The World Is Flat

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The World Is Flat

A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century

Thomas L. Friedman
First published: 2005

Table of Contents

• Key Figures
• Short Summary (Synopsis)
• Thomas L. Friedman - Biography
• Genre
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Chapter Summaries with Notes / Analysis

• Chapters 1 - 4 - How the World Became Flat
• Chapters 5 - 9 - America and the Flat World
• Chapter 10 - Developing Countries and the Flat World
• Chapter 11 - Companies and the Flat World
• Chapters 12 - 14 - Geopolitics and the Flat World
• Chapter 15 - Conclusion: Imagination

Overall Analysis

• Structure Analysis
• Key Facts
• Important Quotations / Memorable Quotes and Analysis


• Memorable Quotes Quiz
• Vocabulary
• Study Questions/Multiple-Choice Quiz
• Answer Key
• Essay Topics - Book Report Ideas



Nandan Nilekani
CEO of Infosys Technologies Limited, “one of the jewels of the Indian information technology world.” Friedman describes Nilekani as “one of the most thoughtful and respected captains of Indian industry.”

Friedman’s wife. Ann is a first-grade teacher and Friedman’s confidant throughout the text.

Orly and Natalie
Friedman’s daughters, whom he references throughout the text.

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David Ricardo
He is the Ricardo to whom Friedman refers in the subtitle of Chapter 5, “Is Ricardo Still Right?.” Ricardo (1772-1823) “was an English economist who developed the free-trade theory of comparative advantage, which stipulates that if each nation specializes in the production of goods in which it has a comparative cost advantage and then trades with other nations for the goods in which they specialize, there will be an overall gain in trade, and overall income levels should rise in each trading country.”

G. Wayne Clough
He is the president of Georgia Institute of Technology. When Clough became president of the college the graduation rate was only 65% and the atmosphere was dull. By altering the admission process to favor students who played a musical instrument or sports, Clough transformed the mood of the college. Students are more creative and have a higher rate of graduation.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
Marx and Engels coauthored the Communist Manifesto, which has become one of the most influential political treatises in Western political thought. The Communist Manifesto was commissioned by the Communist League and published in 1848. The text incites the masses (the proletariat) to rise up and overthrow the bourgeoisie. Friedman references the text’s insight into the globalization of the world.

Bill Cosby
Friedman invokes comedian Bill Cosby’s July 2004 speech at Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition & Citizenship Education Fund’s annual conference to discuss the importance of parenting in the flat world. Here, Cosby criticized African-American parents for not properly disciplining their children. Friedman believes all parents, regardless of race, class, ethnicity, or creed, must make sure their children are prepared for heightened competition in the flat world.

Bill and Melinda Gates
Despite the criticisms Friedman has had of Microsoft in the past, he presents Bill Gates (chairman of Microsoft) as someone who is personally committed to helping the “other 3 billion people” through his 27 billion dollar foundation, which he oversees with his wife Melinda. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is flattening the world by saving lives in impoverished third world nations.

In Part I, “How the World Became Flat,” Friedman visits India, where he realizes that the playing field has been leveled, meaning that a much larger group of people can compete for global knowledge. He pursues examples of this metaphor in other places, such as Iraq, China, Japan, and the United States. Friedman argues that there are primarily ten forces that flattened the world and describes each of the...
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