I know, a few of the flatteners may not be intuitively obvious when you just read the title. I just need you to trust me; there are some terrific insights as to how innovative companies like Microsoft, UPS (yes, I said UPS!), Google, and Wal-Mart are redefining the world landscape and bringing the ends of the earth closer together. Following is a well-done review written by a colleague at Amazon:
Thomas L. Friedman is not so much a futurist, which he is sometimes called, as a presentist. His aim in The World Is Flat, as in his earlier, influential Lexus and the Olive Tree, is not to give you a speculative preview
of the wonders that are sure to come in your lifetime, but rather to get you caught up on the wonders that are already here. The world isn't going to be flat, it is flat, which gives Friedman's breathless narrative much of its
urgency, and which also saves it from the Epcot-style polyester sheen that futurists--the optimistic ones at least--are inevitably prey to.
What Friedman means by "flat" is "connected": the lowering of trade and political barriers and the exponential technical advances of the digital revolution that have made it possible to do business, or almost anything else, instantaneously with billions of other people across the planet. This in itself should not be news to anyone. But the news that Friedman has to deliver is that just when we stopped paying attention to these developments--when the dot-com bust turned interest away from the business and technology pages and when 9/11 and the Iraq War turned all eyes toward the Middle East--is when they actually began to accelerate. Globalization 3.0, as he calls it, is driven not by major corporations or giant trade organizations like the World Bank, but by individuals: desktop freelancers and innovative startups all over the world (but
especially in India and China) who can compete--and win--not just for low-wage manufacturing and information labor but, increasingly, for the highest-end research and design work as well. (He doesn't forget the "mutant supply chains" like Al-Qaeda that let the small act big in more destructive ways.)
Friedman has embraced this flat world in his own work, continuing to report on his story after his book's release and releasing an unprecedented hardcover update of the book a year later with 100 pages of revised and expanded material. What's changed in a year? Some of the sections that opened eyes in the first edition--on China and India, for example, and the global supply chain--are largely unaltered. Instead, Friedman has more to say about what he now calls "uploading," the direct-from-the-bottom creation of culture, knowledge, and innovation through blogging, podcasts, and open-source software. And in response to the pleas of many of his readers about how to survive the new flat world, he makes specific recommendations about the technical and creative training he thinks will be required to compete in the "New Middle" class. As before,
Friedman tells his story with the catchy slogans and globe-hopping anecdotes that readers of his earlier books and his New York Times columns know well, and he holds to a stern sort of optimism. He wants to tell you how exciting this new world is, but he also wants you to know you're going to be trampled if you don't
keep up with it. A year later, one can sense his rising impatience that our popular culture, and our political leaders, are not helping us keep pace.
Again, a truly terrific and insightful book. Can't recommend it more highly.
John Adams - 2nd United States President (1797-1801)
Was very bright and had no patience for people who weren't bright enough to see things his way
Abigail Adams was very charming and tactful, but was a flaming liberal who wanted to free the slaves, educate the children, declare war on France, and tax whiskey
Won the presidency by only three electoral votes
John, a Federalist, and his Vice President Thomas Jefferson, a Republican, rarely agreed on anything
Thomas Jefferson - 3rd United States President (1801-1809)
Had a thirty-five year affair with his slave Sally Hemings
Spent most of his life building and un-building Monticello as if it was a set of Legos
Was very fond of gardens and architecture and wrote Notes on the State of Virginia
Invented the pedometer, the dumbwaiter, the lazy susan, and the swivel chair
James Madison - 4th United States President (1809-1817)
Was sometimes called "Little Jemmy" - he was five-foot-four and a hundred pounds
Was introduced to Dolley by Aaron Burr after her first husband died
Dolley didn't care about politics, she was the ultimate social director and threw marvelous parties
Was anxious and shy while in the White House; but blossomed at his house in Montpelier that he called "a squirrel's jump from heaven"
James Monroe - 5th United States President (1817-1825)
Despite being an honest gentleman, was known as a deep, even an enthusiastic, drinker
John Adams called him "dull, heavy, and stupid"
He was both Secretary of State and Secretary of war under James Madison
His administration was called the "Era of Good Feeling" because there was only one political party
John Quincy Adams - 6th United States President (1825-1829)
Was the only President to publish a book of poems
Was called everything from "doggedly and systematically repulsive" to "an intellectual's intellectual"
Only received thirty percent of the popular vote in a race with four candidates (including Andrew Jackson who got forty-three percent). None received a majority so decision went to the House of Representatives who ultimately decided on JQ as president, infuriating the Jacksonians
He always got up before dawn, walked four or five miles, then took off his clothes and went for a swim in the Potomac. A lady reporter he had been dodging saw him in the Potomac and sat down on his clothes and
wouldn't budge until he gave her an interview.
Andrew Jackson - 7th United States President (1829-1837)
Was six-foot-one, weighted 140 pounds, and fought in over one hundred duels
Married wife Rachel though she wasn't yet divorced from her first husband, then had to marry again after the divorce was final
Hated John Quincy Adams, threw out everything in the White House that reminded him of JQ, and fired everyone who voted for JQ
His entire cabinet resigned, persuaded by Martin Van Buren, over the "Eaton Malaria" - Secretary of War John Eaton's wife Peggy was a tavern keeper's daughter and of questionable virtue
Martin Van Buren - 8th United States President (1837-1841)
Was called "The Little Magician" because everything he touched turned to gold, (or votes)
Was later called "Petticoat Pet" because of his apathy over the depression.
The Whigs, made up of assorted anti-Jacksonians, called him "Martin Van Ruin".
He never vetoed a single bill or offered any opinions except Jackson's
Was accused of living a very high lifestyle in the White House while the rest of the country suffered through a depression
William Henry Harrison - 9th United States President (1841-1841)
Was the hero of the Battle of Tippecanoe, where he killed numerous Indians
Was sold as a barefoot boy from the backwoods born in a log cabin, but was really born in a serene and stately brick mansion far grander than the White House
Caught a dreadful cold while standing out at his inauguration which eventually killed him
Only served as President thirty-one days before his death
John Tyler - 10th United States President (1841-1845)
Was the first Vice President to take over from a President who died in office
Had fifteen children; eight with is first wife, Letitia, and seven with his second, Julia
Julia came up with the idea to play "Hail to the Chief" whenever Tyler walked into the room, which continues today
Became a member of the Confederate Congress after his Presidency ended
James K. Polk - 11th United States President (1845-1849)
James and his wife Sarah were pious, didn't drink, didn't dance, didn't play cards, and didn't have children
They worked twelve- or fourteen-hour days locked up together in their office, doing the work of most of his cabinet
Texas, New Mexico, California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and most of Colorado became part of the United States under his Presidency
Died three months after leaving the White House
Zachary Taylor - 12th United States President (1849-1850)
He never voted for anything or anyone and thought politicians were pond scum
He never went to school; his wife taught him to read and write
Right before he died he stuffed himself with ice-cold milk, cherries, and pickled cucumbers, causing some to speculate the milk/pickles concoction contributed to his death
Suspecting he might have been poisoned, he was exhumed recently and had his hair tested for poison; nothing unusual was found.
Millard Fillmore - 13th United States President (1850-1853)
His family was very poor and he was indentured to a wool-carder and cloth-dresser; he didn't get his freedom until he was nineteen years old
Went to school after getting his freedom then later married his first teacher
Was instrumental in opening up free trade, particularly with Japan
Was rejected by his own party, the Whigs, in 1852 and ran again on the Know-Nothing ticket in 1856. He carried only Maryland.
Franklin Pierce - 14th United States President (1853-1857)
Wife Jane was dismal; a religious fanatic who complained about her nerves, hated politics, and hated Washington
First two children died in infancy, third child Benjamin was killed in a train accident; Jane said God took Benjamin on purpose so he wouldn't distract Franklin from his Presidential duties
Was the first President to have a Christmas tree in the White House
During his Presidency, was arrested for running over an old woman with his horse
James Buchanan - 15th United States President (1857-1861)
Had more enemies than a dog has fleas
Viewed by many to be the worst President ever
Wanted to buy Cuba, but Congress wouldn't let him
Did his best to do as little as possible despite the secession of South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas with Jeff Davis leaving the Senate to become President of the new country.
Abraham Lincoln - 16th United States President (1861-1865)
Was six-foot-four, his pants were too short making his feet look even bigger, and carried a floppy black umbrella that wouldn't stay closed
Sometimes got so depressed that he was afraid to carry a pocketknife
Mary Todd was one of the first shopaholics; she shopped till she dropped to battle depression brought on by the death of her son Willie
The Lincoln-Douglas Debates were over the running for a senate seat, not the Presidency
Andrew Johnson - 17th United States President (1865-1869)
Was indentured at age twelve to a tailor; he hated being indentured and ran away
Made all his own clothes to be sure they were made properly
Congress created the Tenure of Office Act, saying the President couldn't do anything without Senate approval under Johnson's term
Was acquitted of impeachment by just one vote
Ulysses S. Grant - 18th United States President (1869-1877)
When Grant went to West Point a clerical error changed his name from Hiram Ulysses to Ulysses S. He was glad because his original monogram (H.U.G) embarrassed him.
Originally wanted to be the Mayor of Galena, Illinois so he could have the sidewalks fixed between his house and the depot
Grant was a poor money manager and later in life got swindled out of every cent he owned
Grant died four days after finishing his memoirs. Mark Twain published them.
Rutherford B. Hayes - 19th United States President (1877-1881)
Mrs. Hayes was referred to as "Lemonade Lucy" because they didn't serve anything fun to drink; Washington Wags said at her parties the water flowed like wine
She started the custom of Easter Monday egg-rolling on the south lawn of the White House
He had such long gray whiskers that they dipped in his suit unless he drew them to one side like a curtain
His most decisive actions in the White House included laying out a croquet lawn and installing a telephone
James Garfield - 20th United States President (1881-1881)
Was first left-handed President and could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other at the same time
Was nominated at the Republican convention even though he wasn't running
Was shot by Charles Guiteau in the back; Charles wanted to be the American consul in Paris and wasn't chosen by Garfield.
Doctors for days tried to get the bullet out and even allowed Alexander Graham Bell to use a special contraption with a coil that would hum when near the bullet. Garfield died ten days later.
Chester A. Arthur - 21st United States President (1881-1885)
Considered a political bottom-feeder and the contented tool of Senator Roscoe Conkling
Turned into an acceptable and honest President
His New York tailor had to hire extra help to keep up with Arthur's insatiable desire for fine clothing
Supported the Pendleton Act of 1883, which enabled people to take civil service exams for many government jobs and keep them regardless of who was elected, freeing up Presidents to do something besides appoint
Grover Cleveland - 22nd United States President (1885-1889), 24th United States President (1893-1897)
Fathered a child whose mother was an alcoholic prostitute named Marie Halpin
Forty-nine year old Grover Cleveland married twenty-one year old Frances Folsom, the daughter of Grover's late law partner
After first administration went back to corporate law and made a fortune on Wall Street
Was only President to serve two disconnected terms and count as two Presidents
Benjamin Harrison - 23rd United States President (1889-1893)
Was the grandson of William Henry Harrison
Bribed voters in New York and Indiana to win election even though Grover Cleveland got one hundred thousand more votes
Harrison's most decisive action was having the White House wired for electricity
Was the first president to watch a professional baseball game; Cincinnati beat Washington 7-4
William McKinley - 25th United States President (1897-1901)
Was walked on because he was too nice
Didn't want the Spanish-American War but was forced into it by Congress; as result United States received Guam, The Philippines, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico
Was shot at close range at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901 by an anarchist named Czolgosz
Doctors spent a week excavating McKinley in search of the bullet, after which he died
Theodore Roosevelt - 26th United States President (1901-1909)
Was a pioneer fitness addict and loved loved boxing, wrestling, tennis, and fencing among other things
Was behind the Republic of Panama's independence and the creation of the Panama Canal
Created the National Park with the calling of a Conservation Conference in Washington
Won a Nobel Peace Prize for helping with the Russo-Japanese peace negotiations
William Howard Taft - 27th United States President (1909-1913)
Was the world's heaviest President; when he sat at his desk he could hardly reach it
Didn't want to be President and said that politics made him sick; wanted to be a Supreme Court justice
Wife Nellie bought a cow to graze on the White House lawn and sent for three thousand cherry trees from Japan planting them in strategic spots
Taft was dull and boring and people were immediately tired of him
Woodrow Wilson - 28th United States President (1913-1921)
When first wife died, he sat by her body for days, wringing his hands. Shortly after his first wife's death, he met and fell in love with Edith Galt and married her soon afterward.
Was a professor, president of Princeton, and governor of New Jersey
Edith Wilson bought a flock of sheep to graze on the White House lawn, then sold the wool and donated the proceeds to the Red Cross
He had such terrible nervous indigestion that he'd bought his own stomach pump and carried it with him wherever he went
Warren G. Harding - 29th United States President (1921-1923)
Was installed as senator to Ohio by powerful Harry Daugherty to be his "puppet" because he looked presidential
His wife Florence was the brains in the operation; she kept close watch on him to ensure he didn't say something stupid and rewrote his speeches for him
Scandals abounded in his administration because of the "friends" he appointed to high positions
He died while he and Florence were on a long train trip across the country. Florence wouldn't let anyone autopsy the body, fueling some unfounded speculation that she may have poisoned him
Calvin Coolidge - 30th United States President (1923-1929)
After Harding died, was sworn into office by his father on his farm in Vermont
His wife Grace was a charming lady who carried a pet raccoon named Rebecca around with her
At one of the congressional breakfasts Cal poured some coffee into his saucer and added a splash of milk. Several guests respectfully did the same. He then put the saucer down on the floor for his dog.
Loved to eat boiled wheat-and-rye in bed while people rubbed Vaseline into his hair
Herbert Hoover - 31st United States President (1929-1933)
Was a Quaker, always worked hard, and kept his files tidy
Was orphaned at the age of nine and schoolchildren were told that he picked potato bugs of the potato plants for a penny a hundred
The Hoovers were paranoid about their privacy; they stopped the long-standing custom of the New Year's open house and wouldn't tell reports what they were doing
Made "The Star Spangled Banner" our national anthem
Franklin Delano Roosevelt - 32nd United States President (1933-1945)
Diagnosed with Polio in 1921 at age thirty-nine
Had a wandering eye and had affairs with several women while married to Eleanor
Eleanor was referred to as "Public Energy Number One" because she was so busy
Instituted Social Security, deeply disturbing conservatives because "people will quit their jobs at once and just sit around waiting to be sixty-five to collect"
Harry S Truman - 33rd United States President (1945-1953)
Became President after only eighty-three days as Vice President
As a child, wanted to be a professional musician when he grew up
Had to move across the street to the Blair House because the White House was collapsing due to a heavy third floor added in 1927
No one expected Truman to win the 1948 election, except Truman himself. He got the ultimate last laugh when the Chicago Tribune held up a "Dewey Elected" newspaper.
Dwight David Eisenhower - 34th United States President (1953-1961)
Considered the Presidency a well-deserved retirement; was fond of golf, bridge, and canasta
Mamie painted the interior of the White House pink, rarely got up before noon, and could pitch a fit if things weren't done just right
He set up America's interstate highway system
Was very popular and could have served a third term, but the twenty-second amendment passed in 1951 prevented Ike from serving past two terms
John Fitzgerald Kennedy - 35th United States President (1961-1963)
Was known by some friends as "Jack the Zipper"
Grew up in the shadow of his older brother Joe Jr.
Instituted the Peace Corps
Daughter Caroline called him Silly Daddy; son John called him Foo-Foo Head; Jackie called him Bunny
Lyndon Baines Johnson - 36th United States President (1963-1969)
Was the only President ever sworn in on an airplane in Texas
Started the Department of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development
It took his parents three months to come up with his name, and his wife and daughters were called Lady Bird, Lynda Bird, and Luci Baines so they all could have LBJ initials
As President, he handed out ten-gallon hats to visitors
Richard Milhous Nixon - 37th United States President (1969-1974)
As a debater in grammar school his main theme was why he hated girls
Lost bid for Presidency in 1960 to Kennedy, then went home to California and lost bid for Governor before winning Presidency against Hubert Humphrey in 1968
In 1972, Nixon's people formed a committee called CREEP - Committee to Re-Elect thE President; an unfortunate acronym <g>
Recorded virtually every word he said, which proved to be his ultimate downfall with Watergate
Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. - 38th United States President (1974-1977)
Was not elected to either the Vice Presidency or Presidency; was chosen by Nixon and then replaced him after he resigned from office
Lyndon Johnson called him "the only man I ever knew who can't fart and chew gum at the same time"
His birth name was Leslie Lynch King Jr. after his father, then after his mother divorced his father was renamed after his mother's new husband
Had millions of round buttons with "W.I.N" (Whip Inflation Now) made up and he promised that if people wore them every time they went in public prices would stop going up
Jimmy Carter - 39th United States President (1977-1981)
Jogged in black socks
When his father died he left him a peanut farm to manage
Did nothing to free the hostages in Iran, who were held for four hundred and forty four days
Lost thirty pounds while in the White House from worrying and working late
Ronald Reagan - 40th United States President (1981-1989)
Was known as The Great Communicator
Started out as a New Deal Democrat and changed to Republican after the Red scare hit Hollywood
Was shot by John Hinckley; in the hospital he quoted Jack Dempsey saying, "Honey, I forgot to duck"
When the Professional Air Traffic Controllers said their jobs were making them crazy and went on strike, Reagan outlawed their union, fired them all, and replaced them with inexperienced controllers
George Herbert Walker Bush - 41st United States President (1989-1993)
In World War II flew fifty-eight combat missions as a bomber pilot and won the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in action
His family and oldest friends called him "Poppy"
Threw up on the Japanese Prime Minister at an official dinner
Became the anti-nutrition President after he declared that he hated broccoli
William Jefferson Clinton - 42nd United States President (1993-2001)
The press called him "Bubba"
In June 2000 he became the first American President to receive the revered Charlemagne Peace Prize in Europe and get proclaimed an honorary European
Was impeached by the House, but was voted down by the Senate
At the end of his term, pardoned some real scum including Marc Rich, a stock swindler who'd left the country to avoid paying taxes. Coincidentally <g>, his ex-wife donated money to the Clinton library.
George W. Bush - 43rd United States President (2001-2009)
Was known in college and afterward as an "obnoxious drunk" and was arrested for drunk driving before finding God at age 40
Wife Laura was an elementary school teacher and librarian
Was an exercise fanatic, running six days a week and taking a treadmill on Air Force One
Popularly known as a Texan, was actually raised in Connecticut and didn't move to Texas until well after college
Barack Obama - 44th United States President (2009-)
He collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics
He promised Michelle he would quit smoking before running for president – he didn't
His desk in his Senate office once belonged to Robert Kennedy
He is left-handed – the sixth post-war president to be left-handed