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: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back

by Thomas L. Friedman, Michael Mandelbaum

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A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

A Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2011

In That Used to Be Us, Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum analyze the four major challenges we face as a country—-globalization, the revolution in information technology, chronic deficits, and our pattern of energy consumption—-and spell out what we need to do now to preserve American power in the world. The end of the Cold War blinded the nation to the need to address these issues seriously, and China's educational successes, industrial might, and technological prowess in many ways remind us of a time when "that used to be us." But Friedman and Mandelbaum show how America's history, when properly understood, offers a five-part formula for prosperity that will enable us to cope successfully with the challenges we face. That Used to Be Us is both a searching exploration of the American condition today and a rousing manifesto for American renewal.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594135569
Publisher: Gale Group
Publication date: 09/04/2012
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 696
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Thomas L. Friedman is an internationally renowned author, reporter, and columnist—the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes and the author of several bestselling and award winning books, among them From Beirut to Jerusalem, The World Is Flat, Thank You for Being Late and Hot, Flat, and Crowded.


Washington, D.C. area

Date of Birth:

July 20, 1953

Place of Birth:

Minneapolis, Minnesota


B.A. in Mediterranean Studies, Brandeis University, 1975; M.A. in Modern Middle East Studies, Oxford University, 1978

Read an Excerpt

That Used To Be Us

How America Fell Behind in the World it Invented and How we can Come Back

By Thomas L. Friedman, Michael Mandelbaum


Copyright © 2011 Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-9511-5


If You See Something, Say Something

This is a book about America that begins in China.

In September 2010, Tom attended the World Economic Forum's summer conference in Tianjin, China. Five years earlier, getting to Tianjin had involved a three-and-a-half-hour car ride from Beijing to a polluted, crowded Chinese version of Detroit, but things had changed. Now, to get to Tianjin, you head to the Beijing South Railway Station — an ultramodern flying saucer of a building with glass walls and an oval roof covered with 3,246 solar panels — buy a ticket from an electronic kiosk offering choices in Chinese and English, and board a world-class high-speed train that goes right to another roomy, modern train station in downtown Tianjin. Said to be the fastest in the world when it began operating in 2008, the Chinese bullet train covers 115 kilometers, or 72 miles, in a mere twenty-nine minutes.

The conference itself took place at the Tianjin Meijiang Convention and Exhibition Center — a massive, beautifully appointed structure, the like of which exists in few American cities. As if the convention center wasn't impressive enough, the conference's co-sponsors in Tianjin gave some facts and figures about it ( They noted that it contained a total floor area of 230,000 square meters (almost 2.5 million square feet) and that "construction of the Meijiang Convention Center started on September 15, 2009, and was completed in May, 2010." Reading that line, Tom started counting on his fingers: Let's see — September, October, November, December, January ...

Eight months.

Returning home to Maryland from that trip, Tom was describing the Tianjin complex and how quickly it was built to Michael and his wife, Anne. At one point Anne asked: "Excuse me, Tom. Have you been to our subway stop lately?" We all live in Bethesda and often use the Washington Metrorail subway to get to work in downtown Washington, D.C. Tom had just been at the Bethesda station and knew exactly what Anne was talking about: The two short escalators had been under repair for nearly six months. While the one being fixed was closed, the other had to be shut off and converted into a two-way staircase. At rush hour, this was creating a huge mess. Everyone trying to get on or off the platform had to squeeze single file up and down one frozen escalator. It sometimes took ten minutes just to get out of the station. A sign on the closed escalator said that its repairs were part of a massive escalator "modernization" project.

What was taking this "modernization" project so long? We investigated. Cathy Asato, a spokeswoman for the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, had told the Maryland Community News (October 20, 2010) that "the repairs were scheduled to take about six months and are on schedule. Mechanics need 10 to 12 weeks to fix each escalator."

A simple comparison made a startling point: It took China's Teda Construction Group thirty-two weeks to build a world-class convention center from the ground up — including giant escalators in every corner — and it was taking the Washington Metro crew twenty-four weeks to repair two tiny escalators of twenty-one steps each. We searched a little further and found that WTOP, a local news radio station, had interviewed the Metro interim general manager, Richard Sarles, on July 20, 2010. Sure, these escalators are old, he said, but "they have not been kept in a state of good repair. We're behind the curve on that, so we have to catch up ... Just last week, smoke began pouring out of the escalators at the Dupont Circle station during rush hour."

On November 14, 2010, The Washington Post ran a letter to the editor from Mark Thompson of Kensington, Maryland, who wrote:

I have noted with interest your reporting on the $225,000 study that Metro hired Vertical Transportation Excellence to conduct into the sorry state of the system's escalators and elevators ... I am sure that the study has merit. But as someone who has ridden Metro for more than 30 years, I can think of an easier way to assess the health of the escalators. For decades they ran silently and efficiently. But over the past several years — when the escalators are running — aging or ill-fitting parts have generated horrific noises that sound to me like a Tyrannosaurus Rex trapped in a tar pit screeching its dying screams.

The quote we found most disturbing, though, came from a Maryland Community News story about the long lines at rush hour caused by the seemingly endless Metro repairs: "'My impression, standing on line there, is people have sort of gotten used to it,' said Benjamin Ross, who lives in Bethesda and commutes every day from the downtown station."

The National Watercooler

People have sort of gotten used to it. Indeed, that sense of resignation, that sense that, well, this is just how things are in America today, that sense that America's best days are behind it and China's best days are ahead of it, have become the subject of watercooler, dinner-party, grocery-line, and classroom conversations all across America today. We hear the doubts from children, who haven't been to China. Tom took part in the September 2010 Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) meeting in San Jose, California. As part of the program, there was a "School of the Future Design Competition," which called for junior high school students to design their own ideal green school. He met with the finalists on the last morning of the convention, and they talked about global trends. At one point, Tom asked them what they thought about China. A young blond-haired junior high school student, Isabelle Foster, from Old Lyme Middle School in Connecticut, remarked, "It seems like they have more ambition and will than we do." Tom asked her, "Where did you get that thought?" She couldn't really explain it, she said. She had never visited China. But it was just how she felt. It's in the air.

We heard the doubts about America from Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, in his angry reaction after the National Football League postponed for two days a game scheduled in Philadelphia between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings — because of a severe snowstorm. The NFL ordered the games postponed because it didn't want fans driving on icy, snow-covered roads. But Rendell saw it as an indicator of something more troubling — that Americans had gone soft. "It goes against everything that football is all about," Rendell said in an interview with the sports radio station 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia (December 27, 2010). "We've become a nation of wusses. The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything. If this was in China, do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked, and they would have been doing calculus on the way down."

We read the doubts in letters to the editor, such as this impassioned post by Eric R. on The New York Times comments page under a column Tom wrote about China (December 1, 2010):

We are nearly complete in our evolution from Lewis and Clark into Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam. We used to embrace challenges, endure privation, throttle our fear and strike out into the (unknown) wilderness. In this mode we rallied to span the continent with railroads, construct a national highway system, defeated monstrous dictators, cured polio and landed men on the moon. Now we text and put on makeup as we drive, spend more on video games than books, forswear exercise, demonize hunting, and are rapidly succumbing to obesity and diabetes. So much for the pioneering spirit that made us (once) the greatest nation on earth, one that others looked up to and called "exceptional."

Sometimes the doubts hit us where we least expect them. A few weeks after returning from China, Tom went to the White House to conduct an interview. He passed through the Secret Service checkpoint on Pennsylvania Avenue, and after putting his bags through the X-ray machine and collecting them, he grabbed the metal door handle to enter the White House driveway. The handle came off in his hand. "Oh, it does that sometimes," the Secret Service agent at the door said nonchalantly, as Tom tried to fit the wobbly handle back into the socket.

And often now we hear those doubts from visitors here — as when a neighbor in Bethesda mentions that over the years he has hired several young women from Germany to help with his child care, and they always remark on two things: how many squirrels there are in Washington, and how rutted the streets are. They just can't believe that America's capital would have such potholed streets.

Frustrated Optimists

So, do we buy the idea, increasingly popular in some circles, that Britain owned the nineteenth century, America dominated the twentieth century, and China will inevitably reign supreme in the twenty-first century — and that all you have to do is fly from Tianjin or Shanghai to Washington, D.C., and take the subway to know that?

No, we do not. And we have written this book to explain why no American, young or old, should resign himself or herself to that view either. The two of us are not pessimists when it comes to America and its future. We are optimists, but we are also frustrated. We are frustrated optimists. In our view, the two attitudes go together. We are optimists because American society, with its freewheeling spirit, its diversity of opinions and talents, its flexible economy, its work ethic and penchant for innovation, is in fact ideally suited to thrive in the tremendously challenging world we are living in. We are optimists because the American political and economic systems, when functioning properly, can harness the nation's talents and energy to meet the challenges the country faces. We are optimists because Americans have plenty of experience in doing big, hard things together. And we are optimists because our track record of national achievement gives ample grounds for believing we can overcome our present difficulties.

But that's also why we're frustrated. Optimism or pessimism about America's future cannot simply be a function of our capacity to do great things or our history of having done great things. It also has to be a function of our will actually to do those things again. So many Americans are doing great things today, but on a small scale. Philanthropy, volunteerism, individual initiative: they're all impressive, but what the country needs most is collective action on a large scale.

We cannot be pessimists about America when we know that it is home to so many creative, talented, hardworking people, but we cannot help but be frustrated when we discover how many of those people feel that our country is not educating the workforce they need, or admitting the energetic immigrants they seek, or investing in the infrastructure they require, or funding the research they envision, or putting in place the intelligent tax laws and incentives that our competitors have installed.

Hence the title of this opening chapter: "If you see something, say something." That is the mantra that the Department of Homeland Security plays over and over on loudspeakers in airports and railroad stations around the country. Well, we have seen and heard something, and millions of Americans have, too. What we've seen is not a suspicious package left under a stairwell. What we've seen is hiding in plain sight. We've seen something that poses a greater threat to our national security and well-being than al-Qaeda does. We've seen a country with enormous potential falling into disrepair, political disarray, and palpable discomfort about its present condition and future prospects.

This book is our way of saying something — about what is wrong, why things have gone wrong, and what we can and must do to make them right.

Why say it now, though, and why the urgency?

"Why now?" is easy to answer: because our country is in a slow decline, just slow enough for us to be able to pretend — or believe — that a decline is not taking place. As the ever-optimistic Timothy Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics, son of Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver, and nephew of President John F. Kennedy, responded when we told him about our book: "It's as though we just slip a little each year and shrug it off to circumstances beyond our control — an economic downturn here, a social problem there, the political mess this year. We're losing a step a day and no one's saying, Stop!" No doubt, Shriver added, most Americans "would still love to be the country of great ideals and achievements, but no one seems willing to pay the price." Or, as Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, put it to us: "What we lack in the U.S. today is the confidence that is generated by solving one big, hard problem — together." It has been a long time now since we did something big and hard together.

We will argue that this slow-motion decline has four broad causes. First, since the end of the Cold War, we, and especially our political leaders, have stopped starting each day by asking the two questions that are crucial for determining public policy: What world are we living in, and what exactly do we need to do to thrive in this world? The U.S. Air Force has a strategic doctrine originally designed by one of its officers, John Boyd, called the OODA loop. It stands for "observe, orient, decide, act." Boyd argued that when you are a fighter pilot, if your OODA loop is faster than the other guy's, you will always win the dogfight. Today, America's OODA loop is far too slow and often discombobulated. In American political discourse today, there is far too little observing, orienting, deciding, and acting and far too much shouting, asserting, dividing, and postponing. When the world gets really fast, the speed with which a country can effectively observe, orient, decide, and act matters more than ever.

Second, over the last twenty years, we as a country have failed to address some of our biggest problems — particularly education, deficits and debt, and energy and climate change — and now they have all worsened to a point where they cannot be ignored but they also cannot be effectively addressed without collective action and collective sacrifice. Third, to make matters worse, we have stopped investing in our country's traditional formula for greatness, a formula that goes back to the founding of the country. Fourth, as we will explain, we have not been able to fix our problems or reinvest in our strengths because our political system has become paralyzed and our system of values has suffered serious erosion. But finally, being optimists, we will offer our own strategy for overcoming these problems.

"Why the urgency?" is also easy to answer. In part the urgency stems from the fact that as a country we do not have the resources or the time to waste that we had twenty years ago, when our budget deficit was under control and all of our biggest challenges seemed at least manageable. In the last decade especially, we have spent so much of our time and energy — and the next generation's money — fighting terrorism and indulging ourselves with tax cuts and cheap credit that we now have no reserves. We are driving now without a bumper, without a spare tire, and with the gas gauge nearing empty. Should the market or Mother Nature make a sudden disruptive move in the wrong direction, we would not have the resources to shield ourselves from the worst effects, as we had in the past. Winston Churchill was fond of saying that "America will always do the right thing, but only after exhausting all other options." America simply doesn't have time anymore for exhausting any options other than the right ones.

Our sense of urgency also derives from the fact that our political system is not properly framing, let alone addressing, our ultimate challenge. Our goal should not be merely to solve America's debt and deficit problems. That is far too narrow. Coping with these problems is important — indeed necessary and urgent — but it is only a means to an end. The goal is for America to remain a great country. This means that while reducing our deficits, we must also invest in education, infrastructure, and research and development, as well as open our society more widely to talented immigrants and fix the regulations that govern our economy. Immigration, education, and sensible regulation are traditional ingredients of the American formula for greatness. They are more vital than ever if we hope to realize the full potential of the American people in the coming decades, to generate the resources to sustain our prosperity, and to remain the global leader that we have been and that the world needs us to be. We, the authors of this book, don't want simply to restore American solvency. We want to maintain American greatness. We are not green-eyeshade guys. We're Fourth of July guys.


Excerpted from That Used To Be Us by Thomas L. Friedman, Michael Mandelbaum. Copyright © 2011 Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. Excerpted by permission of Picador.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface: Growing up in America 11

Part I The Diagnosis

1 If You See Something, Say Something 19

2 Ignoring Our Problems 38

3 Ignoring Our History 77

Part II The Education Challenge

4 Up in the Air 113

5 Help Wanted 167

6 Homework × 2 = The American Dream 202

7 Average Is Over 268

Part III The War on Math and Physics

8 "This Is Our Due" 309

9 The War on Math (and the Future) 317

10 The War on Physics and Other Good Things 361

Part IV Political Failure

11 The Terrible Twos 417

12 "Whatever It Is, I'm Against It" 469

13 Devaluation 534

Part V Rediscovering America

14 They Just Didn't Get the Word 571

15 Shock Therapy 626

16 Rediscovering America 668

Acknowledgments 687

Reading Group Guide

"It makes no sense for China to have better rail systems than us, and Singapore having better airports than us. And we just learned that China now has the fastest supercomputer on Earth—that used to be us." —President Barack Obama, November 3, 2010

From the skyrocketing federal deficit to plummeting rankings in education, America faces a turbulent future. How did we get to this point? What will it take to make our nation a beacon of innovation and prosperity once again? 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, provide a searching, clear-eyed assessment of the situation, with bold solutions for getting the country back on track. Drawing on in-depth analysis from around the globe, their approach balances evidence from a variety of viewpoints, including the political, entrepreneurial, scientific, and technological sectors. Despite America's woes, the authors argue, our nation's ideals remain strong—strong enough to propel us to a new era of reinvention.

A wake-up call for every American, That Used to Be Us raises the most important questions of our time. We hope this guide will enrich your discussion of Friedman and Mandelbaum's inspiring action plan.

1. The authors begin with recollections of their youth, capturing the economic and political climate of the 1950s and '60s. What does "that used to be us" look like in your family's memories?

2. The book's title comes from remarks President Obama delivered at the time of the 2010 midterm elections, when Republican victories changed the balance of power in Washington. Do you think the typical American voter realizes the importance of global competitiveness, particularly in the realms of technology and infrastructure described in the president's quote?

3. When the authors describe the long-delayed escalator repair in their Washington Metrorail station, what bigger problems do they illustrate? If their story is symbolic, what does it say about the cause of the nation's woes?

4. In chapter 3, "Ignoring Our History," the authors identify five pillars that have supported America's prosperity for more than 230 years: public education, renewal of infrastructure, keeping our doors open to high-aspiring immigrants, federal funding for research and development, and regulatory safeguards on private economic activity. How have these pillars benefited you? How would their erosion harm you?

5. Addressing the unemployment/underemployment crisis, the book emphasizes the need for an adaptable workforce that delivers nothing less than excellence—in which every worker is above average. In your field, what are the greatest challenges in keeping American workers continually trained in new skills and inspired to surpass average expectations?

6. In your opinion, what are the most powerful forces shaping the values of youth culture today? What would it take to reverse the widespread aversion to math and science? What is your twenty-first-century version of Sputnik?

7. When the authors describe the war on math and physics, they capture a society that tried to defy prudent economic principles and ignored the "gravity" that would send the Clinton-era surplus tumbling down into deficit. Do you predict that the nation's "Terrible Twos" are over? Where should federal spending priorities lie?

8. The authors point out that China's recent achievements occurred despite the republic's corruption, noxious pollution, and lack of political freedom. What does this say about global competition? Has democracy become an economic liability?

9. Chapter 14, "They Just Didn't Get the Word," describes such figures as Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America; Robert Stevenson, who found a way to keep Eastman Machine Company based in Buffalo; and scores of college students, military personnel, and other Americans who ignore naysayers and bring enlightenment to the world. What are the common threads in the book's success stories? How could these people's methods help you bring one of your ideas to life?

10. On the flip side, the authors admit that many of the achievements described in chapter 14 came from workers who care more about making a difference than making money. Is that a bad thing? Do low wages matter, as long as meaningful jobs are being created?

11. The authors remind us that tax-rate increases helped build the federal budget surplus, which began to grow in the late 1990s, while Bush tax cuts contributed to the current deficit. Property taxes and state income tax rates have also become a visible part of the equation as local governments try to cope with deficits. How has your tax bill fluctuated throughout your career? Would you be willing to pay higher taxes now, and if so, what would your top priority be in how that additional tax revenue is spent?

12. Discuss the third-party option, particularly a centrist third party that emphasizes moderate solutions. Have you ever voted for a third-party candidate? Is it possible to have a viable party in the twenty-first century that takes no extreme positions?

13. Discuss the book's take on exceptionalism—the idea that America has an exceptional history and therefore an exceptional identity—described in chapter 16, "Rediscovering America." Does exceptionalism help or hinder our success?

14. Revisit the Tocqueville letter that appears in chapter 15, "Shock Therapy." If you were to envision a happy ending that defies Tocqueville's dire observations, what would it look like? What would the ideal American future hold for the next generation?

15. Discuss That Used to Be Us in comparison to other books by Thomas L. Friedman or Michael Mandelbaum that you've read. How has their role as "frustrated optimists" evolved over the last decade?

Guide written by Amy Clements / The Wordshop, Inc.

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That Used to Be Us 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 71 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The hardest part of reading this book was setting aside preconceived notions in order to fairly analyze what Friedman and Mandelbaum clearly lay out. The authors stick fairly close to centrist ideas though some political leanings come through in their choice of examples and descriptions. While the presentation of problems and solutions are the opinions of the authors, they come across in an honest, credible manner. Whether you agree or disagree with the content, there is no doubt this book is thought provoking and intellectually challenging especially if you are worried about the future of the US.
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
In this self-styled ¿wake-up call and pep talk,¿ award-winning journalist Thomas L. Friedman and professor and foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum offer their diagnosis of what they see as America¿s decline and set out some ideas to arrest its fall. In the first part, they largely succeed, detailing with illustrative, eye-opening stories and studies the depth of the problems Americans have ignored for too long: globalization, technology, national debt and climate change. However, they lose some steam in their prescriptive section where the challenges they outline seem to call for more than a pep talk ¿ although their ideas are worth considering and are great fodder for debates on real issues. Be prepared: Parts of this book make you want to cry; others make you want to scream; some pages do both. getAbstract suggests this bestseller to those in education, business and the public sector who want to understand the magnitude of America¿s challenges before rolling up their sleeves and getting to work on solutions.
fred1924 More than 1 year ago
Comments about Friedman & Mandelbaum’s book titled: “That used to be us” Much of the book describes the severe problems of our economy, our politics, industry and educational system. At the same time, much space is devoted to well known USA accomplishments in the past, and rightfully so. Space is also devoted to how often foreign people do a much better job today than Americans in areas such as education and economic growth, not to forget financial management. All true. The authors’ dearest wishes are for America to learn from their observations and in particular accept the fact that in their view of the modern world it would be essential for the USA to make the Government, much more of a real partner in business to become broadly competitive again. Clearly, that last part might cause very serious problems with those who believe that as little government as possible is preferable. Government should be supportive of a free market economy but not a competitor and player. Since Government assets and power greatly exceeds the business community’s resources it would not take long for us to end up like any other socialist Republic in the world. That’s not how we got to be who we are. Many people today, unfortunately, are not aware of it. Furthermore and unfortunately, the authors appear to be unqualified in matters of general physics and particularly in their attempt to make green energy and other hair-brained energy schemes basic elements of their recommendations to achieve a more promising future. In reality, it puts some of their energy related recommendations off the table. Plentiful and eventually cheap energy, from fossil fuels to nuclear and hydro and geothermal will take care of our future for at least the next 100 years. The lesson here is to let the energy industry keep us in a surplus energy condition and not allow the Government to waste billions of tax payer’s money on ill conceived green energy plots. As a graduate engineer I appreciate that neither carbon dioxide nor ocean acidification is likely to cause us problems for a very long time, if ever. The Chapter on education is the most challenging in my view and describes some of the currently active and innovative approaches to achieving serious improvements in the knowledge levels of teenagers and college students. Without achieving that, college level education is really a waste of money and time and will do nothing to make these youngsters more employable. What disappoints me in the book though is the lack of a common thread running through the issues that contributed to if not caused our current below-par condition as a nation of historically well-educated and clear thinking Americans. In my opinion that thread is our cultural demise during the past 60 years. Ask yourself, where is the spirit of hard work, at a job or in school? Where is the famous American habit of shaking hands on a deal without a 50 page legal document to back it up? Why is it that so few people really know the basics of our national history? This deplorable condition allows schools to teach that American culture is no better or worse than anyone else’s. Which is a preposterous affront to teach, of course, but indicative of our problems. In my view these are some of the aspects that caused our current political, educational and economic condition. The authors recognize our practical national problem and they believe, notwithstanding the contrary evidence, that we still have enough guts, skills, drive, imagination and assets to get us out of this box to a better future. I hope they are right. Frankly, I am not so sure, for the simple reason that the cultural deficiencies at the root of our problem are also the hardest and most challenging aspects of our national existence to repair. The book closes on a positive note but at the same time may mislead us in thinking that our challenge is just “another job” we have to perform to be back in shape again soon instead of the existential attempt it really is at recapturing our critical and unique national dynamics of exceptionalism and the world’s “least offensive policeman”. Frederik Engel 3/4/2012
Jules3 More than 1 year ago
Normally when I read books like this I am snoozing halfway through but this one kept my attention. This book covers both our weaknesses and our strengths but this country is quickly slipping while our political leaders are basically ineffective. America has been able to do great things when our backs are against the wall but we need to wake up...NOW!!! Read this and get inspired!!!
GShuk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I listened to his ¿The World Is Flat¿ and ¿Hot, Flat & Crowded¿ and they were great. This one was just as long but did not seem to have anything new to say, although it was sprinkled with some interesting tidbits. Also, not sure how much I believe in their solutions to solve these issues.
Canadian_Down_Under on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For the most part I enjoyed this latest book by Thomas Friedman. I think they (he and his co-author) make a very good case for what is wrong with the United States now. They talk about the lack of funding for education and R&D, the media, global warming, the polarization of the political parties and how that came to be and how the United States is competing with the world now on a more and more equal basis.The problem I had with the book was they spent very little time talking about solutions unlike Friedman's book, "Hot, Flat and Crowded" where he spent much of the book talking about very innovative green energy solutions. All in all, though, this is a good read which sums up very well the problems faced in the United States in a centrist way. The authors are quite fair in dishing out blame and despite all the problems they lay out they remain optimistic.
AlmaB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm a fan of Thomas Friedman's work ever since I read his book "The Lexus and the Olive Tree". I felt this most recent offering (produced in corroboration with Michael Mandelbaum) is certainly relevant and made some very strong points about America's current state of affairs. All his works build on each other -- like an on-going textbook with revisions -- so there's a lot of old material presented again. Hence, the highest review I can offer is 4 stars. I wonder if any of our politicians and "leaders" have bothered to examine the conclusions drawn in this work; or if they are strictly focused on their own personal & special interest agendas.
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Sits down and waits
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Im quitting rp. Btw...should i get this book? It sounds really good..
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It's fareasier to dissect and analyze Humpty's fall from grace than to put him back together again. The book is a great analysis, but solutions?? Not so much.
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