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

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  100,424 ratings  ·  3,566 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 593 pages
Published April 18th 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (NY) (first published January 1st 2005)
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Starscha Ever heard of this thing called a metaphor? He does not think that the world is LITERALLY flat...
Cristofer Mr. Peter, this book, by Thomas L. Friedman, is not about the Earth being physically flat, as in "we live in the back of a flying-throu-space turtle,"…moreMr. Peter, this book, by Thomas L. Friedman, is not about the Earth being physically flat, as in "we live in the back of a flying-throu-space turtle," but as in "you can literally do everything, from everywhere, natural barriers have dissapeared, and the playground has been flattened, giving everyone almost equal opportunities, but better watch out, it is not all good."

The author dedicates his first pages literally warning people on the fact that he does not mean that the Earth is flat on that sense, but on the fact that the playground is being levelled; he later on comments that, althou there has been flattening, the world is still not as flat as it could be.

Long story short: You should read the book. (less)

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Jim Fonseca
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
An oldie but a goodie; this non-fiction book was popular a few years ago (2005). I read it then and took notes. By “flat” he means super-interconnected through technology, communications, trade, etc. Some notes:

Ten forces that flattened the world:

Removal of the Berlin Wall, 1989
The world wide web starting with Netscape
Work flow software
The ability to upload (local goes global)
Outsourcing – you can run a million dollar business without a single employee
Offshoring – tech guys overseas
Supply chai
Jun 10, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: fireplaces, doors that need stopping, houses without coasters, etc.
No longer using this website, but I'm leaving up old reviews. Fuck Jeff Bezos. Find me on LibraryThing:

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 ju
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
Aug 22, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Jason Koivu
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
"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
Jan 13, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 08, 2008 rated it did not like it
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 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Friedman's basic thesis is that the internet revolution has shifted globalization from the era of multi-national companies to now accessible individuals, thus making the world citizens more egalitarian in terms of their opportunities.
He cites the fall of the Berlin wall/communism as the first step in all this because geopolitically this made the world "whole" as well as the advent of personalized PC (Apple/microsoft-IBM) in which anyone can create their own content. The next step that happens i
Jan 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 29, 2007 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
Jan 22, 2010 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
Sep 30, 2007 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
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I find Thomas Friedman very engaging and rely on his research and opinion very often when making a point in an argument.
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 th
Dec 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
A Man Called Ove
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 A fat 700 page book with a suspicious-looking title "The World is Flat". Often such books are repetitive, with the central idea behind hammered, often with selected datas and twisted interpretation to fit that one central idea. And often the anecdotes/stories can be stale. Not this one though !
This book by 3-time Pultizer prize winning author Friedman was an absolute joy to read. It is lucid, full of relevant and interesting anecdotes, a number of theories and in-depth explanation of cause
Nov 19, 2008 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
Jul 16, 2007 rated it liked it
This book does a good job of describing cataclysmic moments in recent history and how they have democratized everything from news delivery, employment and technology. The author combines interesting corporate tales with anecdotes to keep this tome from being a laborious read.
John Henry
Nov 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
1. While Tom Friedman was in Bangalore, my family and I were in Delhi working with new leaders of campus ministries from India, Thailand, Nepal, Korea, Mexico, Kenya, and the USA. While Tom Friedman was busy writing for the New York Times, he claimed to have been sleeping or “otherwise engaged.” Well, his previous book the “Lexus and the Olive Tree” is what he claims led him off the trail of globalization. Friedman has reduced much of our previous discussion about Modernity to simple stratas of ...more
Michael Perkins
Jun 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: overrated
This book came out when I had already covered Silicon Valley as a journalist and author for several years. He states his thesis in the intro, which struck me as rather obvious.

Learned nothing from the rest of his book. In fact, saw a great deal of plagiarism from other books I'd read and authors I know. That's Friedman's reputation. He comes out a year late with his ideas, which he has borrowed from many others already.

Then he'd go on TV and talk to the clueless Charlie Rose
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
Mar 09, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Satya Welch
Sep 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
David M
Oct 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: guillotine
I fucking hate Thomas Friedman with every fiber of my being.
Alex Telander
Nov 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
THE WORLD IS FLAT: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY (RELEASE 3.0) BY THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Thomas Friedman is a well known columnist for the New York Times and the person to turn to for answer’s about this country’s economy and where it’s headed. The premiere hardcover edition of The World is Flat hit the bookshelves in April of 2006, and in that time it has gone through a second edition in hardcover, and finally a third edition in both paperback and hardcover. Friedman’s excuse for updati ...more
May 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
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.
Eric Hendrixson
Jun 10, 2010 rated it did not like it
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.

Erica Clou
I would have given this at least 4 stars if it had been edited to a reasonable length, with less repetition. Despite what many of the reviewers suggested, it wasn't a fully one-sided account of free trade. Though Friedman's position was mostly pro-free-trade (almost all economists are pro), he did discuss problems and inequalities that arise and acknowledged the complexities of free trade. The book was also pretty thorough discussing not just government policy, but also technology, education, cu ...more
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too long, pretty unoriginal 3 111 Nov 02, 2008 04:01PM  
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Thomas L. Friedman is an internationally renowned author, reporter, and, columnist—the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes and the author of six bestselling books, among them From Beirut to Jerusalem and The World Is Flat.

Thomas Loren Friedman was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on July 20, 1953, and grew up in the middle-class Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. He is the son of Harold and Marga

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