Delway Burton's Reviews > That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back

That Used to Be Us by Thomas L. Friedman
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's review
Oct 20, 2011

really liked it

A perceptive and informative book, while at the same time frightening. Tom Friedman (forget his liberal bent) is a rational and broad-based writer. His access to sources is unique and he is a keen observer, mixing both statistics and anecdotes. If anything he should be faulted for what he leaves out. The book is an analysis of how the good old USA got into this mess. Firstly this is not the first time the nation has been threatened. The analysis of the present is discouraging as long term problems have grown to reach a monumental scale. The reader is left to question whether they represent insurmountable burdens or by way of some national pick-me-up they can be cured. The examination of the facts, especially the workings of our government over the past 60 years is fact based and very accurate, and to some degree the opinions expressed about our present predicament ring true, but if anything the authors are too optimistic. After reading about our failed education system, our dysfunctional government, our lack of a national ethic, our global failure to compete, our abandonment of science, and global warming, one feels overwhelmed. When 50% of the population pay no income tax and 80+ million entitlement checks are mailed each month and the long term unemployed reaches 25-30% in some communities, one is left with the feeling that the shit has hit the fan. I would like to find a way over my cynicism, but this read has only increased it.
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