A brilliant investigation of globalization, the most significant socioeconomic trend in the world today, and how it is affecting everything we do-economically, politically, and culturally-abroad and at home.
As foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman crisscrosses the globe talking with the world's economic and political leaders, and reporting, as only he can, on what he sees. Now he has used his years of experience as a reporter and columnist to produce a pithy, trenchant, riveting look at the worldwide market forces that are driving today's economies and how they are playing out both internationally and locally.
Globalization is the technologically driven expression of free-market capitalism, and as such is essentially an American creation. It has irrevocably changed the way business is done and has raised living standards throughout the world. But powerful local forces-of religion, race, ethnicity, and cultural identity-are in competition with technology for the hearts and minds of their societies. Finding the proper balance between the Lexus and the olive tree is the great game of globalization-and the ultimate theme of Friedman's challenging, provocative book, essential reading for all who care about how the world really works.
"In the Cold War, the most frequently asked question was How big is your missile?' In globalization, the most frequently asked question is How fast is your modem?' " So writes New York Times Foreign Affairs columnist Friedman (author of the NBA-winning From Beirut to Jerusalem), who here looks at geopolitics through the lens of the international economy and boils the complexities of globalization down to pithy essentials. Sometimes, his pithiness slips into simplicity. There's a jaunty innocence in the way he observes that "no two countries that both had a McDonald's had fought a war against each other, since each got its McDonald's." For the most part, however, Friedman is a terrific explainer. He presents a clear picture of how the investment decisions of what he calls the "Electronic Herd"--a combination of institutions, such as mutual funds, and individuals, whether George Soros or your uncle Max trading on his PC--affect the fortunes of nations. The book's title, in its reference to both the global economy (the Lexus) and specific national aspirations and cultural identity (the olive tree), echoes Benjamin Barber's Jihad vs. McWorld. Like Barber, Friedman takes note of what may be lost, as well as gained, in the brave new world: "globalization enriches the consumer in us, but it can also shrink the citizen and the space for individual cultural and political expression." The animating spirit of his book, however, is one of excitement rather than fear. Some of the excitement is the joy a good lecturer feels in making the complex digestible. Writing with great clarity and broad understanding, Friedman has set the standard for books purporting to teach Globalization 101. 100,000 first printing; author tour.