The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman

** Student Review** by Simon Sheaff

Genre:  Non-fiction

Any history textbook will tell you that in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, then Magellan made it all the way around, proving the world not flat, as was once believed, but round. This was a shocking discovery in 16th century Europe, but today, with satellite technology and intense physics, we can prove the world round in any number of ways.

So why would a book, written in the twenty-first century, when the roundness of the earth has been proven beyond doubt, be titled: “The World is Flat”?  And why, on earth, would it become a New York Times best-seller? Has the whole world gone mad?

The title is merely the beginning of a very compelling argument about what kind of a world we live in and how that world operates. Thomas L. Friedman, a Pulitzer Prize winning author and syndicated New York Times columnist, shows us through examples and reason how our world has been fundamentally changed. His basic argument is that we no longer live in a world where interaction is limited to those in your immediate vicinity. With the advent of the internet, cell phones, 3G, 4G, and cable television, our interactions are now unlimited and our business and personal relationships are long-distance by nature.  Our world, he argues, is fundamentally different from any other time in human history. We have changed the we do business, make friends, interact socially and so much more, using technology as our basis. Friedman refers to this as a leveling (or flattening) of the playing field known as geopolitics.

While the facts, reason, and examples are all interesting and convincing, this book may not appeal to the casual reader. It is not light-reading, but rather and in-depth and comprehensive piece of professional literature. It is not an everyday novel, but a case study of how the world around us is shaped.  This book has story-lines, plot and characters, but most only appear for a page or two and don’t compel the reader to read much further. If you are the type of reader, however, who enjoys learning as you read, or enjoys a fact-based and systematic approach to society, this book is one you should look more closely at. I immensely enjoyed it and hope others will too.

Happy reading,

Simon Phillip Thomas Sheaff

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1 Response to “The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman”


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