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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization » User review

The Best of the Very Best

  • Aug 13, 2009
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+5
The Lexus and the Olive Tree is a book published just before the turn of the Millennia. It is a book that generally try to explain the globalization and its effects; a concept which was very popular in the early years of the 21st century. The book, written by Thomas L. Friedman, a journalist with the New York Times (I think he's now a columnist; his columns appear twice weekly as with Paul Krugman), is in my opinion, the best of his many works. It is one book which attempts to outline and explain about the intricate relationships between the different countries & regions of the world. It helps me understand the world from a global perspective which is truly necessary for someone who's working in the financial field & for anyone who wishes to strategise his/her businesses. It is also a nonfiction which is surprisingly readable, making complexities simple and ideas thought provoking. 

For the uninitiated in the world economy and politics, it is a book full of wisdom and information . Not only is this book a great boon for those who are dummies in international affairs, it is a wealth of insights for the experts too. What I like best is his ability to make everything that's happening in the world into a unified whole and to see the interlinking parts between each event. That is the biggest asset any reporter could have and hence Friedman's major contribution to the world. Friedman is not only well traveled, he's systematic and interpolatory. The reasons I suspect why his many books turned out to be NY Times Bestsellers over the years!

So, what is globalization? Well, here's a quote from his official site

"Globalization is not just a phenomenon and not just a passing trend. It is the international system that replaced the Cold War system. Globalization is the integration of capital, technology, and information across national borders, in a way that is creating a single global market and, to some degree, a global village."

In his book, Friedman also expounded the theory that should there be an imbalance between the Lexus and the olive tree, the world will be chaotic. I suspect he might be spot on and that the great drama is being played out now. If world and business leaders are not careful, we are beginning to see the tipping point.

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I will not endeavor to write on the intricacies in this book. My writing skill is limited and my reading skill is just a little better. I do distinctly know what is good out there and what is not though :-) And this one is not just good, it is awesome, a must read! Highly Recommended!

The book has been translated to many languages. He has since published another book The World Is Flat. Inspired from his trip to Bangalore & Shanghai in 2004, The World is Flat tries to analyse the major forces in the world that had led to the flattening of the world. You may have heard of it as it's another big hit. Friedman is now focussing on issues about global warming and his most recent book is Hot, Flat, and Crowded.

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What others said about this book:

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"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." 

David Lynch, USA Today
"Friedman writes in straightforward language that should make globalization's complexities comprehensible. There's a great deal of wisdom in this book. Friedman reminds us that the world has grappled with this phenomenon before…At his best, Friedman represent a direct, and enjoyable, challenge to the white-shoed Council on Foreign Relations types who treat international affairs as inherently the province of 'gentlemen' rather than lay-people…This really is an owner's manual for a globalized world." 






The Best of the Very Best

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Quick Tip by . September 29, 2009
Very comprehensive, broad-encompassing book about globalization & international affairs. Highly recommended!
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Sharrie ()
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I'm a traveler at heart & have been nicknamed Travel Queen by friends & colleagues alike. Traveling has been my life passion for the last decade or so. As we enter a new decade, I'm excited … more
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Wiki

One day in 1992, Thomas Friedman toured a Lexus factory in Japan and marveled at the robots that put the luxury cars together. That evening, as he ate sushi on a Japanese bullet train, he read a story about yet another Middle East squabble between Palestinians and Israelis. And it hit him: Half the world was lusting after those Lexuses, or at least the brilliant technology that made them possible, and the other half was fighting over who owned which olive tree.

Friedman, the well-traveled New York Times foreign-affairs columnist, peppers The Lexus and the Olive Tree with stories that illustrate his central theme: that globalization--the Lexus--is the central organizing principle of the post-cold war world, even though many individuals and nations resist by holding onto what has traditionally mattered to them--the olive tree.

Problem is, few of us understand what exactly globalization means. As Friedman sees it, the concept, at first glance, is all about American hegemony, about Disneyfication of all corners of the earth. But the reality, thank goodness, is far more complex than that, involving international relations, global markets, and the rise of the power of individuals (Bill Gates, Osama Bin Laden) relative to the power of nations.

No one knows how all this will shake out, but The Lexus and the Olive Tree is as good an overview of this sometimes brave, sometimes fearful new world as you'll find. --Lou Schuler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable ...

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Details

ISBN-10: 0374185522
ISBN-13: 978-0374185527
Author: Thomas L. Friedman
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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