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April 23, 2012 | Like this article?
By James Kwak I generally don’t bother reading Thomas Friedman. A good friend gave me a copy of The World Is Flat , and I started reading it. Somewhere in the first one hundred pages Friedman has an extended discussion of workflow software (as a key enabler of globalization) and I realized that he knew absolutely nothing about workflow software, so I stopped reading it and gave it away.
Belén Fernández, The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work . London and New York: Verso, 2011. A researcher once carried out an informal study to try to find out whether or not people actually read the books on bestseller lists. To find out, he put envelopes in the reputedly high-selling books.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s metaphorical pile-ups, hollow analyses, and factual inaccuracies have garnered him three Pulitzer Prizes, and frighteningly unchecked power.
Every few years a book comes along that perfectly expresses the moment's conventional wisdom--that says pretty much what everybody else in the chattering classes is saying, but does it in a way that manages to sound fresh and profound. Notable examples are Paul Kennedy's 1989 The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, with its theme of "imperial overstretch", of a United States declining under the weight of its military commitments; or Lester Thurow's 1992 Head to Head , with its vision of a desperate commercial struggle among the advanced industrial nations, and of a United States unable to compete effectively because of its naive faith in free markets. It is already clear that Thomas Friedman's The Lexus and the Olive Tree --which tells the story of the new global economy, and of a United States triumphant because it is the nation best suited to capitalize on that global economy--is the latest in the series.