Extreme Book Review: The Post-American World

by Darwin on March 30, 2009

This is the first in a series of Extreme Reviews in which I’ll provide a rapid-fire review of a book or service in less than 500 words, rather than bog you down with a dissertation on the minutiae.

GRADE: B


AUTHOR: FAREED ZACKARIA

PREMISE: As America eclipsed Great Britain as the world’s sole economic and military superpower a few hundred years ago, we’re now facing the inevitable – we will lose the throne.  The author considers topics from education inequality with the rest of the world to the implications of a flat world where the US competitive edge is degrading.

THE GOOD: The book is well written and puts into perspective the gradual decline of the US as sole superpower.  Our arrogance or sheer ignorance of how we still do things versus how the rest of the world views us is exposed in painstaking detail.  He routinely dispenses his share of irony through the book – example:

The demise of the American working class (outsourcing) is actually a result of American ingenuity.

THE BAD: In some parts of the book, it reads as if it’s a recap of last year’s major headlines and news items on global business issues.  Perhaps I read too much of The Economist and BusinessWeek or the book just didn’t have enough unique, lesser-known examples to draw from.

THE UGLY: While the author forces you to consider factors driving the decline of the US from a different perspective, some of the book seems contrived and predictable, as if you can predict the premise of the closing paragraph one page into the chapter.

THE VERDICT: Definitely worth a read for those who are concerned/interested in outsourcing, global competition and business in general.  However, before (or instead of) reading this, I’d probably first endorse these books, which permanently changed my outlook on the world and my career:

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 CanadianInvestor March 31, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Friedman’s book is the only thing that is flat. The world is round. His metaphor is as ridiculous as the reality of the world vs the ancient misconception that the world is flat. Increasing globalisation is a very long term, gradual trend that has not suddenly come upon us. Better books are Tapscott’s Wikinomics and especially Robert Wright’s Non-Zero Sum.

CanadianInvestor’s last blog post..Corporate Bonds for an RRSP or TFSA in 2009 – an Opportunity?

[Reply]

2 Darwin March 31, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Did you read the book? There’s no disputing that the current generation of workers faces a much different reality than past generations. Did anyone in your parents’ generation lose a job to someone in India doing the same job over the internet at a fraction of the cost? Now, we all know people that have. I mean, the book’s a few years old now and perhaps a bit dated in that it’s now even easier than it was a few years ago for me to outsource my administrative life to someone at 1/10 the cost to do everything from scan/review my email to write web pages for me to reading xrays at a fraction of the cost of a rad tech in North America or preparing tax returns for nickels on the dollar compared to what I’m paying an accountant here. With the advent of high speed internet access virtually everywhere, a wide spread between local and virtual costs and a little innovation, anything is possible now. If you haven’t geared yourself up for a career in a flat world, look out; that’s all I can say.

[Reply]

3 beyrx April 2, 2009 at 10:55 am

Hello again-

Gotta say I do enjoy your book reviews. I orignally bought “The World is Flat” based on your reccomendation over a year ago and was very glad I did. Keep up the good work!

[Reply]

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