Book Reviews

Book Review: That Used to be Us.


Authors T. L. Friedman, and influential columnist, and M. Mandelbaum, professor at John Hopkins University have written a book that by and large correctly identifies America’s current problems and suggests solutions.

Both authors have travelled extensively, and report their experiences in China and India, two rapidly developing economies.

China, it is said, will surpass the American economy in a few years, but those who advance such theories conveniently forget to factor in the population of China and that of the U.S.A. While the Chinese economy overall may surpass that of the U.S.A the per capita consumption will be much less than that of America.

This heartfelt book identifies globalization, information technology, America’s chronic deficits, and patterns of excessive energy consumption. But the authors don’t stop there; they also suggest solutions to solve these problems.

In fact, they seem to believe that these are just temporary and can be overcome by investing in education, the clean energy industry, infrastructure improvements and eradicating the rampant intellectual property theft perpetrated by several upcoming economies.

China’s currency manipulation, protectionism, and disregard for patent laws also figure largely in this opus.

One thing both authors fail to mention is the importance of parents imposing discipline on their offspring’s for education, and meaningful help during their schooling.

Studded with priceless anecdotes, this book points out how Chinese leaders succeeded in creating employment for millions of poor and unskilled workers. They should have pointed out that thousands of American companies, including Wal Mart and General Motors have created millions of jobs in China. This is also true for India.

Even some states within the union maintain call centres in India, and according to some in Saudi Arabia.

Both authors believe strongly in a creative economy, innovation, talent, and tolerance of people with better education and entrepreneurial acumen.

They state that many foreign students who come to the U.S.A to earn their master’s degrees or Ph. D’s remain in the country investing, and creating high-paying jobs. This represents a brain drain on the country of their origin but benefits the U.S.A.

The American economy is very complex, and vibrant, but politically it is very difficult to govern with only two parties, each of which firmly believes its policies to be correct. They constantly fight, rather than helping the government in a bi-partisan governing mode.

T. Friedman and M. Mandelbaum believe that the recovery of American greatness is within reach and offer plausible solutions.

This an enlightening book ad should be essential reading for all everywhere.

Here is a audio clip from the audiobook for THAT USED TO BE US

Highly recommended.

Comments are closed.