A powerful account of the state of the world today – where fast food and fanaticism, shopping and civil war go hand in hand.
Half of this new, post-cold-war world is intent on building a better Lexus, on streamlining their societies and economies for the global marketplace, while the other half is locked in elemental struggles over who owns which olive tree, which strip of land.
FACT: no two countries with a McDonald’s have been at war.
FACT: Welsh football club Llansantffraid changed its name to ‘Total Network Solutions’ in exchange for $400,000
FACT: betting on the yen lost George Soros $600 million in a day and altered the course of international diplomacy
No power is strong enough to resist the global markets – the key question, addressed in this book, is how best to accomodate them, how to retain national identity and control over our lives while still linking up to the soulless, faceless global institutions in order to survive economically. There is no bigger or more urgent question facing the world
From the devastation of the Mexican economy to the biscuit that helped alter the course of an election, including jungle fighters, Russian gangsters, Japanese burger chain owners and Middle Eastern spies, to name but a few, Friedman brings the human side of his analysis vividly to life.
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One day in 1992, Thomas Friedman toured a Lexus factory in Japan and marvelled 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-travelled New York Times foreign-affairs columnist, peppers The Lexus and the Olive Tree with stories that illustrate his central theme: that globalisation--the Lexus--is the central organising 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 globalisation 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, Amazon.comReview:
From the reviews of From Beirut to Jerusalem:
‘Jubilantly intelligent – a dashing hybrid of autobiography and journalism. Friedman’s book is a lifeline to the sane, a beacon to the hopeful.’
MICHAEL COREN, Sunday Times
‘Friedman’s approach is both original and thought-provoking… a striking achievement.’
ANDREW GOWERS, Financial Times
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Book Description Farrar, Straus (1999)., 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 2570149