The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization

Version: Abridged
Author: Thomas L. Friedman
Narrator: Thomas L. Friedman
Genres: Business & Economics
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Published In: March 2001
# of Units: 3 CDs
Length: 3 hours
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As the Foreign Affairs columnist for The New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman has traveled to the four corners of the globe, interviewing people from all walks of contemporary life -- peasants in the Amazon rain forest, new entrepreneurs in Indonesia, Islamic students in Teheran, and the financial wizards on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley.

Now Friedman has drawn on his years on the road to produce an engrossing and original look at the new international system that, more than anything else, is shaping world affairs today: globalization.

His argument can be summarized quite simply. Globalization is not just a phenomenon and not just a passing trend. It is the international system that replaced the Cold War system. Globalization is the integration of capital, technology and information across national borders, in a way that is creating a single global market and to some degree, a global village. You cannot understand the morning news or know where to invest you money or think about where the world is going unless you understand this new system, which is influencing the domestic policies and international relations of virtually every country in the world today. And once you do understand the world as Friedman explains it, you'll never look at it quite the same way again.

Using original terms and concepts -- from "The Electronic Herd" to "DOScapital 6.0" -- Friedman shows us how to see this new system. With vivid stories, he dramatizes the conflict of "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" -- the tension between the globalization system and ancient forms of culture, geography, tradition and community -- and spells out what we all need to do to keep this system in balance.

Finding the proper balance between the Lexus and the olive tree is the great drama of the globilization era, and the ultimate theme of Friedman's challenging, provocative book -- essential listening for all who care about how the world really works.

Reviews (15)

A good listen

Written by Anonymous on February 23rd, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

A good listen but as other reviewers mentioned it should be read/listened to before the World is Flat. Much shorter then I had hoped but I enjoyed Friedman's writing style and perspective.

Skip it

Written by ML from Carrollton, TX on December 23rd, 2007

  • Book Rating: 2/5

This predecessor to "The World is Flat" is dated and shows there was a clear refinement in Friedman's writing style and content between these books. Skip this and go straight to "The World is Flat."


Written by Brad King on July 30th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 2/5

The one thing that really bothered me was towards the end he made a reference to the '94 congressional class and then basically ripped on anyone who talks bad about paying taxes. Seems to me the '94 class was all about streamlining the gov't and removing waste where ever possible. He says we have to destroy the old and usher in the new in almost all aspects of society to gain efficiencies and keep moving forward with globalization, but he doesn't apply the same logic to government. Not everyone who rips on gov't spending wants to stop paying taxes and funding the basic programs (welfare, cops, etc.) that we're all used to. People are merely (and '94 class fits this bill) attacking the copious amounts of waste the gov't has to make current programs feasible long into the future. I mean, isn't a nation's fiscal stability one of the most important things for globalization? He talks about the surplus, but Clinton didn't run a true surplus, he took from SS trust funds.

The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization

Written by Tekinel on October 15th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I am big fan of Thomas L. Friedman. If I have not read the World is Flat before this book - it would be much better.

The lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization

Written by Ron Saxton on September 29th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Nice overview of what is happening to the ecomonic world and the changes brought about by the information age.

Frontrunner work to World is Flat

Written by William Koch on September 9th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 2/5

I listened to the World is Flat first, and clearly this book was a premature frontrunner to it. Much of the material is dated and is covered in better depth and quality in The World is Flat.

Must Read (Sort Of)

Written by Chuck LeFebvre from Champaign, IL on August 30th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 2/5

This book, and its author, are part of the modern American political dialog, so if you have an interest in politics, economics, and world affairs, you simply have to read it to be part of the pack. I don't understand why an important book like this is not presented in an unabridged format, but you take what you can get. The good news is that, since you have to read it anyway, it is entertaining and interesting. This author does a great job animating the text with his voice, and the text itself is lively and engaging. The bad news is that much of the "news" in this book is no longer new. Still current, but you may have heard much of it before (see above re: this book and its author being part of our modern dialog). So you probably won't be learning a whole lot while you listen. But you will be learning some things, and you will be entertained. So why only two stars? Well, Friedman is arrogant and fails to inform the reader of opposing views. And I hate abridgements.

Analogies, Metaphors and Similes OH MY!!!

Written by Super Commuter from Austintown, OH on May 22nd, 2005

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I've never heard economics presented in such a clever way before. The speaking was theatrical and dramatic at times. It totally broke the stereotype I had of the geeky stiff-collared monotone mathematician. For example he used pretend conversations between leaders of different countries to illustrate ideological differences. His ideas were intelligent and interesting. I loved the analogies, metaphors and similes... but at times it got so deep into them that he was making analogies of analogies and the actual message was so far removed I'm not sure if I missed some of the points. It may require a second listen to get it all.

Can't Be Stopped, Can't Be Contained, Best Get Behind It

Written by forager from Walla Walla, WA on April 23rd, 2005

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This book makes it clear that even if the US Govnt. and all it's citizens decided to erect walls 100 ft high and drop out of the world that Globalization will continue unabated... without the US. We're undergoing a Revolution, like the introduction of the Printing Press (circa 1500), that makes Transportation, Information, Manufacturing, and Investment global events... Detroit's competition isn't Germany, it's India, China, even Nigeria. Can't be stopped... our best hope is to direct it's growth.

Why We Don't Save Newspapers

Written by Gem SPECTOR on March 31st, 2005

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Prescient when published, but the news of globalization is now no more news than the internet. When it was written, approximately six years ago, it was insightful, cutting-edge even. It explained, among other things, how big a hole Bush would be digging if we invaded Iraq. Too bad it wasn't part of the government's intelligence-gathering. Loved it when I first read it, but now realize how quickly it has become old news. Great writing, old topic.

Author Details

Author Details

Friedman, Thomas L.

Thomas L. Friedman, a world-renowned author and journalist, joined The New York Times in 1981 as a financial reporter specializing in OPEC- and oil-related news and later served as the chief diplomatic, chief White House, and international economics correspondents. A three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, he has traveled hundreds of thousands of miles reporting the Middle East conflict, the end of the cold war, U.S. domestic politics and foreign policy, international economics, and the worldwide impact of the terrorist threat. His foreign affairs column, which appears twice a week in the Times, is syndicated to one hundred other newspapers worldwide.

Friedman is the author of From Beirut to Jerusalem (FSG, 1989), which won both the National Book Award and the Overseas Press Club Award in 1989 and was on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly twelve months. From Beirut to Jerusalem has been published in more than twenty-seven languages, including Chinese and Japanese, and is now used as a basic textbook on the Middle East in many high schools and universities. Friedman also wrote The Lexus and the Olive Tree (FSG, 1999), one of the best selling business books in 1999, and the winner of the 2000 Overseas Press Club Award for best nonfiction book on foreign policy. It is now available in twenty languages. His last book, Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11, issued by FSG in 2002, consists of columns Friedman published about September 11 as well as a diary of his private experiences and reflections during his reporting on the post-September world as he traveled from Afghanistan to Israel to Europe to Indonesia to Saudi Arabia. In 2005, The World Is Flat was given the first Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award, and Friedman was named one of America's Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report.

Friedman graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University with a degree in Mediterranean studies and received a master's degree in modern Middle East studies from Oxford. He has served as a visiting professor at Harvard University and has been awarded honorary degrees from several U.S. universities. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his wife, Ann, and their two daughters.