[By Nic Lindh on Wednesday, 20 September 2006]
Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century outlines the forces that are “flattening” the world—increasing the flow of information and work between far-flung places and cultures and causing global competition in new areas.
It is a lucid and comprehensive overview of the reasons American taxes are being prepared in Bangalore, Egyptian Ramadan candles are being manufactured in China, housewives in Salt Lake City work as airline phone agents from their homes, and certain jobs are leaving the industrialized world and going to developing economies.
That being said, The World Is Flat is not perfect—while an excellent writer, Friedman sometimes gets a bit wordy, diluting the force of his message, and especially the first third of the book is plagued with kowtowing to the brilliance and insight of various CEOs.
A discussion at the end of the book about the rise of Al-Qaeda and their use of the technologies of the flattened world and the forces that are filling the ranks of the terrorists is thought-provoking and chilling.
Contradicting its subtitle, The World Is Flat is not a book about the future, but about what is happening right now, why it is happening, and how it affects you. If you are in the work force right now, you should read it. If you have children, you should definitely read it. If you educate children, it should be mandatory for you to read it.