The Flattening of Tom Friedman

Those of you who read the final post on my former site have probably guessed by now that I am not a terribly big fan of New York Times’ columnist, Thomas Friedman.

Originally, I had planned to write up a clever introduction to this review of Friedman’s latest book, The World is Flat. Then, a few sentences into it I realized there is very little worthwhile I could add to what New York Press‘ Matt Taibbi has already written, and I certainly cannot touch his sense of humor.

Knowing that I’ve been bested, I leave you with this small taste of Taibbi’s review, and my suggestion that you read the rest.

I think it was about five months ago that Press editor Alex Zaitchik whispered to me in the office hallway that Thomas Friedman had a new book coming out. All he knew about it was the title, but that was enough; he approached me with the chilled demeanor of a British spy who has just discovered that Hitler was secretly buying up the world’s manganese supply. Who knew what it meant—but one had to assume the worst

“It’s going to be called The Flattening,” he whispered. Then he stood there, eyebrows raised, staring at me, waiting to see the effect of the news when it landed. I said nothing.

It turned out Alex had bad information; the book that ultimately came out would be called The World Is Flat. It didn’t matter. Either version suggested the same horrifying possibility. Thomas Friedman in possession of 500 pages of ruminations on the metaphorical theme of flatness would be a very dangerous thing indeed. It would be like letting a chimpanzee loose in the NORAD control room; even the best-case scenario is an image that could keep you awake well into your 50s…

3 thoughts on “The Flattening of Tom Friedman”

  1. Having no love for Friedman, I find the idea behind his latest book rather interesting. Here’s his problem: Grandpa syndrome. Let me tell you, when I was a boy, to us “Injuns” meant red-skinned natives in the southwest, not the subcontinent! And the electric telephone was all we had to communicate with overseas! Boy times have changed from the lazy hazy days of yore.

    Good writers introduce the readers to something with the power of their idea. Friedman sounds like he’s trying to make up for content with his own excitement and buzzwords. Hence I’ve found it hard to take seriously despite some interest (from what I’ve seen on c-span and Charlie Rose).

  2. “Globalization 2.0” was all over airport newsstands when I went to Japan in January, so I had a look only to be thoroughly disgusted. I had forgotten who the author was until you posted about him, though.

    As someone who’s trying to break into journalism, it’s good to see that you don’t need to have talent to make it.

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