The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, the runaway bestseller by New York Times columnist Friedman has now been on the paper's Bestseller list for over 85 weeks and has sold over 2 million copies in hardcover alone.
Ronald Aronica and Mtetwa Ramdoo, authors of The World is Flat? – A Critical Analysis of Thomas L. Friedman's New York Times Bestseller, say that Friedman's book is full of factual and argumentative inaccuracies, some deliberate and some as a result of living in the CEO bubble. In their book, Ramdoo and Aronica conduct a step-by-step demolition of nearly all the points that Mr. Friedman makes in his book.
The interview has been split in two parts due to the length. Here's part one. (Part two has now also been published.)
Q) What prompted you to write this book? Were you primarily motivated by wanting to straighten the record? Can you also talk a little more about your background and how this book came about?
RA: With a 30-year career at the intersection of business and technology under my belt, I co-authored a book in 2001, The Death of “E” and the Birth of the Real New Economy. In that book, we described how the technology-enabled globalization of white-collar work would be the new frontier in the world economy. The book is about business transformation as a result of the world being wired and the capability that the Internet provides to interconnect business processes around the globe. It was time to prepare for a whole new way of operating a business. In 2006, I picked up a copy of Friedman’s book and was floored by its superficiality. But what was more shocking to me was the fact that millions of copies had been sold and its influence on leaders in business and government. Indeed, I wanted to set the record straight, for globalization is the greatest reorganization of the world since the Industrial Revolution, and the stories Friedman spun are but a small piece of the overall tapestry of this monumental transformation.
Globalization is a highly complex interaction of forces. Not only does it exhibit integration, it also exhibits disintegration. It is rooted in cooperation — and it is rooted in violence. For some, it represents the triumph of free-market capitalism over communism, ushering in democracy, world peace and universal prosperity; for others, it represents conflict, unbridled greed, deregulated corporate power, and an utter disregard for humanity.
Yet, the person on the street, especially in America, has little clue what globalization is all about. Few have any doubt that change is placing the world under great stress — that it is being turned upside down. And they may suspect that it has to do with the word, globalization, which increasingly appears in the press and other media. But what does it really mean? It would be great if a popularizer, a famous personality or pundit, would explain the many political, economic and social issues connected to the phenomenon of globalization. Desperate for such information, millions of people, including leaders in government and education, have turned to Friedman’s mass market book to gain an understanding of globalization. Unfortunately, they are served up stories about Friedman’s friends, elite CEOs and other personal contacts.