A New York Times Bestseller
A field guide to the twenty-first century, written by one of its most celebrated observers
We all sense itsomething big is going on. You feel it in your workplace. You feel it when you talk to your kids. You can’t miss it when you read the newspapers or watch the news. Our lives are being transformed in so many realms all at onceand it is dizzying.
In Thank You for Being Late, a work unlike anything he has attempted before, Thomas L. Friedman exposes the tectonic movements that are reshaping the world today and explains how to get the most out of them and cushion their worst impacts. You will never look at the world the same way again after you read this book: how you understand the news, the work you do, the education your kids need, the investments your employer has to make, and the moral and geopolitical choices our country has to navigate will all be refashioned by Friedman’s original analysis.
Friedman begins by taking us into his own way of looking at the worldhow he writes a column. After a quick tutorial, he proceeds to write what could only be called a giant column about the twenty-first century. His thesis: to understand the twenty-first century, you need to understand that the planet’s three largest forcesMoore’s law (technology), the Market (globalization), and Mother Nature (climate change and biodiversity loss)are accelerating all at once. These accelerations are transforming five key realms: the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and community.
Why is this happening? As Friedman shows, the exponential increase in computing power defined by Moore’s law has a lot to do with it. The year 2007 was a major inflection point: the release of the iPhone, together with advances in silicon chips, software, storage, sensors, and networking, created a new technology platform. Friedman calls this platform “the supernova”for it is an extraordinary release of energy that is reshaping everything from how we hail a taxi to the fate of nations to our most intimate relationships. It is creating vast new opportunities for individuals and small groups to save the worldor to destroy it.
Thank You for Being Late is a work of contemporary history that serves as a field manual for how to write and think about this era of accelerations. It’s also an argument for “being late”for pausing to appreciate this amazing historical epoch we’re passing through and to reflect on its possibilities and dangers. To amplify this point, Friedman revisits his Minnesota hometown in his moving concluding chapters; there, he explores how communities can create a “topsoil of trust” to anchor their increasingly diverse and digital populations.
With his trademark vitality, wit, and optimism, Friedman shows that we can overcome the multiple stresses of an age of accelerationsif we slow down, if we dare to be late and use the time to reimagine work, politics, and community. Thank You for Being Late is Friedman’s most ambitious bookand an essential guide to the present and the future.
Thomas L. Friedman is a three-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for his work with The New York Times and the author of several bestselling books, including The World Is Flat.
Hometown:Washington, D.C. area
Date of Birth:July 20, 1953
Place of Birth:Minneapolis, Minnesota
Education:B.A. in Mediterranean Studies, Brandeis University, 1975; M.A. in Modern Middle East Studies, Oxford University, 1978
Part I Reflecting
1 Thank You for Being Late 13
Part II Accelerating
2 What the Hell Happened in 2007? 39
3 Moore's Law 71
4 The Supernova 159
5 The Market 219
6 Mother Nature 287
Part III Innovating
7 Just Too Damned Fast 339
8 Turning AI into IA 367
9 Control vs. Kaos 438
10 Mother Nature as Political Mentor 534
11 Is God in Cyberspace? 604
12 Always Looking for Minnesota 641
13 You Can Go Home Again (and You Should!) 732
Part IV Anchoring
14 From Minnesota to the World and Back 795
While other journalists dream of being investigative reporters or news breakers, Thomas L. Friedman is a self-confessed "explanatory journalist"whose goal is to be a "translator from English to English." And he is extremely good at it…Thank You for Being Late is a master class in explaining. It canters along at a pace that is quick enough to permit learning without getting bogged down…criticizing Friedman for humanizing and boiling down big topics is like complaining that Mick Jagger used sex to sell songs: It is what he does well. There is also a value in bringing things togetherin putting foreign policy beside climate change. And don't be fooled by the catchy slogans…As usual with Friedman, it is all backed up by pages of serious reporting from around the world…you don't finish this book thinking everything is going to be O.K. for the unhappy West…But…you have a much better idea of the forces that are upending your world, how they work togetherand what people, companies and governments can do to prosper. You do have a coherent narrativean honest, cohesive explanation for why the world is the way it is, without miracle cures or scapegoats.The New York Times Book Review - John Micklethwait
Friedman (coauthor of That Used to Be Us), a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner for his work as a reporter with the New York Times, engages in an intelligent but overlong discussion of the faster paces of change in technology, globalization, and climate around the world. His core argument is that “simultaneous accelerations in the Market, Mother Nature and Moore’s law” (the principle that the power of microchips doubles every two years) constitute an “Age of Accelerations,” in which people who feel “fearful or unmoored” must “pause and reflect” rather than panic. Friedman opens with slow-paced, wordy, and at times highly technical discussions of each of his accelerations, with examples that include solar-powered waste compactors, pedometer-wearing cows, the Watson computer’s wrong answer on Jeopardy!, and geopolitics. He then offers personal and policy recommendations for coping with accelerations, such as self-motivation, a single-payer health care system, lifelong learning, and encouraging more people to follow the Golden Rule. Unfortunately, Friedman’s intriguing facts and ideas are all but buried under too many autobiographical anecdotes and lengthy recollections about the circumstances of interviews he conducted and research he completed, giving readers the recipe and history of all the ingredients along with the meal. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (Nov.)
One of The Wall Street Journal's 10 Books to Read Now
One of Kirkus Reviews's Best Nonfiction Books of the Year
One of Publishers Weekly's Most Anticipated Books of the Year
Longlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award
"Thomas L. Friedman is a self-confessed 'explanatory journalist'whose goal is to be a 'translator from English to English.' And he is extremely good at it . . . it is hard to think of any other journalist who has explained as many complicated subjects to so many people . . . Now he has written his most ambitious bookpart personal odyssey, part commonsense manifesto . . . As a guide for perplexed Westerners, this book is very hard to beat . . . Thank You for Being Late is a master class in explaining . . . As usual with Friedman, it is all backed up by pages of serious reporting from around the world . . . After your session with Dr. Friedman, you have a much better idea of the forces that are upending your world, how they work togetherand what people, companies and governments can do to prosper. You do have a coherent narrativean honest, cohesive explanation for why the world is the way it is, without miracle cures or scapegoats. And that is why everybody should hope this book does very well indeed." John Micklethwait, The New York Times Book Review
"[An] ambitious book . . . In a country torn by a divisive election, technological change and globalization, reconstructing social ties so that people feel respected and welcomed is more important than ever . . . Rather than build walls, [healthy communities] face their problems and solve them. In [Friedman's] telling, this is the way to make America great." Laura Vanderkam, The Wall Street Journal
"Engaging . . . in some senses Thank You For Being Late is an extension of [Friedman's] previous works, woven in with wonderful personal stories (including admirably honest discussions about the nature of being a columnist). What gives Friedman’s book a new twist is his belief that upheaval in 2016 is actually far more dramatic than earlier phases . . . Friedman also argues that Americans need to discover their sense of 'community,' and uses his home town of Minneapolis to demonstrate this. In two of the most engaging chapters, the author returns to the town and explains how it has created a relatively inclusive, harmonious and pragmatic style of government . . . It is a wonderful sentiment. And it injects a badly needed dose of optimism into the modern debate." Gillian Tett, Financial Times
"The globe-trotting New York Times columnist’s most famous book was about the world being flat. This one is all about the world being fast . . . His main piece of advice for individuals, corporations, and countries is clear: Take a deep breath and adapt. This world isn’t going to wait for you." Fortune
"[A] humane and empathetic book." David Henkin, The Washington Post
"[Friedman's] latest engrossingly descriptive analysis of epic trends and their consequences . . . Friedman offers tonic suggestions for fostering 'moral innovation' and a commitment to the common good in this detailed and clarion inquiry, which, like washing dirty windows, allows us to see far more clearly what we’ve been looking at all along . . . his latest must-read." Booklist (starred review)
"The three-time Pulitzer winner puts his familiar methodologyextensive travel, thorough reporting, interviews with the high-placed movers and shakers, conversations with the lowly moved and shakento especially good use here . . . He prescribes nothing less than a redesign of our workplaces, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and communities . . . Required reading for a generation that's 'going to be asked to dance in a hurricane.'" Kirkus Reviews (starred review)From the Publisher
Self-driving cars. WiFi-enhanced air flight. A landscape remade by climate change. Dizzying diversity in personal income. New York Times columnist Friedman, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and the author of best sellers like The World Is Flat, uses his Minne-sota childhood as a baseline to consider how we can better cope with a world that's accelerating in exciting and dangerous ways. His recommendations? Both nations and individuals must be innovative and adaptable while blocking the urge to just go with the flow (bedrock values matter), and we must all skip social Darwinism and find ways to support those who are victims of rapid change.
★ 2016-09-22Kirkus Reviews
The celebrated New York Times columnist diagnoses this unprecedented historical moment and suggests strategies for resilience and propulsion that will help us adapt.Are things just getting too damned fast? Friedman (Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolutionand How It Can Renew America, 2008, etc.) cites 2007 as the year we reached a technological inflection point. Combined with increasingly fast-paced globalization (financial goods and services, information, ideas, innovation) and the subsequent speedy shocks to our planets natural system (climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, geochemical flows), weve entered an age of accelerations that promises to transform almost every aspect of modern life. The three-time Pulitzer winner puts his familiar methodologyextensive travel, thorough reporting, interviews with the high-placed movers and shakers, conversations with the lowly moved and shakento especially good use here, beginning with a wonderfully Friedman-esque encounter with a parking attendant during which he explains the philosophy and technique underlying his columns and books. The author closes with a return to his Minnesota hometown to reconnect with and explore some effective habits of democratic citizenship. In between, he discusses topics as varied as how garbage cans got smart, how the exponential growth in computational power has resulted in a supernova of creative energy, how the computer Watson won Jeopardy, and how, without owning a single property, Airbnb rents out more rooms than all the major hotel chains combined. To meet these and other dizzying accelerations, Friedman advises developing a dynamic stability, and he prescribes nothing less than a redesign of our workplaces, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and communities. Drawing lessons from Mother Nature about adaptability, sustainability, and interdependence, he never underestimates the challenges ahead. However, hes optimistic about our chances as he seeks out these strategies in action, ranging from how AT&T trains its workers to how Tunisia survived the Arab Spring to how chickens can alleviate African poverty. Required reading for a generation thats going to be asked to dance in a hurricane.