New York Press: Except for one thing. The significance of Columbus's discovery was that on a round earth, humanity is more interconnected than on a flat one. On a round earth, the two most distant points are closer together than they are on a flat earth. But Friedman is going to spend the next 470 pages turning the "flat world" into a metaphor for global interconnectedness. Furthermore, he is specifically going to use the word round to describe the old, geographically isolated, unconnected world.
"Let me... share with you some of the encounters that led me to conclude that the world is no longer round," he says. He will literally travel backward in time, against the current of human knowledge.
To recap: Friedman, imagining himself Columbus, journeys toward India. Columbus, he notes, traveled in three ships; Friedman "had Lufthansa business class." When he reaches India—Bangalore to be specific—he immediately plays golf. His caddy, he notes with interest, wears a cap with the 3M logo. Surrounding the golf course are billboards for Texas Instruments and Pizza Hut. The Pizza Hut billboard reads: "Gigabites of Taste." Because he sees a Pizza Hut ad on the way to a golf course, something that could never happen in America, Friedman concludes: "No, this definitely wasn't Kansas."
After golf, he meets Nilekani, who casually mentions that the playing field is level. A nothing phrase, but Friedman has traveled all the way around the world to hear it. Man travels to India, plays golf, sees Pizza Hut billboard, listens to Indian CEO mutter small talk, writes 470-page book reversing the course of 2000 years of human thought. That he misattributes his thesis to Nilekani is perfect: Friedman is a person who not only speaks in malapropisms, he also hears malapropisms. Told level; heard flat. This is the intellectual version of Far Out Space Nuts, when NASA repairman Bob Denver sets a whole sitcom in motion by pressing "launch" instead of "lunch" in a space capsule. And once he hits that button, the rocket takes off.
I have never greatly believed the free trade boosterism, myself. It's not clear to me that pitting first world workers against third world ones is a great idea in the long run for either. In the short run, you might produce some small enrichment to certain almost-middle-classes in India, etc. But the processes that are being used to do this greatly increase the bargaining power of the already powerful.
Of course, economists will tell you that the relative impoverishment of rich-country workers is to be remedied by social supports. When such are forthcoming, we'll talk. But the nature of the process itself as it has unfolded in the US and Canada suggests that the compensation will never be forth coming, because it requires the already-rich to give up some of their bargaining power.