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The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization (1999)

by Thomas L. Friedman

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3,165183,299 (3.55)20
A brilliant investigation of globalization, the most significant socioeconomic trend in the world today, and how it is affecting everything we do-economically, politically, and culturally-abroad and at home. As foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman crisscrosses the globe talking with the world's economic and political leaders, and reporting, as only he can, on what he sees. Now he has used his years of experience as a reporter and columnist to produce a pithy, trenchant, riveting look at the worldwide market forces that are driving today's economies and how they are playing out both internationally and locally. Globalization is the technologically driven expression of free-market capitalism, and as such is essentially an American creation. It has irrevocably changed the way business is done and has raised living standards throughout the world. But powerful local forces-of religion, race, ethnicity, and cultural identity-are in competition with technology for the hearts and minds of their societies. Finding the proper balance between the Lexus and the olive tree is the great game of globalization-and the ultimate theme of Friedman's challenging, provocative book, essential reading for all who care about how the world really works.… (more)
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» See also 20 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Looks at globalization from a social, economic, and cultural perspective and assesses the impact of this trend
  JRCornell | Feb 5, 2019 |
Well, at least the book wears its age on its sleeve...

My feelings on The Lexus and the Olive Tree are very complicated. Personally, I think Friedman does a very good job of conveying (read: teaching) his ideas, and because of this, TLOT is a great teaching tool, especially if you are looking for primer reading on the post-Globalization international system. This is a big point, and although some of what Friedman writes is outdated or bad predictions, this can't be understated.

Then comes the other part. A lot of the negatives are explained in the other comments, so for both our sakes, I'll simply enumerate the main critiques. First, there is a lot of teaching through anecdotes or personal stories. From an empirical standpoint, there are problems with that, but it just comes off as bad tone, even if Friedman gets the job done. Second, there are A LOT of allegories and "fluffed up terms." Friedman toes the line between simile and metaphor with these: its one thing to call investors "long and short horn cattle," as a way of visualizing investors, but referring to investors as long or short horn cattle throughout the book is another thing. It comes off a bit demeaning, and harms the teaching aspect of the book.

Lots of problems, but frankly, there isn't a post-Globalization equivalent yet... ( )
  MarchingBandMan | Mar 15, 2018 |
I picked this early book by Thomas Friedman after reading his latter book 'The World is Flat' fascinated by globalisation and details of its spread. The book enhanced my understanding about globalisation as a new system replacing old Cold War system. Lexus (depicting modern / latest) emerging alongside Olive Tree (ancient / traditional forces of culture and community) is the core theme of the book. Highly detailed book on the subject. ( )
  dimplesrao | Jan 21, 2018 |
I cringe each time I hear of an olive tree being cut down for a wall or development. This is an apt symbol. ( )
  Pat_Gibson | May 28, 2017 |
Commentary on the effects of globalization ( )
  JackSweeney | Jan 10, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
In many ways, this book is fundamentally about Friedman's own journey in trying to understand the world that has changed so radically in the past decade. Indeed, much of the charm and attraction of this book is that it parallels our own journeys of discovery. His experiences we recognize. His stories we have told. His anecdotes we have heard. His awe we share.
 
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A brilliant investigation of globalization, the most significant socioeconomic trend in the world today, and how it is affecting everything we do-economically, politically, and culturally-abroad and at home. As foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman crisscrosses the globe talking with the world's economic and political leaders, and reporting, as only he can, on what he sees. Now he has used his years of experience as a reporter and columnist to produce a pithy, trenchant, riveting look at the worldwide market forces that are driving today's economies and how they are playing out both internationally and locally. Globalization is the technologically driven expression of free-market capitalism, and as such is essentially an American creation. It has irrevocably changed the way business is done and has raised living standards throughout the world. But powerful local forces-of religion, race, ethnicity, and cultural identity-are in competition with technology for the hearts and minds of their societies. Finding the proper balance between the Lexus and the olive tree is the great game of globalization-and the ultimate theme of Friedman's challenging, provocative book, essential reading for all who care about how the world really works.

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