Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Worthwhile Reading, Part II

I just finished The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. I can't really say whether or not I recommend the book. I suspect much depends on what you hope to find when you read it.

If you are expecting a thorough explanation of the changes in the world economy, or a deeper understanding of economic concepts that relate to trade, productivity, growth, etc., look elsewhere. Teachers who know the basic ideas of Smith, Ricardo, and Schumpeter will likely find parts of the book familiar. Sections illustrating the "invisible hand" and "creative destruction" can be found. Likewise, if you've been following the news, particularly economic news, over the past 15 years or so, this book should not take you by surprise.

If, however, you are looking for little anecdotes or even catchy quotes to stimulate classroom discussion, Friedman's book can be very attractive. A teacher looking to keep references and anecdotes current and relevant will find this book valuable. If anything, the book could use more data to back up the various anecdotes. And because I'm someone who enjoys narrative more than statistics, that's hard for me to say.

Friedman definitely leans toward a pro-growth, pro-trade point-of-view. One should note that the book was written before the current kerfuffle about immigration. Friedman's chapter on policy recommendations may lead to discussions of immigration issues. If this creates problems in your school, you will want to consider how you will address the topic.

The book is a quick and easy read. (Given the topic, I hesitate to call it beach reading, but it moves quickly and is interesting.) The book should easily be found in most book stores.

I welcome your comments and thoughts on the book.

Posted by TSchilling at 3:57 PM Comments (0)

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