myself pretty up on the latest technological advances. After reading this book, I realized that not only is technology affecting my life more than I was aware, but it is also changing the way the whole world interacts. This book explains (in layme ...more
Heads in the sand should read this book!: This began as a response to one of the harsh reviews previously posted, but I figured it'd be just as good as a counterbalance in the review section.

Using an approach the layman can understand, Friedman chronicles an event which took place (the flattening of the world, so to speak) right under our noses. He gives an excellent overview of how globalization really HAS helped the world, and he does it via plenty of footnoted research into actual events tha
Jul 29, 2007 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I made it through "A History of God" and "Absalom, Absalom!" but I could not make myself finish this book. I gave it six weeks and 350 pages, but in the end I couldn't take any more.

Friedman's writing is at times brilliant: he is a master synthesizer, taking complicated economic, political, technological, and social phenomena and artfully explaining the connections between them all and what that means for the future of our world. I had to give this book three stars because I did learn a great d
Sep 30, 2007 Timothy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: oblivious baby boomers
I think this book represents what is wrong with a generation of baby boomers. Aside from being verbose and arrogant, it presents obvious observations as a favor to the reader, as if the reader is nowhere near as enlightened as Thomas Friedman is. In the process, he manages to name-drop, and attempts to convince us all the world is better by outsourcing. Every turn of the page made my blood boil to a higher temperature, so after nearly 200 pages, I handed it to Tony and instructed him to sell it. ...more
Nov 19, 2008 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For those about to read this, I commend your bravery. “The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century” is a non-fiction book regarding business, recent history concerning globalization and its implications in the Information Age, and current affairs pertaining to the resulting effect, which Friedman calls the ‘flattening of the world’. This compels me to warn you of the reasons this review will suck; I am not a celebrated (or even competent) book critic, I also do not read many business ...more
Jan 22, 2010 Ron rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current_affairs
I'd like to recommend this book to every American under 35 years old, but I can't. They won't read it. Why? It's a 300-page book crammed into 635 pages.

Friedman had all sorts of good ideas--important stuff--but he's so busy patting himself on the back, telling us what he's going to tell us (or has already told us) and bashing Bush that he just rambles on and on.

Reporters are supposed to give readers the essentials plus enough facts to make the story real and enough anecdotes to make it immediat
The premise is that due in large part to technology the world is becoming flatter. Thomas Friedman clearly thinks this is a great thing with very few drawbacks. In fact, he doesn't address any drawback except in passing (other than the random aside that terrorists can use the Internet to network too) until the penultimate chapter.

This is clearly meant to be a book about how globalization affects the individual. Friedman tries to show this by sharing anecdotes and interviews but nearly every sin
If you haven't been paying attention over the past 10-15 years to the changing of the global marketplace, this book is a must read. Even if you have been aware of it, this book is worth a skim. Friedman explores the technological changes as well as the political values which have caused the US to start losing competitiveness to China and India. Progressive pro-business governments in those two countries (yes even China) have embraced technological change and allowed them to rapidly catch up with ...more
Oct 06, 2008 Andri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Udah setahun punya buku ini.. bacanya gak kelar-kelar.. tebel banget sih.. bisa dijadiin bantal. Sekarang diniatin untuk kelar.. sayang udah dibeli tebel-tebel,.. eh salah.. mahal-mahal..

Dan hasilnya...

Amazing. Dahsyat. Friedman adalah pengamat yang jitu, jeli dan mendalam. Juga seseorang futurist yang kayaknya sih tepat.

Dimulai dengan perenungannya tentang dunia yang datar, saat one day dia bermain golf di satu tempat di India. Saat ia akan memukul, ada yg mengarahkan : “Arahkan ke Microsoft at
Jan 17, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an excellent book. It is a really compelling tale of the current state of the world in regards to free trade, outsourcing, and technology. I’ve never read a book before where I literally found myself agreeing with every point that was made. I thought all of his ideas were spot on.

He has a great way with words and with breaking concepts down into simple terms. But at the same time, still being able to remain technical. I especially liked his “Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention“. He is referr
Dec 13, 2007 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans
Friedman is a journalist, not an economist, so the book is more like an extended magazine article than a scientific study. The information is mostly anecdotal, but the conclusions are sound and important. The long-standing guarantee of a middle class life in America is disappearing, and our sense of entitlement to it needs to catch up. If we truly believe in the principles of capitalist meritocracy that have served America so well, we shouldn't be afraid that more countries get to join the game. ...more
Kiet Huynh
Nửa đầu sách hoàn toàn không để lại ấn tượng.

Tác giả chỉ nêu lại những thứ rất-quen-thuộc trong thời đại mình: chuỗi cung, mạng máy tính, UPS, outsourcing, insourcing, e-commerce... (đúng tinh thần "Tóm lược Lịch sử Thế giới TK XXI" - nhiều quá không nhớ nỗi ^^!).
Người đọc thì chán còn tác giả thì kể như "OMG! I have never seen anything like it before. It's a miracle!" =.=

Những phần còn lại rất hay, bớt cường điệu hơn, đa phần về nước Trung Quờ như cạnh tranh, tài nguyên, chiến tranh, chuỗi cung
Eric Hendrixson
Jun 10, 2010 Eric Hendrixson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is an tedious summary of everything you already know about globalization, wrapped around a series of pet phrases and personal anecdotes that are not poignant, relevant, illustrative, or particularly apt. Perhaps it is because this book is a couple years old now (though mine was an updated edition), but for a book that purports to be so prophetic, this really seems like last century's news. You'd have to be either very isolated or very old to be shocked by any of these dusty observations.

May 23, 2009 Becca rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with flat brains
The flat piece of work was further flattened by the fact that Thomas Friedman thinks to think that his readers' brains are as flat as his metaphor. It's not a particularly complicated concept, but Friedman seems to feel the need to drive it home at least once on every single page. Methinks that the only thing Friedman loves more than his own intellect (any maybe his moustache) is his flat metaphor.

Flatty flatty flat flat flatness flatocity flaticity....

P.S. Flat.
Ahmed Abdelhamid
I'll call it the "Book of impressions". As a reporter writes a business book for the geo-political powers governing our era and the one to come, you see more stories than true scientific analysis. It could be good enough for a layman but not for someone looking for deep/real analysis.

Hopefully I will write a full review soon.
Nandakishore Varma
Did you say "FLAT"?

Oct 06, 2012 Timothy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat has been ubiquitously referenced in the last several years. Friedman is a hack.

Let’s examine his treatise: Technological and economical developments have removed geography as a barrier to productivity, making it possible and necessary for people from all over the globe to work together. Quite frankly, I just stated it better than he did in his entire book. But if you are still tempted to read, The World is Flat, please realize that the cover is all you really
Jan 08, 2010 Rocio rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My cousin bought me this book when I was 17, me thinking it might actually be a "History" book, since it says "History of the 21st century" and I read about 3/4 of the god awful book, until I just could not read it anymore (especially when it got to chapters devoted to advice for businesses in globalization). I think was the first book I just could not finish because it was so awful to read.

First off his book has awful style and use confusing metaphors, you hear about flatteners and that the wor
Jan 08, 2014 Sujeet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
There are some people in the world who are born cynic. They are too fussy about everything they are (most often NOT) expected to express views on. They can give an hour lecture on the emptiness of a half-filled glass and still won't be tired of it.

Now, there is another category of men, who are exactly opposite of them. They are more than required positive. The half filled glass looks to them as a lake of chilled coconut milk. They are at awe at everything and talk excitedly exaggerating everythi
Jul 03, 2007 Justin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Started this book over a year ago and just finished it today. How many times does Friedman have to say "the world is flat" for us to get it? I've never read a book with so many anecdotal and innocuous stories just to prove that the title is far from misnomer.

Most of the content in this book just seemed like common sense after reviewing modern econ theories and histories. This resulted in skimming about 1/4 of the book, mainly the stories that repeatedly resulted in "Hey guess what, here is yet
Jul 05, 2007 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audiobook version while traveling with some quiet folks. So this was about all I heard. And it seemed to me that most of the time I spent listening was hearing the author repeat his thesis, "the world is flat". And each time he would express his amazement and gush about how relevant his revelation is to modern life. It felt like he had a hard time getting over how brilliant he is.

This book could have been compressed into a booklet. And a mighty fine one at that. Had that been d
Satya Welch
Sep 23, 2008 Satya Welch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truth can be a little scary. Friedman has a way of explaining the world as we know it, but more important what we do not understand that we should. A great and though provoking read.
Jun 16, 2008 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Repetitive. Just read the dust jacket. Globalization is leveling the playing field. Example, repeat catch phrase, rinse.
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globalization 5 87 Dec 30, 2008 04:14AM  
too long, pretty unoriginal 3 105 Nov 02, 2008 04:01PM  
You can get this book for free this week 1 112 Jul 30, 2008 11:09AM  
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Thomas Lauren Friedman is an American journalist. He is an op-ed contributor to The New York Times, whose column appears twice weekly and mainly addresses topics on foreign affairs. Friedman is known for supporting a compromise resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, modernization of the Arab world, environmentalism and globalization. He is considered to be a pluralist and most of his comm ...more
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“The ideal country in a flat world is the one with no natural resources, because countries with no natural resources tend to dig inside themselves. They try to tap the energy, entrepreneurship, creativity, and intelligence of their own people-men and women-rather than drill an oil well.” 29 likes
“It has always been my view that terrorism is not spawned by the poverty of money; it is spawned by the poverty of dignity. Humiliation is the most underestimated force in international relations and in human relations. It is when people or nations are humiliated that they really lash out and engage in extreme violence.” 25 likes
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