Tuesdays are Ideas Day here at Taking it to the Streets
Tom Friedman’s new book (co-written with Michael Mandlebaum) is masterful. It’s called “That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World it Invented and How We can Come Back.” The title – That Used to Be Us – came from a speech Obama gave.
I’ll do a review next week but I’m so excited about this important book that I wanted to do a little sneak preview. Do you know of Tom Friedman? Maybe read some of his other books, such as “Hot, Flat and Crowded” or “The World is Flat”? He’s a brilliant New York Times columnist, journalist and author of many books (I’m just citing the other ones I’ve read). I do believe this is one of his strongest books.
If you’re an American I would think that, like me and Tom Friedman, you’ve noticed that we’ve been slipping. A lot. We’ve taken our eyes off the ball – focusing instead on the mustard stain that the lady in the bleachers has on her shirt. Really, I think THAT makes more sense than some of the marginalized “issues” that our press and the whacko extremists in BOTH parties conjure up.
Friedman and Mandlebaum give a detailed analysis of how we lost our way, what we SHOULD be focusing on, and how to get back on track. Not get back to where we were – because the world has changed so much – but get back to WHO we were.
The book is comprised of five parts:
Part I: The Diagnosis
1. If you See Something, Say Something
2. Ignoring our Problems
3. Ignoring our History
Part II: The Education Challenge
4. Up in the Air
5. Help Wanted
6. Homework x 2 = the American Dream
7. Average is Over
Part III: The War on Math and Physics
8. “This is Our Due”
9. The War on Math (and the Future)
10. The War on Physics and Other Good Things
Part IV: Political Failure
11. The Terrible Twos
12. “Whatever it is, I’m Against It”
Part V. Rediscovering America
14. They Just Didn’t Get the Word
15. Shock Therapy
16. Rediscovering America
I’ve underlined most of the book and swear I could write a post about almost every page – there are so many facts to absorb. But better than the facts are Friedman and Mandlebaum’s analysis. Their ability to get the 50,000 foot view and make sense out of what heretofore had seemed baffling is one of the things I like most about this book.
I’m savoring the last 20 pages, then I’ll let it marinate in my brain a bit more – I’ll be back to you on this. But meanwhile, if you’ve read the book I’d love to hear your take. I think it should be required reading for Americans. All Americans.