Top positive review
A Clear Explanation of How We Got to Where We Are
Reviewed in the United States on November 23, 2016
Friedman offers a compelling, well-researched paradigm for understanding how the US arrived at its current level of dysfunctional politics. His hypothesis, restated throughout the book is that the US, as well as the rest of the planet, is being subjected to three relentless, ineluctable forces: the exponential development of technology, the forces of globalization and concomitant interdependence, and severe climate change, all of which have altered forever the complacent stability to which we had become accustomed. He argues further that the pace of change (speed) as well as the rate of change (exponential) are exceeding in many cases, the capacity of individuals and societies to adapt to change, while politicians--glued to their own narrow ideologies and even narrower political bases--provide only simplistic, quixotic and ultimately futile responses.
Though I could have done without the plethora of folksy interjections, as a whole the argument made is compelling, well documented and (for me) fairly frightening. In the closing chapters of the book, Friedman offers several common sense, pragmatic solutions and manages to convey a sense of optimism that eventually, the world will be capable of adapting in a manner that improves global civilization. Given the facts and strong arguments made in preceding chapters however, the optimism seems unfounded;; particularly given the lack of political will for the heterodox approach that the author justifiably feels that circumstances require.
I've given this work five stars because it has helped me, more than any other source I've read, to develop a reasonably clear understanding of how we got to where we are. I do not share the author's optimism, but I appreciate the clarity of thought, the ability to synthesize what appear to be disparate trends, and finally, the insightful, cogent analyses.